“In a career that is marked by grace, style and beautiful batsmanship, it’s a slog that’s ended Rahul Dravid‘s career. But once again, it was what was needed.” – Harsha Bhogle.
Shattering of stumps imparts a finality to the whole proceedings on a cricket ground; it is something that no other action on the field is able to do. Rahul Dravid’s career ended just like that. Quite abruptly.
It was dubbed as a clash between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, and how aptly it ended, adhering to the script of their lives; Sachin Tendulkar basking in all the glory, while Rahul Dravid pushed to the background, amidst the shadows, with no spotlight, but abundant respect.
A beautiful game of cricket
The number of spectacular shots witnessed in those four hours was something to be seen to be believed and marvelled at. Tendulkar played that heart-warming cover drive; Rohit Sharma crouched a little and swept a length ball for a gorgeous six; Maxwell walked forward and let loose a pendulum to hit one straight down the ground; Sanju Samson used his long, lever-like limbs to great measure, to mesmerise everyone; and Ajinkya Rahane played like he has been throughout the tournament, quite silkily.
But Rahul Dravid, of all people, played an ugly innings. And as anti-climatic as it was, “it was what was needed”. Having dropped himself down the order, Dravid always knew it was going to be a slam-bang stay in the middle or nothing.
The oft overused word – replacements
Despite what the result of the game was, there’s no doubt that both Dravid and Tendulkar would see what happened today as a victory for both of them.
It was hard to overlook the connection. Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane, aged all of 18 and 25 respectively, batted fearlessly on a huge occasion, with Samson taking the centre stage like the Mumbai maestro and Rahane supporting him oh-so-well in his franchise skipper’s image.
Till the time these two men from Kerala and Maharashtra were together at the crease, the possibilities and comparisons were breaking the floodgates.
It’s absolutely ridiculous to hope from someone so young to emulate such greatness, but Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane made people return with happy memories from a day Tendulkar and Dravid were waving goodbyes. That’s some achievement.
Side characters in an epic finale? Most definitely not!
Pravin Tambe, Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh, not to forget Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard and Glenn Maxwell, played such hands in the final which if forgotten, would be criminal to say the least.
Tambe, turning 42 tomorrow, will celebrate his birthday with the Golden Ball award, having followed his performances of 4/15, 2/17, 1/17 and 3/10 with 2/19 in the final, collecting 12 wickets after bowling 19 overs for just 78 runs in the tournament. Those collective figures would be considered respectful in a Test match.
Rohit Sharma averaged above 43 at a strike-rate of almost 152 in 5 matches. But leave those numbers aside; they don’t factor in the beauty of it all. He has played some exquisite cricket in the last one month and it’ll be a disaster, despite how big a troll target he has been in the past, if his form is not utilised in Test cricket. After witnessing the smooth hits to and over the boundary ropes, many of them worth their wait, it’s not too hard to understand why he’s been given such a long rope.
And finally, Harbhajan Singh, who turned the game on its head with an over where he picked up the wickets of Rahane, Stuart Binny and Kevon Cooper, all three of them the batsmen whom their side depends on for winning them matches. Rahane picked the deep mid wicket fielder for catching practice, Binny looked lost in front of the faster and straighter ones from Bhajji, the second one finding his leg stump.
A rank bad ball later, Harbhajan produced a doosra, which spun past Cooper’s hoick; Dinesh Karthik broke the stumps, with the West Indian possibly millimetres short of getting his foot behind the line. And all this from Harbhajan, after he took a catch running back to dismiss the dangerous Sanju Samson, despite temporarily losing the ball in the lights.
The night dedicated to the two heroes actually witnessed heroics from plenty more.
Even as the camera zoomed in on Sachin Tendulkar’s face, his childlike joy quite visible on the screen, it was sad to see Dravid ending on a losing note.
The end came, quite ironically, in a T20; even the last few moments of watching him walk back were compact as the next ball had to be bowled, and the game needed to move on.
Yes, the game does need to move on.