12th March, 2006: A Sunday which will live in glory for all time to come for anyone who loves to see Australia beaten in a cricket match. The common room of our hostel had seen many a raucous celebration but none like that day even though India wasn't even one of the combatants.
It was the fifth and final one-dayer, the series decider for the Aussies touring South Africa. The day being a Sunday, the only thing that could be on the TV when a cricket match was on was a cricket match so a few sleepy heads half filled the common room and stared in disbelief as Ricky Ponting took the Proteas to task, the Aussies posting an unprecedented, mammoth, gargantuan, stupendous 434 runs as a target. The bitter memories of the 2004 World Cup final slaughter of India at the hands of the same batsman were awakened and the air was thick with the most vehement curses. How could they do this everytime, the darned Kangaroos, how could they bring their game up to such a level when it came to the big day? Hurt and anger and disappointment hung thick as people resorted to tearing newspapers and slamming the striker on the carrom board to divert their thoughts away from what looked assured to be another Aussie victory.
Who could've thought that a man called Herschelle Gibbs had decided otherwise? He smashed, pulled and cut his way in a dream innings as he came within touching distance of the impossible. Then he fell, and the mournful silence of the common room told the story of whose side we were rooting for. A parade of South African batsmen followed in quick succession, and the Aussies were back from the brink with their confident smirks. But Mark Boucher pulled the Proteas home in the most of nail biting of finishes with one ball to go and one wicket to spare. South Africa: 438/9 in 49.5 overs in what was positively the greatest run chase of all time. What a game!
The common room erupted and we were literally dancing in the aisles. High fives, chest bumps, pumping fists, mindless roars of joy et al were on display as the bitterest cricketing rivals of India were subjected to this incredible defeat. On that night, South Africa was playing for India, wreaking brutal vengeance on the invincible Aussies. The happiness that night defied belief as every cricket lover in our hostel fell asleep with a satisfied smile. It was Monday next day but we couldn't care less. Australia had been beaten and how! This was a story to tell our grandchildren. Even without being at the Wanderers, Jo'burg that night, being in far off Kurukshetra, it was well and truly a "I was there" moment.