Thanking everyone who helped Sachin wave a happy goodbye to ODIs
If you take Bradman’s monumental batting average out of the equation – one record which could make every other cricketer envy it has to be said – everything else belongs to Indian batting maestro, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He owns every batting record possible, especially in ODIs. Be it number of matches played or centuries scored, he leads everyone by quite a distance. Add to that, he has hit 96 half centuries and has also struck 2416 boundaries – the maximum by anyone dead or alive.
Looking at his records in ODIs, you can bet your bottom dollar that no one will succeed in giving him a run for his money, not at least in this century. So when the great man called it a day from ODI cricket, he should have been the most satisfied individual ever to have bid adieu to the game. However, in spite of holding all possible records as a cricketer, he would have still felt impoverished had he not been a part of the team which won the Cricket World Cup in 2011.
All those mind blowing records which were the by-products of his batting prowess would have given him no joy if he had made his exit without having wrapped his fingers around the most coveted trophy of the game. Thankfully though, in what would have been his final World Cup, he was able to fulfill the dream which had eluded him in the previous five attempts. When Virat Kohli was asked about the team’s gesture of carrying the little master over their shoulders, parading him all around Wankhede Stadium at the end of the final, the youngster aptly replied that Tendulkar had carried the burden of the nation for 21 years and so it was time they carried him. In fact, the intention of giving something in return to the Indian batting genius would have motivated all the members of the side to register a faultless performance all throughout the World Cup.
Whatsoever be the case, on behalf of Sachin, it is time for us to stand up and thank each and every member of the MS Dhoni-led team for all the efforts put forward by them in helping the veteran realize his long awaited dream last year. Everyone played his part so well that it brought about tears out of the eyes of the little master, who, by the way, was not known for displaying emotions on the field.
He might have broken Sachin’s highest individual score last year, yet we can absolve him for this sin on the basis of the demolition act which he was able to put forth in the World Cup 2011. Of course, he did not do anything special in the final against Sri Lanka but then he needs to be applauded for the way he started firing on all cylinders in the semifinal match against Pakistan. Though his score of 38 might not look appealing, let me tell you – the pace at which the runs were mustered gave the much needed boost at the start of the innings. As many as nine boundaries were hit by him during his brief stint. His quick fire start helped India compile a defendable score despite the fact that things slowed down a bit in the middle of the innings. Even in the very first match of the World Cup against Bangladesh, the Delhi batsman notched up a blistering century, facilitating his side to get well past 300 runs. So, I would like to whole-heartedly extend my thanks to Viru for scoring consistently at the top of the order.
No words of appreciation would do justice if one was to commend Gambhir for his batting display in the World Cup, especially in the final. When India lost Sehwag and Sachin in quick succession, it looked all over for the batting side, chasing a mammoth target of 275 runs. It was then that Gauti played a sensible knock of defense coupled with aggression. He made sure that the target did not go out of reach even while playing cautiously. He enjoyed two outstanding partnerships – first with Kohli and the next one with MSD. Though he was a slow runner between the wickets, he hardly let us recognize that weakness as he was rotating the strike quite well. In the end when he was out bowled while throwing caution to the wind, he had done enough to get India closer to the victory line. He narrowly missed the Man of the match award in the final but then in my opinion, it was his innings which took India home. His half century against Australia in the quarter final also proved to be an important one in the World Cup. Hence I would like to thank Gauti for hanging in there at one end in the final, amidst the ruins.
3. Virat Kohli
This youngster looks to be the chosen one right now for the Indian team. At least that’s what Sachin himself felt when he picked him to go past his records. Whenever he occupies the crease, we can see the hunger for runs written all over his face. He was one of the two centurions in India’s first match against Bangladesh in the World Cup 2011, the other one being Sehwag. He amassed his hundred from just 83 balls, staying not out till the end. The first match of any tournament should always be treated as a crucial one, and the fact that India won the match only by 87 runs even after scoring 370, makes his innings even more important. And yes, that unforgettable innings in the final where he provided able support to his Delhi counterpart Gambhir also requires a special mention. This Delhi youngster needs to be thanked not only for his batting showdown in the World Cup, but also for the kind words he had to say about Sachin Tendulkar.
4. Yuvraj Singh
Many questions were raised on the selection of Yuvraj Singh in the Indian team prior to the World Cup 2011. But eventually, it was this man from Punjab who was crowned Man of the Series. Be it batting or bowling, he kept on justifying his selection right from day one. He was the most consistent of all Indian cricketers in the World Cup 2011. Playing under the scorching heat in Chennai, he crafted a well organized century against West Indies; an innings which I am sure would have been etched in everyone’s memory. His willow spoke again in the very next match in the quarter finals against the then defending champions Australia. The Indian team had always done pretty badly against Australia, especially in the knock out stages during all previous World Cups. But Yuvi’s mental strength and confidence erased all bad memories as India romped home successfully, chasing down the target of 260 rather easily. It was totally his World Cup on the whole. If Sachin had his hold on the World Cup finally, it goes without saying that this man deserves most of the credit for that.
If ever there was a memorable performance which the so called “Captain Cool” exhibited in the last couple of years, it had to be his innings at the World Cup final. Promoting himself boldly ahead of the man in form, Yuvraj Singh, he played with great spirit and determination all the way. After Kohli’s departure, he guided the innings very nicely, partnering himself with Gambhir, hitting the headlines everywhere under the tag “Cometh the hour, cometh the man”, the next morning. Even though I am not a big fan of his batting abilities, I cannot undermine his efforts in the World Cup final, where he played a captain’s innings right from the onset. Since he stayed not out till the end, hitting the winning runs of the match, he pipped Gambhir to the Man of the Match award. So, I would like to express my sincere and heart-felt gratitude to Dhoni for making it happen and assisting the master blaster in realizing his dream at last.
Besides the aforementioned individuals, I think it is appropriate not to leave out other significant contributions like Raina’s cameo against Pakistan and Zaheer Khan’s bowling against England. I would like to extend my thanks to both of them too. Also, I would like to thank Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and Ravi Ashwin for their endeavours with the ball.
On the whole, it was a fantastic team effort by the whole team which gave India their first World Cup since 1983. It was the best souvenir Sachin could have hoped for before the commencement of the tournament and he must have been proud to have it gifted by his team mates. I am sure when Sachin was tweeting about his retirement from One day cricket two days back, he would have done it with a smile, reminiscing the events of last year.