"India scored 6 before Sachin came in and 4 after he got out. To score 17 runs was way beyond their ability." - Arunabha Sengupta, cricket writer.
Thus can be summarized the story of the lone warrior, in one his greatest epics, a tragedy in cricket that will always make you grimace when you think about it. Sachin Tendulkar, on 31st January, 1999 played one of the great knocks while chasing a target down single-handedly. The venue was Chennai and the opposition was Pakistan. The target was 271 and the bowling attack fairly strong. Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain and Afridi more than make a threat when you are chasing a target of this magnitude with so much pressure on you. Predictably, the other batsmen fell in a heap, with only Mongia managing to make more than 10 runs. Sach was life then. Tendulkar was the only man who could have taken India to victory and bit by bit, with brilliant strokes and dogged determination, he began doing that. His back was hurting and he had limited support at the other end, but he batted like losing wasn’t an option. He picked up the pace after his half century and was able to take all the bowlers apart, including Saqlain. And then it happened. The one shot that all Indians wish would undone. The leading edge that went to the offside and was caught. The heroic effort would end in a tragedy, for the others in the Indian team could not put together the requisite 17 runs. The lone action hero walked away to a standing ovation, but surely with a feeling that he left the job undone. When the awards ceremony was going on, he was inconsolably locked up in the dressing room. An innings such as this would have rivaled Lara’s 153* against Australia, but in some sense, the tragedy added a sheen to it that makes it more enduring. Indeed, his 103* against England at the same venue years later seems fulfilling, but not touching in the same way.
My personal tragedy was that despite watching most of the great innings by the little man, this is one that I could not see as it happened. I was appearing for the national level entrance examinations for NCST (National center for software technology), where we were supposed to answer a series of papers through the day. Lord knows my mind was nowhere near the questions I was supposed to answer. After every paper, in the interim break, I would rush out to a payphone, insert a coin and call home to ask the score. I remember walking back to the railway station with a bunch of folks, one of whom had a radio. Tendulkar had just departed and we were subjected to the ignominy of the Indian loss after that. Tragedy begets tragedy, and mine will be being relegated to watching one of Tendulkar’s greatest innings in Youtube videos.
Friday, January 25, 2013
My Friday Funk story: We were stalled at the traffic light. The car and I. I had one hand firmly placed on the steering wheel and the other on my forehead, covering the frowns as I was going through the list of things I needed to do at work today. The music rang on unaffected and unaffecting. Then, from the music system seeped out the song 'Main Pareshaan' (loose translation: 'I am worried'). The irony broke the reverie and cracked me up. Sometimes the uenxpected is required to turn funk into fun.
Saturday, January 05, 2013
The Spark magazine turns three year old and the special occasion was marked by a Potpourri issue. I wrote up some super short fiction with a theme I had been toying for a while - Four different places, four different pairs of people – one common setting. Two chairs across a table and a solitary object between them. What happens next? Find out for yourself.