Friday, November 15, 2013

Sachin: The Immortal of India

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up and say to the entire world, This was a man”

– Shakespeare

Sachin’s career can be divided into two eras: pre ‘99 and post ‘99. During most of the ‘90s, he was a one man army when batting and a man with golden arms when bowling. Post 99’ era, the likes of Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman shared the onus of the Indian batting line up.

[The initial days of Sachin post ’99 era were marked with tennis elbow injury. He subsided his usual aggression and stopped coming down to the pitch to launch projectiles of sixes destined for apogee. He began to rely more on placements and boundaries. He also experimented with his batting position by coming down the order. The losing streak of the team India aggravated the situation. These events resulted in some aficionados turning fans and some fans turning critics. I can put a wager that there was not a single critic of Sachin in pre ’99 era. ]

As they say, childhood memories are most savoring therefore following are the two special memories of pre ’99 era:-

1. An indelible memory of Sachin would be the semi-final innings of 141 against Australia at Sharjah in 1998. On that day, he was like a kamikaze waiting to explode. The two sixes off Michael Kasprowicz at deep mid wicket boundary and that coupled with euphonic commentary of Tony Grieg set the tone for an amazing match. Dancing down to the pitch to hit Warne’s googly over the top with a puckish straight bat was a feast for the eyes. For the first time, Aussies saw the fearlessness hidden under that 5 ft 5” minuscule body.

2. Another indelible memory of Sachin would be the hysteria that enveloped me after the defeat in the 1996 World Cup semi-finals against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens. I remember when my Dad, an ardent cricket follower, optimistically stopped me from bursting strings of Lady bomb after India won the Quarter Finals against Pakistan. I vividly remember his words-“Don’t for Semi Finals against Sri Lanka”. [On that day] Sachin’s batting was a treat to watch when he hit every bowler down to the ground. He was batting in full zeal when obliviously he got stumped on 63 while sweeping Murlidharan. After his dismissal, the ball started taking 180 degree turn and the whole team fell like a pack of cards. Moment of grief struck my sinking heart, aggravated by Kamli’s uncontrollable pooling from the tear glands. I swear, I would have painted the town red with my Lady bombs had India won.