From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.35 :: NO.14 :: Apr. 05, 2012
The Asia Cup final left the members of the host nation in tears as it was a case of being so near yet so far. The young and talented Bangladesh side played extremely well right through the tournament and while they might have lost the hard fought final, they sure ended up winning a lot of hearts. It was a fitting climax to what was an eventful tournament in which the Indians yet again were left in the lurch despite putting up a couple of good performances. Sachin Tendulkar got to his much awaited landmark of 100 international centuries and if ever there was a moment of immense relief for him in his long career, it was probably on completing his single to reach the milestone. Many of his fans would have preferred that it did not happen against Bangladesh, but not even Tendulkar can predict the day on which he would get a three-figure mark with pinpoint accuracy. The little master was left with only a few seconds to celebrate his momentous occasion as is the case in cricket, but the historic occasion was overshadowed by the defeat against the nemesis Bangladesh. The enthusiastic bunch of cricketers from Bangladesh have spoilt the party for India on more occasions than one but it was during this tournament that they displayed consistency against the much fancied nations.
Team India was left to depend on Sri Lanka yet again if it was to reach its destination and if there is a lesson the Indians might have learnt emphatically it is that they can't depend on the Lankans! Jokes apart, the bowling looked thin without Umesh Yadav and Zaheer Khan but then of course, there is little that the bowlers could do when scores around 300 and in excess were chased down with hardly any problems.
Virat Kohli celebrated his ascendancy to the deputy's job by notching up outstanding centuries. He has passed muster in that the added responsibility has not affected him in the least bit and there are enough pointers that the young man will take Indian cricket a few notches higher in the future. The remarkable feature about Kohli's success is that he has improved as a player by leaps and bounds from his U-19 days. Kohli had his phase wherein he was a trifle overwhelmed by the frills that seek an up and coming star but he was shrewd enough to get rid of them and get back into the thick of things with a vengeance. His ability to improve is evident in the fact that he has come along nicely in curbing his emotions after getting into a few unwanted situations with the public down under. The constant endeavour to better his own self in every respect is the main attribute that separates him from the rest of his contemporaries.
With Kohli garnering all the attention, one would have felt that the little master Tendulkar would be left to savour his achievement, but curiosity seems to have got the better of some as all they want to know now is about his retirement plans. It is rather strange that everyone else other than the man himself is worried about his retirement in as much it was the case with the 100th hundred. Eventually, everyone has to pack it in some day or the other, but there is little point in pounding a long standing achiever with questions about a sensitive topic. I am sure that no one would have thought that he would end up playing as many years as he has done because two decades of international cricket can wear down a human being both mentally and physically. Since he has gone through the rigours for so long, he knows best as to how long he can prolong in international cricket. Ironically, when some are keen to know about his retirement, a few others want to know if he will play the next World Cup!
The next World Cup is a long way away and who knows, even quite a few of the younger guys from the current pool of players might not figure in it. It is uncanny that sometimes certain things take their course in a manner that belies reason. Team India had a miserable World Cup campaign in 2007 when the then coach had been planning for it for around two years.
In cricket, one cannot look too far ahead or can one write a perfect script as was proved by the fact that Tendulkar took more than a year to get one hundred. Left to him, he might have preferred to get it at Lord's or perhaps at MCG, but as is often said and written, the game will always prevail over individuals and it will be the very thing that will decide Sachin Tendulkar's retirement as well. Until such time, the best option will be to cherish the moments that Tendulkar spends out in the middle for Team India.
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