Legend has it that a warrior will rise from the ashes to take the world by storm. For India, he rose two decades ago. And yet Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar failed to conquer the final bastion of world cricket in what possibly, could well have been his final assault.
Such is irony that for the man who has seen it all and done more, the Mecca of cricket remained a territory uncluttered with the remains of vanquished bowlers. And while as much as we may want him to return to play a Test here, even the greatest have limits that puncture dreams of a billion.
The sport itself is not about just one man and neither is this blog about an action-thriller play-station game re-worded to suit the his realms. So to the point then. India was beaten by a side that played better. We all know that now. But it is not an indication of imperialism returning, this time to cricket. The margin of defeat may have been big, or perhaps huge, or mammoth, or let's just go with 196, there are hidden positives from the match that gleam through the muddle of the final outcome.
Rahul Dravid to begin with. An unbeaten 103 for all who witnessed him build it, showed solid character. The English bowlers were good but, in the 1st innings, at least, Dravid was better. He negotiated 344 minutes in his and 220 attempts on his 1st innings and yet, blunted the attack with no apparent force.
While we are on force (or the lack of it), the Indian bowling looked ominous as well. Two men, who answer to the name of Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior, may have taken the sheen off their efforts but the young pacers in Praveen and Ishant did strike terror in the English camp, albeit in small doses. That they did so in the absence of the 'well-played' Zaheer means that they are likely to learn and return with vengeance.
Then there was a 21-year-old who opened the innings for his side in front of a packed stadium. Abhinav Mukund was gutsy and tentative (yes, both together) in his 1st innings of 49. When he did find the right delivery to smash, he did so with relishing intent. Too early still to hail or snub him, but this Tamil Nadu lad can bat for sure.
In effect, a veteran batsman, two determined pacers and a skilled newbie makes for four in a team of eleven. Yes the ratio is against the side( unless of course, we begin counting Raina's 78 and Laxman's half-century and Yuvraj's calligraphy while signing autographs on the sidelines) but there is yet hope for these to better their performance and the others to catch up. It is a long tour at the end of the day (and Lagaan will just take three hours time, if screened to inspire.) Shine on, again!