I hope you’re not offended with Tanmay. I know you’d not be, this is not a new thing to you. You’ve have already been through things like this since the last 27 years at least. And then we’ve had Harshas as well. So even if they’ve done exceedingly well, they’ve made you subject of debate or scrutiny for more than that. As the world is doing what it does at best: commenting, concluding, judging, your reaction to this is of supreme importance, given the timing of the issue and the backdrop. Your reaction would set the tone to what is very important and almost a decider kind of phase for the country. What is to note and to be more cautious of is that our people are almost a nasty bunch, always in a hurry to conclude often setting precursor to unpleasant incidents, rather as good as accidents!
So, I’m requesting you not to get offended, for from where I see things, it’s like a landscape similar to 2003 World cup. If a certificate of being world’s best nation overall were to be a world cup, India is most likely to get it now. On that pitch the term “Team India” is yet to be coined or the world is seeing India like that now. As if it’s ‘The Team’ to be prepared against. Even the likes of Tim Cooks are forced to drop to India and inspect the pitch all by themselves. The nation as a team has all the ingredients that it takes. But then somehow this is a team that hasn’t done well recently, despite being capable enough.
The backdrop is somewhat like the team coming back of a forgettable long tough tour like New Zealand (like slower days of 2010-2014), moving into a world cup (race for better nations by virtue of disruption and efficiency overall). Some poor shows in easy matches like against Netherlands (read governance overall on easiest of winning grounds) followed by a timid show against a challenging Australia (things on tougher grounds while champion sides surge ahead), this has got things messy and unfortunate back home in the countryside again. And this is not the first time, as you’ve been seeing things in recent times.
You’ve already seen the intolerance cup, the nationalism series, the water test match. Tanmay spell would be the last thing you would have liked to happen. But now that you can’t help it, the onus is on you once again to bind the team, inspire them as India chases a mammoth total.
I wonder if you’re aware what Tanmay has done. If you look closer he did something like Zaheer in the finals. He attempted a satire of high stakes, ending up spraying extras here and there, just couldn’t pull off what its required in Finals, otherwise the plot was fine, he’s been equally promising. While I’ll take you through his spell later, but then his bad spell has turned the target even bigger, which has to be chased in order to be world champions, and here in 2003, mostly it rests on you.
Half way through the innings people have already started judging him. He’s already squandered, and it has come to you to steer. And unlike that final, I’d not like you to lose here. Similar to then you’re already “Man of Series” even before the match began. If you end up pulling premeditatedly, it would be like losing your wicket. You’ll also end up setting wrong examples, like you remember how Saurav ended up getting intimidated, he was smiling after a clueless six. And if it happens to rain, the outfield would get slower. Dravid and Yuvraj coming down the line would be forced clear the ground for the lack of boundaries. In the end India will lose. You would still pick the man of the series trophy but not happily.
And if that happens the story in this cup would be grim, and this is how it would translate into:
You’ve Saurav (equivalent to inspiring NaMo) at the other end struggling hard to build a team today. He has been someone who has played through evolving 80s, has seen that despite having Gavaskars, Kapil Devs, Srrikanths, India was never close to be a consistent champion side. As he burst into driving seat, into the stage of representing India, he luckily got along with you Dravids, Kumbles, Srinaths, VVS. While he himself earned that spot with lots of difficulties (like way back in 1997, 98, he tried so hard that on many occasions it gave impressions that he was selfish), he also got into process of knitting the team after the match fixing low of 2000. You remember consoling the world by saying it’s a changing phase, things will change. Meanwhile Dada and Harsha were the only optimistic people then, who shaped what would be Team India in due course of time.
Its only now that India’s a champion side, neck to neck with the world champions, with someone like Dada (or NaMo leading what he has built). Its only now that even if it is on paper, India is the only side in the world capable of beating reigning champions. He’s already brought the drive to win against the world across, He has weaved a formidable team backing Yuvrajs Bhajji, Zaheer, persuading Srinath out of retirement. He has reinvented that winning attitude after ages. And we must remember that we’ve plenty of Dravids who are keeping wickets and still chasing, guiding Yuvrajs to keep themselves until they’re through.
While the win comes only by a team effort, your approach is still supreme. Your presence still matters. Your one wrong pull might lead to an extremely dejected Saurav. He’ll have to appear with a twisted lip saying, “Extremely sorry for having fans let down.” He might never bat with the flourish or lead with same enthusiasm hereafter.
The team because its good it certainly would become world champions, but only after some more years. By then Dravids would have hung their boots. Saurav would be happy, commenting, but not with you on the ground along the victory lap. All of this can happen again, way earlier right in 2003, you just need to be little bit more calm. Your role is important again !