The ground was full of ardent spectators. The audience was very energetic and extremely cheerful. Santosh found it very difficult to concentrate. This was the most important game of his life. He had to perform well in this game to get selected in the national championship.
Santosh always played cricket very well since childhood. His parents encouraged him in all possible ways. He excelled in all competitions and became a champion in all the matches he played.
After nearly five years of playing in various tournaments, he was finally representing his state in this match. This match was also important for more reasons.
Santosh met Keerthana three years ago after a cricket match when she told him that she was his fan. She stalked him for some time on social media. Finally, they became good friends. The friendship slowly transformed into love. She would accompany him for every match and that added to his confidence in all the matches and he performed better. Keerthana and Santosh’s father were always there for all his matches. He considered their presence as a morale booster during the match. While Keerthana was his lucky charm, his father was his strength and support whenever he was very tensed during the match.
During one of the matches, Santosh’s father also observed that he was constantly looking at one of the girls and trying to impress her. His father did not discourage him or reprimand him. They never talked about it either.
Santosh also met her parents and they were happy to have known him. Even though they got a hint that this relationship might be more than friendship they did not try to discuss anything with either of them.
Everything was fine until the last match. Keerthana did not turn up for the match. This was a week before this match. Santosh was so discouraged and he did not perform as excellently as he would otherwise perform. Neither his coach nor his team was happy with the way in which he played that match.
The last week has been very tiring for him. He tried calling Keerthana but could not reach her or talk to her. After a couple of days of silence, he went to her house. Her parents told him that she was out of town on a modeling assignment and would not return until two weeks later. However, it appeared to him that they were hiding something. He was very worried about her whereabouts. She has never been out of touch with him in the past few years.
Finally, two days before this match, he got a call from an unknown number. The stranger on the phone informed him that he kidnapped Keerthana. He demanded that Santosh should not perform well in this match and the team should lose.
Santosh was under tremendous pressure for one full day. He did not know what to do about the threatening call. He tried to reach Keerthana’s parents and they confirmed the fact that she was indeed kidnapped. However, they did not approach the authorities yet as they were worried about her safety.
Unable to focus on the practice for the big match ahead, he shared his problem with his father.
“Let me handle this,” said his father. He left the house two days before the tournament and did not return till the match started.
Santosh is now worried about his father, his love, and the match. He did not know how to proceed further.
Just a few hours before the cricket match, he came to know that a couple of other team mates were also threatened to lose this match. He finally understood that this was the doing of the competition. He wanted to communicate this to his father. But, he could not reach his father or Keerthana.
Just a couple of hours before the match, he explained everything to his mother.
“I cannot play this match. I have to go find both of them, ” told Santosh to his mother.
“You cannot do that at this moment. Trust your father. He will come back safe and also get Keerthana along with him,” said his mother.
She added, “Focus on the match. I cannot ask you to forget everything about everyone else. Focus on your first love. Cricket has always been your first love. You always had this dream to play on behalf of the country. This match is your ticket to your dream. If you perform well in this match, you will definitely be selected for the national championship matches. And, remember the first time you played in a big ground against a competitor school team. You were amused by the arena, the playground, the audience, and the entire ambience. You said that it was your dream. Now, go live your dream. Love the ground. Love the game. Play it with heart. You will definitely win. If you do what you need to do, everything else will fall in its rightful place.”
Santosh recollected these words and played hard in the match. He performed better than the last match.
However, as time passed, the other team mates did not perform well because of pressure or lack of confidence. It was up to Santosh to live up to the team and make the team win.
He played intelligently and hard and made his team win the match. He was worried about his father and Keerthana after the match.
He kept blaming himself.
If I lose my father or Keerthana, I can never play cricket again. I will always be guilty for the rest of my life.
Despite the turn of events, his mother was confident. She finally decided to report the entire episode to cops.
After a twenty four investigation and search, they found out the real culprits who kidnapped Keerthana. They also kidnapped Santosh’s father when he tried to find her. When the cops found them, Santosh’s father was badly bruised and was in an unconscious state.
It was learnt that the people who kidnapped Keerthana had nothing do with the competition. They were from the match fixing scandal. They wanted Santosh to lose so that they could make loads and loads of money as they placed their bets on the competition team. So, these people tried everything to make Santosh’s team lose the match. However, his love for the game made him and his team win the match.
It took two days for Keerthana and Santosh’s father to recuperate. However, they were proud of Santosh. Santosh thanked his mother for giving him the right advice at the right time.