“Be it our very own Raj breaking down barriers to end with Simran or be it a brazen Rhett wooing Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, the fictional love stories have stood the test of time. In a strange way, Rohit Sharma’s relation with Eden Gardens or Holder’s queer bond with Kensington Oval too will be looked at with amazement”
While cinema boasts of the stories of Jack Lawson and Rose Bukater in Titanic, literature remains effused with the tales of Elizabeth and Darcy. Closer home, the Taj Mahal stands as an iconic symbol of Shah Jahan’s passion for his ever beautiful bride Noor Jahan and Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s story has stood the test of time.
And then stands cricket. A sport devoid of such emotions, yet ironically capable of arousing a million emotions. A game where just a text-book perfect square drive is enough to create ripples, similar to the one that was experienced when Noah and Allie stole a glance at each other in The Notebook.
There is a definite spark when the effervescent Virat Kohli helps India win an improbable game. A deeper story existed when Brian Lara milked the bowling at Antigua and an unexplained comfort level arises in VVS Laxamn’s fancy for the Australian bowlers.
And well, when Sachin Tendulkar faced the greatest bowler of them all, Shane Warne, it was pure bliss. A ‘love story’ for the ages. A cricketing love story.
The third game of the Test series between West Indies and Sri Lanka at Kensington Oval, Barbados. Caught in the allegations of ball tampering, the Sri Lankans were without their skipper Dinesh Chandimal, desperately seeking a revival, both in the series and in their Test cricket fortunes that had plummeted to new lows after the legends Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralidharan had retired. Test cricket too, in all sincerity, was suffering a burnout, especially with the advent of T20s and with the ODI series against England and Australia ending in a whitewash, the competitive showing in cricket had been lying low.
With the batsmen gaining an undue advantage in the sport in the recent past, the bowlers were fighting for survival and it needed a game of fire, power and pace to get them back on track.
Jason Holder steals the show
On a green-top, the home team opted to bat first, posting only 204 runs on the board, courtesy a four-wicket burst by Lahiru Kumara. And then, it was time for Jason Holder to cast his magic over the overcast-Barbados once again. A stadium, where he has transcended the ordinary to script a queer relationship. A strange bond that dates back to 2014, and one that has survived since.
The beginning of Holder’s story with Bridgetown
It all dates back to the day when Holder made his Test debut against New Zealand at the venue way back in June 2014. Determined and eager to prove that his selection was not based on reputation but on form, he gritted his way to 52 off 79 in the second innings, after his team had collapsed to 81 for 4, chasing 308 runs for a win. He displayed calmness even as the trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Mark Craig were wreaking havoc. With 38 runs in the first innings as well, along with two wickets in the game, Holder announced his entry, and there has been no looking back for Holder at Barbados. His purple patch has transcended into a dark hue that shows no signs of fading.
In the next game that he played at the venue against England a year later, he did fail with the bat but played a huge role in registering a memorable win. After England had gained a 68 run lead in the first innings, it was Holder’s spell of 9-3-15-3 that pushed them to 123 all out, thereby giving the home side a mere target of 194 to chase in the fourth.
Two years later, the player once again played a huge hand in West Indies’ win over Pakistan by scoring 58 runs in the first innings, helping his team cross the 300-run mark. Eventually, Pakistan needed 188 runs for a victory, but Holder, who had scalped three wickets in the first innings, returned to pick up three more to ensure that his team safely went over the line.
A story that looks like an endless affair
On a green wicket in the series-decider in the ongoing clash with Sri Lanka, Holder kept his nerve to score 74 in the first innings, after his top order had collapsed to 24 for 4 in just 14 overs. Along with Shane Dowrich, he put on 115 runs to guide his team to a score of 204, which is proving to be a match-winning total. With the ball, he grabbed 4/19 in the first innings to dismiss the Lankans for 154, helping his team gain an important 50-run lead. In reply, Windies made 93, leaving Sri Lanka with a target of 144 to draw level in the series. By taking 4 of the 5 wickets that have fallen thus far in their second innings, Holder has already taken the second best figures by a Caribbean captain. His 8/40 is also the second-best by any captain against Sri Lanka.
With 21 wickets in only 4 games at the venue thus far, Holder’s average of 9.71 with the ball is the best by any West Indies bowler at any venue. He has picked up five three-wicket hauls in Barbados, which is more than what he has taken in all the other venues that he has played in.
Away from Bridgetown, Holder averages 46.76 with the cherry, having taken 43 wickets in 28 matches to reaffirm the fact that Barbados brings out the best in him.
Be it our very own Raj breaking down barriers to end with Simran or be it a brazen Rhett wooing Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, the fictional love stories have stood the test of time. In a strange way, Rohit Sharma’s relation with Eden Gardens or Holder’s queer bond with Kensington Oval too will be looked at with amazement.
Whoever said that sports lacked any emotions?