Amidst all the mediocrity in behavior surrounding him, the great man did what only he can. He played a masterly knock to further deepen the crevices in an increasingly ordinary looking Australian side. In doing so, he silenced his critics for the umpteenth in his career, all this nonsense about his “second innings” weakness. What an innings it was, sheer artistry combined with focus and determination, abundunce in intelligence and all that, reminding me a lot of music concerts of our very own Sanjay Subrahmanyan.
What was even more glorious to watch was his interaction with supposedly his protege, Rohit Sharma. No one can deny the fact that Rohit Sharma played a gem of an innings, something he could probably have done so only in the presence of the master himself. Sharma did return the favor by running for life when Tendulkar was nearing his hundred doing everything he possibly could to ensure that the maestro walk away from Australia this time with atleast a one day hundred on its soil.
It was interesting to hear how the Aussie commentators, at the start of the innings, constantly referred to the fact that India’s winning chances depended entirely on Tendulkar stay the course in a vein that sounded like a subliminal prayer for his dismissal. Their words certainly came true while their hearts may have grieved.
Back to the man and the innings, you could sense from the word go that he was going to glue himself to the wicket and the sticky conditions come what may and see India start on a winning note in this finale. Nothing would deter him, not even the deliberate (did I say deliberate, oops it was a slip! Who knows where the truth lies.) attempt on his ribs by one Mr. Lee (it is starting to get a little to irritatingly frequent from this bowler). A smile, a pat on the back and a tame apology after an ugly episode such as this is a poor man’s version of a sore loser. Unlike other sore losers, the high road seeking genius put an immediate end to any speculation of deliberate cause by accepting the apology even if it came from Lee.
My wife, who does not watch much cricket these days, had this say about the Aussie behavior of late, “Mr. Bradman would be turning in his grave”. The Australian team under Ricky Ponting may have played great cricket most of the time but have thrown away every inch of the respect that they earned over the years. All the glory years brought to its lowest and dirtiest state by one man in a jiffy. Steve Waugh’s Australia looks angelic in comparison. India’s gutsy performance through the series aided by the occasional wins by Sri Lanka has brought the true shady colors of Mr. Ponting and his crew.
Amidst all this, one little man stands tall. Thank you, Sir Tendulkar!!