© IANS
After leveling the series against Pakistan, New Zealand have got the psychological advantage © IANS

Amid the gloom and despair the cricket fraternity was surrounded with in the last few days, Brendon McCullum-led New Zealand did something in the third Test against Pakistan, which a cricket fan should never forget, opines Devarchit Varma.

When was the last time the cricket family faced an adverse situation which was so profoundly hurting? There have been ups and downs for the game that we love the most, but never in the last few decades has something of such emotional stress happened.

Phillip Hughes’ untimely demise deeply affected every cricketer as well as the fans and united people in every nook and corner in this world to pay tribute to the fallen cricketer. He was getting in prime form, and might as well have cemented a place in the national side.

The incident has shocked every person related to cricket, but it certainly would have been extremely tough for his teammates and contemporaries to accept the reality. It might have been even tougher for those who were already in on-field action, such as the Pakistan and New Zealand cricketers. It was a welcome gesture by both the teams to have abandoned the second day’s play of the final Test. New Zealand went up a few notch higher which not only won hearts across the globe, but something that would last in memories for ever.

New Zealand and Pakistan teams joined the #PutYourBatsOut campaign and observed a minute’s silence in the memory of Hughes. As the day progressed, none of the sides celebrated the feats that came their way. New Zealand did not celebrate as they lashed back, though it was a spectacular one. To get rid of as many as six Pakistani batsmen for just 66 runs on a flat track would have been an arduous task for any other side, but New Zealand, despite carrying it out in a compelling manner, did not for once celebrate their achievements.

Instead, they walked out with the initials ‘PH’ written right below the black ferns logo on their jerseys — a gesture that no cricket fan can ever forget — and played a hard day of cricket in a memorable manner, cutting out everything that could distract them and just focussed on the job, on cricket. How ironic is this. As the world mourned, the Kiwis plotted their comeback and Brendon McCullum’s whirlwind knock proved valuable for more than one reason.

It was as if the Kiwi captain wanted to lead the cricket fraternity out of the pain through that knock. He mercilessly butchered the Pakistani bowlers, who had been wreaking havoc on the opposition batsmen. McCullum emerged as a true leader: he and his side produced a performance of such fortitude that the world cannot forget easily. Like others, it was not easy for him either. After the win, he confessed, “It felt incredibly hard to focus on the game and still hard to talk about the game.”

In just one Test, McCullum displayed his leadership qualities: he was not merely a team leader, but also represented the cricket fraternity. His effort will be overshadowed with all that has transpired, but the way in which the he and his team conducted themselves has certainly won the hearts — something which will go down in cricket history as one of the greatest gestures shown by a cricket team.

McCullum and New Zealand’s monk-like concentration, their ability to excel in tough conditions and situations amidst the thoughts of abandoning the entire game after Hughes’ death have been phenomenal. Had the game ended in a tame draw, it would probably not have affected cricket fraternity much. But New Zealand’s victory, their efforts, the character that they showed in adversities, won hearts.

Bravo, New Zealand! Any amount of praise bestowed upon them is less.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)