हमारे खेलों की सच्ची सुंदरता इसके रहस्यों में है
The True Beauty of our Sports Lies in its Mysteries
As humans, we want David to beat Goliath. It took India almost their entire cricket history, till they finally beat Australia at their home, in 2018. But then the men in Baggy Green were without Smith and Warner. This time the Aussies brought all their arsenal. They pummelled, punched, bowled out India for a shocking 36 in Adelaide. How do you recover mentally, physically, psychologically from that? Oh and your captain is unavailable for the remainder of the series.
And that is why this series is probably so much more special for India than any before.
There is a man who in the Melbourne game was racially abused by a small section of the crowd - Mohammed Siraj. Four years back when he was selected for the IPL, he had only one dream - to never let his father drive an auto again. Last month, while he was still waiting to play is first test in Australia, his father died. Siraj could not go back for the funeral. For the last few months, Siraj has been holding his father's illness, the abuse, the heckling, the insecurities regarding a youngster's selection all together. Yesterday he burst and picked five wickets in the second innings setting up the game for India. When he kissed the ground and the tears flowed, we should have known we were up for something special.
There is a man who has been criticized, heckled, trolled, made fun of in social media, by experts, almost everyone for almost one and a half years now. He scored a brilliant 97 in Melbourne and almost got India to victory. But 'almost' is not remembered in history. Today, he scored an unbeaten 89 and took India to arguably one of their greatest wins. Rishabh Pant.
There is a man who has been hit on the body a thousand times throughout the series, and when he goes into the shower tonight, there will be bruises, cuts and lumps on his arms, chest, thighs and more. He might not be celebrated half as much as Kohli, Sharma, or even Gill or Pant, but when he does hang up his boots eventually, his contribution to Indian cricket would be right at the top. Cheteshwar Pujara.
There is a boy who is just 21 years old and probably doesn't realize that it's not okay to hit 91 in the fourth innings in Gabba against the likes of Cummins, Hazelwood and Starc. Sacrilege, Shubhman Gill, sacrilege. Why does youth know no fear. Why is youth so expressive, so uninhibited.
There is a man who has captained India in the absence of Kohli, showed none of the verbal aggression that the latter does, but is every bit as passionate. He appears calm, but fought his way through a hundred demons, detractors, set up the win in Sydney and marshalled whatever players were left, superbly. Rahane.
There are two men playing their first test matches and scoring half centuries in the lower half of the Indian batting order and then picking up wickets, as if they were playing school matches, not test cricket. Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur. Who wrote your script, boys.
It is not just that India won. India did not have 11 of their main players and yet the team fought, soldiered, counter punched, resisted, took blows, and never gave up. India did not win the series because of beautiful strokes. India won it because of an incredible amount of bloody mindedness in their heads and pluck in their hearts.
What Washington, Shardul, Gill, Natarajan have done is give hope to thousands of boys in India today that some day even they can play for India. Some years back, an eleven year old boy came to Mumbai, lived in a small tent on the roadside, sold tea to survive and played cricket in the gullies. Yesterday he smoked Sreesanth for two sixes right after the bowler bowled a bouncer and gave him a death stare. His name? Yashasvi Jaiswal. He is now 19 years old, was India Under 19s best batsman in the world cup and signed a 2 crore deal with Rajsthan Royals in the IPL. What Siraj, Yashasvi have done is is give hope to thousands of poor kids that it is possible to dream.
What India did today is far more than just a game. It's what sports is all about - fighting, being fair, dreaming, surviving, and inspiring. In true Bollywood style, it took the entire two months, the last session of the last day of the last test match, to deliver a verdict. And even then for most parts of the day, we were never really sure whether India would lose, win or draw the game. All this in a stadium where Australia hasn't lost for 32 years.
At the end of the day, I was frantic, nervous, tense, till Pant hit that winning four. Watching him carry the Indian flag around the ground, watching Rahane ruffle his hair and laugh, is what sports is all about no?
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