Thursday, 31 March 2011

We wont let sachin to go without the WC!!!

Shoaib Akhtar announced his departure, and didn’t find a farewell game to bow out with. Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith and Daniel Vettori gave up some part of their captaincy at least. Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas eye an encore of their 1996 triumph as their last hurrah. In so many ways this World Cup not only marks the end of great careers, but also the end of our romance with the game.
Some of those names evoke sheer greatness. No other word can replace it. Some are World Cup champions, others on the throes of being called mavericks, another who has single-handedly carried the hopes of a nation that is almost destined to never win a big trophy. Yet, Daniel Vettori too has an ICC Champions Trophy to show for. Kevin Pietersen is too new to even think of when it comes to reminiscences of an innocent past, where over hours of summer vacation mornings were spent trying to emulate bowling actions and cricketing shots.
When India play Sri Lanka in the final on Saturday, it may well not be the end of Sachin Tendulkar either, the one with whom the people of my generation have grown up with. Going by the way he is playing, it may be a long time coming. And yet, I wanted to pen a tribute. Because the one trophy that every other of that last remaining childhood heroes boasts of, has eluded Tendulkar. And how we pray he has it against his name when he has hung up his pads.
The rise of Indian cricket over the past decade has meant it was more or less certain for us to be in this position. But not back in 2003. Only three years since the horrors of match-fixing had shattered our most loved sport, a young Indian team rose up to challenge, and defeated, everyone along the way to make the final. We were hammered in Johannesburg. And yet, the team received a heroes’ reception when they touched down. We knew we had achieved more than we should have.
But this time it feels different. Some might beg for this trophy from Sri Lanka even, because Muralitharan and Vaas have won World Cups, but not their fierce adversary that is Tendulkar. But we don’t need to. Tendulkar’s teammates have firmly displayed it on the field. They will not let him go without a World Cup medal.
Test cricket is not mentioned here because it’s not at the forefront for now. The Indian Test team has anyway achieved far more than the one-day variety. It’s future is safe in the hands of the Dravids and Laxmans, along with Sachin. But right from the World Cup of 1992, Tendulkar has enchanted us into believing more than we should have back then.
No wonder people here call him God. He has forced them to believe that way. And yet he is all too human. All too human to have witnessed a semifinal exit in Kolkata, humiliation in Durban and Barbados, left dumbstruck in Chennai, silence in Kolkata (1999), humiliation in Australia. Those were the days when people shut their TV sets when he was dismissed. But the new decade changed it all.
From being a one-man show, we became the team we should have been. A player like Tendulkar deserved to be in a team like Australia, a team that won everything. And yet he finds himself at the twilight of his career without that trophy in a glittering cabinet.
But does that alone mean India will win the final come Saturday? For so much more. Even though there is no hint that Tendulkar will quit ODI cricket following the game, it sure will be the perfect sendoff. Elusive World Cup victory, on his home ground, against one of his greatest contemporaries. And for once records will not matter to us. Whether a century of centuries comes or not, Tendulkar will not care. I was seven during the 1992 World Cup. So were many of us. We have waited too long for this.

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