There are people who believe in the ideology of "Work hard and party harder" and then there are few others who believe in "Work hard and keep working hard". Not everyone is gifted with class, resoluteness and stroke making ability, and when one is gifted with all these qualities, he better make it count, for talent is nothing without performances. There are a few people who love to be in the news, be a strong public figure, engage in brand building and enjoy the whole aura of being a famous person. And on the other hand, you have people who believe in serenity and a peaceful surrounding. They love to be in the shadow of limelight. Once on a podium, there were 20 side dancers, dancing along with the main performer who happens to be a huge star. On careful observation, I found that one guy was dancing even better than the main performer. The finesse in his steps seemed flawless. It was as if he was dancing his heart out with unencumbered pleasure. After the show, I went to him and spoke about his dancing to which he humbly responded "I was dancing well because I knew no one was observing me. The moment I realize that I have an audience, the nerve starts wrangling. I love to be away from the spot light and enjoy my moves you see". I congratulated him and on my way back, I realized that sometimes it is better not to be in the limelight. It removes that extra burden of failure that keeps haunting you. In the game of football, the goal scorer always grab the headlines, gets the applause, but the role of a guy who assisted him in scoring the goal, or the defender who defended beautifully to save some chances is equally important. The person that I am talking about, has been a match winner for our country in the last 8 years with commendable persistence. He has been a remarkable finisher for us in the limited overs game in recent past. All this he has done, living in the shadow of limelight. He is none other than Suresh Raina.
A gleaming smile that rests on an unperturbed face tells you how exactly this guy approaches his game. Unfazed by the precarious situation, he has the ability to move up the scoring rate as and when he wants. When the required run rate rises above 8 and starts to get out of reach, he is the sort of player you would bank upon to get a boundary every over. He is a gifted player with immense stroke making ability. He seems to have the answer to every field placement. The dexterity with which he maneuvers the ball around coupled with the amazing foot work to unsettle the spinners is simply remarkable. He mixes the dose of caution and aggression almost perfectly to make the best recipe in the book. Not only does he have a range of authentic, text book like strokes, but also some of his own, stunning, unorthodox shots which consists of using weird angles to split the gaps and the use of the bottom hand to get underneath the ball and whack it in one corner of the field. Like every other cricketer, he too has had his share of rough patch. His consistent failures against the short ball and the uneasiness with which he approached it made him a walking wicket outside the subcontinent. At times, he would stand back in his crease anticipating a short ball, and would eventually get out to a full ball due to lack of feet movement. Sometimes, he would play the ball up even though he is in an uncomfortable position and hole out a dolly. These failures even got him dropped from the side to work on his game. His shortcomings against the short ball even after a few years of practice made him lose his Test cap and was perhaps written off as a Test Cricket prospect. But the hunger for runs, his shot making ability in the middle overs always kept him in the limited overs side. His career statistics comprises of an average close to 36 at a strike rate of 92 which is outstanding. However, in my opinion we may easily add 5 runs to his average for the runs he saves with his extraordinary fielding skills. His acrobatic movements and his bucket like hands are the backbone of Indian fielding. He is one of those rare fielders who can field in any position with ease, be it the constantly diving fielder at Point or the man with a quickfire rocket arm at Long on during slog overs, or the agile and mobile fielder in the slips during powerplays. He has often been criticized for getting out after getting starts and this perhaps has been the highlight of his career. Either he gets a 40 not out in the end to finish a game for the country or if sent up the order, he gets a flashy score of 30s and 40s before falling cheaply. Where players take some time to settle before playing their natural game, Raina on the contrary starts his game in the third gear which only accelerates as the innings moves on. Very rarely has he been the standout performer in a game, grabbing all the eyeballs, but he has been the sort of player who has built important partnerships at crucial times to save the team. Apart from being a wonderful cricketer, a unique quality that he possesses is the amazing spirit and an unfathomable calm that he plays his game with. He is the first one to come to the bowler and celebrate when he picks up a wicket, and he is very calm and composed when he comes out to bat. I for one have not seen him stare or mumble at the umpire after facing a decision that he has a strong disagreement with, nor is he one of those players who try and get under other players skin, sledge him or invite a sledge. He has been an uncontroversial Cricketer throughout his life and has kept himself away from the media frenzy. He is one of those silent assassins who may not look dangerous at first, but will slowly kill you with a venomous smile. He is just 27 now even with over 8 years of experience and has a plenty of time ahead of him. He is like the common salt in an Indian dish whose presence may not be physically felt when you look at the dish, but its absence will certainly render the food tasteless.
The change in the fortune of Indian Cricket in the recent past can be equated with the weather in Mumbai during monsoon. You leave home thinking of a sunny day with sun beating down and then all of a sudden, the clouds gather and its starts to drizzle. Before you could curse yourself for not bringing the umbrella, the drizzle has transformed into a heavy downpour. In a similar way, we were leading the 5 match Test series 1-0 at the end of the 2nd Test, but then everything went wrong and we lost the series 1-3. What went wrong in a matter of few days? How did the clouds gather and covered the sun? Was it constructive failure to build an innings, or was it due to poor effort from the bowlers? We can go on writing pages on these topics but nothing will ever change until the intent to learn and improve takes over the callous attitude of Indian players. After leading 1-0, the age old problem of not starting an overseas tour on a positive note was solved, but the problem of not finishing the tour well was discovered.
One of the prominent reasons for the loss was the under achievement of India's top order. When your ace batsman does not trouble the scorers, you know you are in big trouble. Virat Kohli, known to be the next great in the making had a horrid time with the bat. He amassed a paltry 134 runs in 10 innings which is very unlike him. Virat, who normally keeps a heavy price tag on his wicket, was found selling his wicket on Snapdeal to the English bowlers at a heavy discount. The feet movement, the shot selection, and the tentative poke, everything reminded us of Inzamam against any quality pacer On a serious note, every batsman have their share of lean patch, its just how quickly one can come out of it that separates a good player from a great. There are a few fundamental errors in his batting style which has been exposed after this tour, but I am not going to write much about that since the Cricket analysts, armchair critics, pundits have all written pages of it already. Obviously, he is young and needs to practice harder to return into some sort of form, no one is denying that, but don't you think that we Indians are a bit premature in jumping to conclusions? Some have even gone on to say that Virat deserves to be â€œdroppedâ€. For a player who has been consistent for nearly 5 years, the word dropped is not appropriate; â€œrestedâ€ is the right word to be honest. After all, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan have all been rested for years, right? There are also rumours that Virat has lost his form due to his associations with Anushka Sharma. I don't think that's true, but if it is true than I humbly request Anushka Ji to stay away from it as we already have plethora of Sharmas who are sinking our ship, don't need another one! The real problem with Virat in my opinion is not lack of talent or lack of concentration. It's just that sometimes, he thinks too much of his failures as he is very passionate about his game. He comes across as a person who hates to get out even after scoring a double hundred in a Gully Cricket game. He is ready to punch the bowler on the face if he dares to appeal against him. His eyes speak the truth. After his recent dismissals, you can see frustration more than disappointment. He puts too much pressure on himself to perform and after he fails, he finds himself in a quagmire. While in quagmire, one must always remember that the more you grapple, the faster you will sink. Then, what is the way out? There is only one guy who can bring him out of the hole, and that obviously is Virat himself. Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together. The media have not spared him either which is absolutely fair as in his golden days, he was the chocolate boy of the crowds, he made news with almost every game he played, his knocks were the headlines of many a news agencies, and therefore the failures will also be criticized on the same scale as his good knocks were praised. His stay at the crease had been shorter than Arvind Kejriwal's stay as a Prime ministerial candidate. His scores have been fewer than the seats assembled by the Secular-forces in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. But as they say there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The breathtaking form that he was in since the last few years have shown us what Virat is capable of, and his recent failures have made us believe that he is a human being after all and that he has every right to fail on some occasions. It will be highly critical of us to say that he should be dropped because that will bring more negativity to his game which is seriously not what we want at this stage. At this point, we need someone who can tell him to play freely, unaffected by the consequences and give his best. He is simply too good to fail this badly for long. He has done remarkably well in challenging conditions all across the globe. Sometimes even the greats need one good innings to bring their confidence level back. A good stay at the wicket, feeling confident about the game, stroking the ball off the meat of the willow is all it takes to win the form back. We have an important Australian tour lined up this summer followed by the all important World Cup, and we would definitely need an in form Virat Kohli if we are to win these. The last thing we need is a mentally disintegrated Virat, battling with form to take guard downunder. On that note, I hope that Virat sorts his game and comes back stronger very soon. By the way, this is my silver jubilee article on ICF. Thanks guys for reading my work and encouraging me to keep writing
The Anderson saga proved what many already suspected,Cricket is still England's fiefdom.For the record,Anderson accepted he abused and pushed Jadeja and was still let off.Lets assume for a second that Jadeja turned threateningly towards Anderson and Anderson instinctively pushed him and hence the level 3 charges dont stick.But what about the abuses from Anderson?Is that not a level 2 offence?No punishment for that? This incident has proved that despite all the so called power of the much maligned BCCI,its the ECB that calls the shots.They got their player out of trouble and the BCCI just watched.It put the Indian team and Dhoni in a very uncomfortable position.All this when the Chairman of ICC is an Indian.
I dont think i need to remind the number of times Indian players have been fined/banned for lesser offences.Gautam Gambhir has been on the receiving end of such bans twice,allegedly for physical intimidation or contact.I am in no doubt that if and when Indian players try t give it back to the English teams,the match refree and ICC will come down on them,citing "Spirit of Cricket". Remember,this is the same England team whose coach and captain in 2011 walked into the Indian dressing room and begged them to rescind their appeal againist Bell,in the name of "Spirit of Cricket". The English media and ex players laid into Clarke and Aussie team when during the Ashes Anderson was sledged and now the same English media and ex players think Anderson is right and that Indian team blew up a trivial incident. There has been various incidents of misdemeanor by the English team,whether of trying to scruff the ball by using spikes in an "innocent mistake" in South Africa or the pushing of Pakistani players in UAE,no one have been punished in an appropriate manner.While the opposition players have been hauled up multiple times in the name of "Spirit of Cricket". All this proves that ECB is the body that controls cricket and BCCI has been lulled to have a sense of power,just to make them feel good.BCCI brings money,but ECB showed that they are the ones with real power and they can/will kick BCCI whenever they wish and BCCI cant do anything about it.The power of BCCI is a myth,they have power only till the likes of ECB allow them to wield it and its dwarfed by the powers of ECB. Lets not forget that ECB banned the IPL teams from playing in Ireland and the BCCI could not do a thing.Infact the BCCI just licked ECB's foot by granting them more matches during this present India tour. Let me also remind,Cricket the game is owned by a private club in London,called MCC.Perhaps the only international sport that is owned by a private club. About time,BCCI tries to grab some real power and if not then just shut the tap on ICC and lets see how they and ECB survive.Stand up and Show Some balls BCCI!!!!! UPDATE: Despite BCCI's request,ICC doesnt appeal Anderson's verdict.By rejecting BCCI's request ICC has shown that BCCI's so called power is a myth and their writ doesnt run.
Barmy Army humiliated him in Ashes 2011 by singing the Mitchell Johnson song “He bowls to left, He bowls to right, that Mitchell Johnson, His Bowling is Shyte!” Who would have imagined that this bowler will turn up to become the greatest bowler in Tests one day. In the 2010–11 Ashes series Johnson took more wickets than any other Australian with 15 (36.93) even though he played only 4 Tests. In the First Test at the Gabba he was hit for 3/130 in the match and was so out of form that he was dropped. Returning for the Third Test at the WACA he hit 62, took 6/38 and 4/44 was instrumental in Australia's 267 run victory. However, his wayward bowling returned and Johnson became the subject of a chanting by the Barmy Army whenever he bowled; “He bowls to the left, He bowls to the right, That Mitchell Johnson, His bowling is shyte”. In the Fifth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground England fans sang this as he walked to the crease and he made a first ball duck as England won by an innings to retain the Ashes. In July 2012, he admitted the jibes he’d received from England fans during successive Ashes series defeats had dented his confidence. Despite his poor Ashes series, Mitchell Johnson claimed a spot in the South African series. He did not performed in that series either, without picking up a 4 or 5 wicket haul, leaking many runs, and not contributing with the bat. He picked up a toe injury, escaping being dropped. He did find a spot in the playing XI later that year in the 3rd Test at Perth against South Africa. He bowled exquisitely, finishing with a four wicket haul. He also gained a place, in the Test series against Sri Lanka. Although he didn't play in the 1st Test, he was the man of the match in the 2nd claiming match figures of 4-79 as well as playing a brilliant 92 not out. He also played in the 3rd Test as an all-rounder due to Shane Watson's injury. He had a poor first innings with the ball and bat. With figures of 1-118 and only making 13, despite a fierce spell to Lahiru Thirimanne which, unfortunately, didn't claim any wickets. He did bowl well in the second innings, claiming the prized wicket of Dilshan and Thirimanne. Before the 3rd Test against India in March 2013, Australia dropped Mitchell Johnson, along with James Pattinson, Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja following a breach of discipline. After that Johnson has been accurate and aggressive with the new ball in his first IPL season. Though he was bought by Mumbai in the 2012 auction, injury forced him to sit out last year. This season though, Johnson has troubled batsman with his pace and ability to swing the ball in both directions. In the Test series in India before the IPL, Johnson featured in only the final match in Delhi, where he went wicketless. That was the first series Johnson played having recovered from a toe injury. After a year away from international cricket, including being dropped for the mid-season Ashes tour of England, Johnson returned to the Australia team for the return Ashes series in Australia. And this is when he changed totally. In the first innings of the first Test, after Australia ended with 295 all out (Johnson contributing 64), England were put under pressure by Johnson's intimidatingly quick and thunderously aggressive bowling style.
After claiming the wicket of Jonathan Trott just before lunch on the second day, he then dismissed Michael Carberry, Joe Root and Graeme Swann in successive overs, engineering a dramatic English collapse from 2/82 to 136 all out. He backed up his 4-61 in the first innings with 5-42 in the second to seal a crushing victory. In the next Test at Adelaide, Johnson produced arguably his best ever bowling performance, hurling down 150 km/h thunderbolts on a flat pitch.
After Australia scored 9/570, England were steady at 3/136 at lunch on the third day before Johnson again tore through their lineup, this time taking five wickets in three overs and finishing with 7-40 as England made only 172,] as Australia won the match by 218 runs. During this match Johnson entered the top ten Australian wicket takers in Test cricket. Johnson continued his exceptional form throughout the series, finding the consistency he had previously lacked, and taking 37 wickets in the five-match series, which Australia won 5-0. He was named Man of the Series, having been Man of the Match in 3 of the 5 matches (the 1st,2nd and 4th Tests).
Johnson said - “Being aggressive, bowling those short bowls, that’s what I am about,’’. “I’m never going to be one that will bowl line and length all day.” In his latest series against South Afrcia, He picked up 21 wickets in 3 matches scoring 66 runs in 4 innings.Thanks for reading a Comeback story of a Great bowler
We have stepped into the year 2026 and before I could wish you all a very happy new year, there is some sad news for all of us that has popped up out of nowhere. Hearing about the retirement of a legendary Cricketer of your country is not the ideal way to start a new year. And when the Legend is "The Right Arm Fast Umm Off Break" bowler, there is nothing more heartbreaking. I am talking about the living Legend Ishant Sharma. Just a few days back, Ishant had announced his retirement from all forms of the game citing "personal" reasons. The Cricketing fraternity had been in state of delirium ever since they heard this news. "He has been a Legend, serving our country for around 19 years is no mean achievement"said Rohit Sharma former Indian Cricketer. The journey of Ishant has been riveting. He has had his share of ups and downs, but after 2015 World Cup, he had sorted that consistency out, and from thereon he only had downs in his career. "The consistency with which he bowls those wide of the stump half volleys is commendable" said Kumar Sangakkara former Sri Lankan Cheat Cricketer.
Ishant will be playing his final Test against Bermuda on a minefield in Kanpur. Although Bermuda isn't a Test playing nation and has in fact not played any Cricket since 2007 World Cup, BCCI chief N. Srinivasan has used all his influence to make sure that Bermuda gets a temporary Test status to not only give Ishant the Perfect farewell, but also to get rid off India's overseas Test jinx since 2011. "There you see Macha, killing two birds with one stone" said Srinivasan. The internet world has been trending various reasons for Ishant's retirement. however we got a chance to meet Ishant for two minutes wherein he disclosed his"personal" issue. "I was furious when I did not make it to the playing XI of my Mohalla. I told them I am in the Playing XI of India, why can I not be in the Mohalla's playing XI. I was disappointed, and had made up my mind that I will be calling it quits." Ishant has had an astonishing career, a career full of question marks. His place in the Playing XI was always in question, but he always made sure he convinced his captain and more importantly the selectors. "I remember a selector coming up to me and saying that my average in Tests has gone down from 33 to 36 in less than a years time and I should consider my continuity in the Playing XI, I was bemused, but my response was rather analytical : If you could keep Dhawan whose average dropped from 187 to 40 in no time, if you could not think of dropping Rohit whose average dipped from 300 to 60 in a couple of months, why can't you keep me in playing XI then?" said a rather enthusiastic Ishant. Ishant's career was rather exemplary. In the 144 Tests that he has played, Ishant has taken 287 wickets at an unbelievable average of 59 and more importantly at a strike rate of 127. When asked about the fear he had about someone else surpassing his strike rate, he said "Yes, I think Harbhajan and Ashwin were always in the hunt, but I made sure I don't crumble under peer pressure, I made every ball count, and then the team management deciding to not play them anymore was the last nail in the coffin". Ishant is beyond numbers, statistics and to top it all beyond logic. The number of dot balls he has bowled in his Test career are equal to the number of times Afridi has reached double digits in his innings. "He is a very fit bowler. To give that kind of send off to a tailender that he gave today, with full energy, especially after bowling close to 50 overs in the innings is amazing. The last time I saw someone give that kind of sendoff was again Ishant when he got his previous Test wicket about 12 months ago"exclaimed Waqar Yunus, former Pakistani quickie while commentating in the recently concluded India - Pakistan 14th Jeet Lo Dil series. There have been various comments from many Cricketing greats, here are a few of them : "First, he will bowl leg stump half volleys, then he will bowl 110 kph half trackers, then after 50 overs, you will throw your wicket away, then he will gives a send off and then he thinks he has won" - Mahatma Gavaskar, One of India's finest batsman."I wish I were in the opposition team, I would have created history facing him , it would have rejuvenated my career(" - Virender Sehwag, former Indian FTB."Beneath the long, tousled, unkempt hairs, inside the cranium, there is something we don't know, there is something even he himself doesn't know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to trundle, to demolish all hopes gathered, to feature in the playing XI no matter how worse his performances are, something that even those who are better than him cannot fathom. When he goes out to bowl, people switch off their television sets and abuse the hell out of him." - BBC"I saw him bowling in a Test match and was struck by his bowling technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself bowl but I felt this bowler is bowling with a style similar to mine when I was completely out of form, and she looked at him on TV and gave me a stare followed by a hard tight slap on my face and went to bed shouting "There is nothing similar to you even when you were in one of those worst of forms except the fact that you both held Kookaburras in hand" - Ajit Agarkar, Unsung hero of Indian Cricket."I would have been in my wheel chair with a sore hand if I were to face Ishant Shamra, playing those spooky square cuts and flicks the whole day" - Ricky Ponting, Ishant's bunny. "We never won against India, we always won against Ishant" - Mushfiqur Rahim, former Bangladeshi skipper. When you have the respect of one of the most honoured men above, you know we are talking about a sensation. The tall, lanky Delhi lad, who started off as a brisk quickie soon withered away and with every passing year, he ran in two yards short and bowled 5 kph slower. Eventually as it turned out, he was a "Right arm fast off break". "I used to field at deep mid wicket when Ishant used to bowl with the new ball in Tests. It was very exciting, it never felt like deep mid wicket, it felt more like short cover, I had to make a move every ball, and I think, apart from the wicket keeper, almost everyone had to be up on their toes while Ishant was bowling, such was the aura of this great man" said Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant's former team mate. With a legend like him retiring, there is a wide gulf left to be filled in Indian Cricket, although there are many capable to fill in his shoes, the point here is that who will get a go at his place in the Playing XI. For now, its sad faces all around, mourning the exit of the finest 6 ft 5 inch bowler India has ever produced.
In a few day's time, cricket will lose its finest pearl once Sachin Tendulkar plays his final game against the West Indies at his home ground - The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Not just the fans in India, but even the Cricket lovers across the globe will have an emotional day when the maestro retires from international cricket. One just simply do not get the amount of respect and love that he does, there has to be something supernatural about him. What is he to the people? A superman? A phenom? A skillful artist? A legend? Or above all - "The God of Cricket"? Well the superlatives used for this great man are endless, so he is a mix of all these for the fanatics.
There are many articles published about his greatness, his illustrious career, his prolific batting style, his incredible records, his sheer dominance even against the greatest bowling attacks in the world, his batting skills against both pace and spin, his match winning knocks in crucial situations, his journey from a 16 year old boy to a 40 year old man, having the same intensity, the same hunger for runs and carrying the same passion for the game all along his 24 year career. But its not just about what he has done for the game, its about what has he left behind to fill. He has created space so wide, that it will be almost impossible to fill this huge gulf. I really doubt if anyone could fill his shoe, for its not just a pair of shoes, its an entire shoe-rack. Cricket has had its own share of evolution, be it the constant change in the rules by the Cricket council, or the changes in the strategies and game-plans by the opposition team. In the last two decades, the modifications in the way the game has been played is quite spectacular. But even more spectacular is the ability of this man to adapt to different rules, different plans, and come out trumps even in the most adverse circumstances. He raised the bar of standard whenever the situation demanded. Many aspirants have taken a leaf out of his book, but that will not be enough to fill the gulf he has created. Now, coming to his records, they are simply unbreakable. I mean, these are not just mere numbers, these are astounding achievements - 463 ODI appearances, 200 Test matches, over 34,000 international runs, and above all "The century of centuries". His records are here to stay. His records shine like a bright sun, a sun which no one can surpass because the moment one starts getting closer to it, he will start feeling the heat and chances are that he may burn out. The pressure under which the master has performed needs no introduction. He has won a billion hearts every time he has walked on into a cricket field. He has always performed above expectations, and we all know that the expectations of people from him have been no mundane. But having said all this, what will happen once he retires? Will the crowd go silent? Will the spectators not rejoice as much as they did when he used to bat? Well, to answer this question, we need to look at the enthusiasm of people, with and without Sachin. Without Sachin, there will not be the extra 5,000-10,000 people that will turn up to the ground above its capacity. Without Sachin, there will be no one found sitting on the trees, on the roof tops of buildings, watching from the balcony or the terraces of their homes. Without Sachin, there will not be any long queues of people watching the game, outside a TV showroom, showing the game, just to catch a glimpse of his batting. Without Sachin, there will be no staff in office, willing to sacrifice their work, gather at the cafeteria to catch his batting. There will be no nails bitten if a player reaches "nineties", nor will there be words on the lips, praying for his century. The chants of "Sachin.... Sachin" will not be the same anymore. But the most touching fact, would be the blank face with no expression in response to the imperative question that always follows "Whats India's score?", and that question is "What is Sachin's score?".It will definitely take some time for the people to get use to Cricket without Sachin. It will not be easy to forget him and accept the fact that he doesn't play Cricket anymore. But as the Shakespeare once said "The show must go on", eventually people will overcome this exit. What does this end indicates? It marks the end to a fascinating career, a career that silenced many critics, a career that gave world reasons to be proud of Indian Cricket. It is curtains to the once in a lifetime player, who will not be seen on a Cricket field in Indian colours anymore.
If you ask me, it is not just the end, but a move towards "New beginning". The exit of Sachin from Cricket would mean, turning of spotlight on some other player. Although relatively speaking, it is almost impossible to find his replacement in Cricket, many players who show signs and potential of being a world class batsman will be looked upon and sometimes even compared with this great man. It would probably be the biggest compliment one could get if he is being compared with none other than Sachin Tendulkar. Even Sachin felt honoured and privileged when the Don himself compared his batting style to his own. It not only shows that you have some spark in you, it also shows that you have the capability of doing something magical, something inhuman. Sachin always believed that performance is the parameter and consistency is the key for success. For people to love a player, there must be a feeling of "The more I see him bat, the more I want to see him bat". The thing that excites the cricket lovers is the sheer determination of a player to keep getting better, irrespective of the remarkable achievements one has already bagged. This is what separates the greatest player from the greats. It is not always the high value shots that gets the crowd buzzing, sometimes even a strong resolute defence is good enough for the applause of the crowd. Its not always the wham bam cricket that makes you a champion, sometimes even composure in a high-tension situation is worth its weight in gold. Cricket has seen many greats come and go, some are remembered while some others are forgotten. But forgetting someone like Sachin is a cardinal sin. One just simply cannot forget him for all his has given to the game. We have some quality players with great potentials in cricket today. Young turks like Virat Kohli in ODIs and Alistair Cook in tests are considered future "All time greats" and are already considered good candidates to break Sachin's records. But if you ask me, they will need a career full of purple patch to even think of getting close to Sachin's brilliance, let alone breaking his records. To be honest, no five fingers of a hand are the same. Similarly, no two players are the same and therefore cannot be compared. They are all great in their own way and in their own style. But earmarking them as "potential threats" to Sachin's records is adding unnecessary pressure to perform. I believe that records are meant to be broken, and some day, even Sachin's records will be broken by someone. That day, will be the biggest day for World Cricket because that very day, Cricket will get the replacement for Sachin. Even then, in the hearts of a billion people, Sachin will still be 200 not out, Sachin will still hold the throne like an undefeated, unconquered emperor.
It was a routine day at the office. Staring aimlessly at our computer screens, doing the mundane tasks and wondering whether this is what we would be doing for the rest of our lives. Suddenly, a colleague of mine comes up and says, "Sagar, are you ok? I said, "Obviuosly yes, why what happened?" He said, "Then I bet you haven't seen the news yet". We switched on the TV, and there was it! The dreaded news of my hero's retirement was there. Right in front of me. I did not believe it till I saw it. I kept saying to myself that no this is just a prank and this can't happen. And then I saw it. I just did not know what to say or do at that very instant. I have been a vociferous Sachin fan since childhood( would always be) and I make it a point that everyone around me knows it. It was funny how everyone came to me and asked whether I was ok! By then, I had found my poker face by virtue of the numbness, this news had brought about in me. Every one around me was surprised by my nonchalance over the retirement of Sachin. But deep down, I felt like Sachin, beaten by a snorter of a delivery but standing there, like a zen, unfazed. My trysts with Sachin. Sachin and me go back a long long way. I was 2 when he made his debut. So, I am from the '90s and it's obvious, those who have seen cricket in the '90s, actually know what Sachin meant to India. Being the younger sibling of a cricket crazy boy, it was imminent that I took to cricket. But, surprisingly, I developed a keen interest in cricket in, as late as '96. But, I did watch cricket on TV only when this young boy was batting. I did not understand anything about cricket then. But, I made it a point that I saw him bat. I used to rejoice the boundaries and cried when he got out. What made me cry? I still don't know! But when Sachin was batting, I felt nervous. Whenever he came out to bat, my heart would start pumping as hard as it can. It was as if I am walking out to bat! When he hit a 4, it was like I had hit one. If a bowler stared at him, it was as if I was being stared at and I loathed the bowlers who got him out. This trend continued till the '96 World cup. I was 9 till then, and had developed a keen interest in watching and playing cricket. This marked the next phase of my tryst with Sachin! I had began playing with the big boys now. And how much I felt like Sachin even then! I was short, and would play with all the tall boys and I was the youngest of the lot too! I made it a point that I always played with a heavy bat and a bottom handed grip. And who can forget the MRF stickers on the bat! I stood in front of the mirrors for hours, practicing the Sachin stance. But, unknowingly, I practiced the Sachin expression too. I made it a point that I always wore a bracelet in my right hand. This, to ensure that before bowling a bowl, I shrug my right hand to get the bracelet back, just like Sachin did. By then, Sachin was the best batsmen of his generation. And I think I was also in my colony! I felt so much like Sachin till then. But, I remember this phase also for the fact that I used to fight with anyone who said anything ill about Sachin. Maybe I didn't realize that my hero always answered his critics without uttering a single word. As I grew older, Sachin was breaking one record after another. I remember mourning his father's death in '99. And I surely cried when he made that 100 against Kenya. My admiration for the man grew even further. The 2000's. I was relieved like hell that Sachin's name did not crop up in the match-fixing saga. It was a tumultuous time for us cricket fans but I was happy for the fact that my hero was not a crook. He never looked or seemed one and he was not. By then, Sachin had quit captaincy and it was handed over to Ganguly and we saw a new India and a new Sachin. A more sedate, calm and who knew when to do what. But, my most fav Sachin memory came in the year 2000. When he FO'ed and MC,BC'ed Glen McGrath in Nairobi. I have never seen that. I have seen the fire in his eyes so many times but Sachin and abusing? That's for the ages! It's ironical that he never did it again. But, we had developed a stronger team with match winners and the burden on him lessened. But, the burden of being Sachin was there. There was the 2003 WC, where he carried the team to the final. The 6 of Shoaib marked a new era in Indo-Pak cricket just like Miandad's did in '86. But, he faltered in the finals. That was the first time I heard people calling him a choker. And I hated those. His face whilst receiving the MoS award said it all. And even though I was 15+ till then, I cried. Tennic Elbow This was the toughest period for the Sachin fan in me. There were talks about his retirement which started scaring me! I was too young and naive then to imagine a life without Sachin's batting. I stopped watching the matches which Sachin skipped. He did make a comeback but it was never really the Sachin of the old. But, as long as he scored I was happy. Then the 2007 WC happened, which was an all time low for me. Sachin was blamed for our early exit from the WC. There were talks about him being selfish and lingering on for money. It could not have gone any worse for me. The True hero As always he had shunted the critics without uttering a single word. He started scoring everywhere and in the same manner again! Most importantly he seemed fearless again! He started finishing off matches, and scored at important junctures again. This phase also had a special moment for me. I had joined my first companyin Nov 2008 and then day the mumbai attacks happened, my allocation was to Mumbai! There was so much of apprehension on the part of my close one's when I was going to Mumbai. But, the day I landed in Mumbai, Sachin scored a 100 in the 4th innings and said that he did it for Mumbai! It was as if he had done it for me! I was 20+ till then, but still felt I had a lump in my throat. As I moved on with my life, Sachin was also murdering attacks all around. This has always meant a happy and lucky phase in my life. I remember how all of us flocked the cafeterias and pump fisted unanimously the day he scored 200. It was as if I was the first man to do so. 2011 World Cup. The 2011 WC was won and I was happy only coz we won it with Sachin. I remember telling everyone during the semi finals that if Sachin is struggling like this then it's bound to be a tough pitch. And it surely was! Him running around like a kid with the cup would be something that would be etched in my mind forever. 100th 100 Then began the decline. the reflexes suddenly had slowed down. The pursuit of a milestone took to my hero. Finally we saw the humanely streak in him. Week after week, inning after inning, we could see him getting close to the landmark and faltering. It was frustrating to say the least. But, as always, the day he got it, was a special day for me. My first bike was delivered the very same day he scored that 100. I felt, maybe this is what they mean by karmic connection!What Sachin means to me I know, this write up may seem stupid. How can it be that Sachin's runs/form/health can affect my life. But, isn't this relation that most of us have with Sachin? He has united us since the last 24 years. I bet every second, at some nook or cranny in India, there would be a debate on Sachin or a young boy would be aspiring to be the next Sachin. He is beyond numbers,records , stats. this write up in insanely long but believe me I have cut it short. Me and Sachin have shared a karmic connection on every single day for the past 24 years. Is he the best batsman ever? Have there been better batters than him? I don't know and frankly I don't care. I share something intangible with Sachin. Now, I don't get angry when someone pulls Sachin down. Maybe I have learnt from Sachin to not to pay heed to critics. He has taught me so many life lessons on hard work, grit, determination. He has shown me how to be a competitive without looking ugly. To sum it up, all I can say is, thanks for the memories Sachin!