Its been a wonderful match. I know many will cringe at my using the word “wonderful” and I might be flamed for it. But well, I refuse to look at the end result, and what happened after that, as that brings up a churning feeling in my stomach, and my heart flinches. Its like something great could have happened but got thwarted by mysterious forces of nature that just could not digest the fact that something out of the ordinary was happening and ensured under any cost that life went back to normal. However, the effect of enforcing the mundane is never good and the result is almost always turmoil.
I would remember this match for many things:
An out of the world bowling performance by an inexperienced Indian attack and centuries that would have pleased the lords from Sachin and Laxman are among them. Couldn’t see much of Sachin’s century, but Laxman’s century was almost out of a movie on cricket where the lead just keeps smashing the bowlers around. While Laxman’s was mostly a masterly and elegant battle between bat and ball, at the other side was a battle being waged between a man and the ghosts in his mind. When your game is on and your mind is also on it, the end result is usually a good knock, a 50 or a century. There are times where your game is on, but your mind is not which is when you get starts and get out in the 30s or 40s.
Rahul Dravid’s was the special case where the mind is on, but the game is not. The batsman in him was struggling. The timing was never there, the feet were stranded, the bat felt like a stump and everything he touched picked fielders or the edge. But the player in him was strong. He had his mind right in the game. What followed was an absorbing battle, not between bat and ball, but between a player and all the ghosts in his mind and technique which had come to haunt him and stayed over the years. Slowly, and with loads of luck, the player in him survived torrid spells of dangerous existence. And then the player held the hands of the batsman and guided him through those spells, almost magically. The feet started moving, the bat started widening and so did the gaps in the field. And then, just when you thought you were looking at something great, he fell. It was almost fitting that he got out after a 50 and not a century. Getting a century would have been divine and heavenly, something reserved for only a select class of players like Sir Don Bradman, Sir Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. Some players are closer to your heart simply because they have their fallacies and are, well, human. They don’t make your heart race faster. They make you say a silent prayer every time they are on the verge of bridging the gap between the human and the divine. End of the day, cricket, like all sports, is a celebration of the human spirit and you need the gods to set the standards and the humans to attempt to achieve it. For every, Sampras or a Federer, there would be an Agassi and for every Bradman, Lara or Sachin there would be a Steve Waugh, a Dravid or a Ganguly.