I figured I would wait a couple days before posting my thoughts on a fairly momentous occasion – mainly to allow time for a balanced perspective to form. To me it was a moment that brought home the point that sometimes the journey is more important the destination.
There have been comparisons to another great series – the 2005 Ashes. While comparisons are odious at times this one has its merits. The drama, the gamesmanship and the level of interest it generated as well as the emotions it aroused are arguably at comparable levels. Beyond that I would think people would be better served enjoying the lasting memories both series have provided and leave it at that.
The setting for the fourth test match could not have been more picturesque. The state of Himachal Pradesh is inextricably linked to my growth as an individual. By extension Dharamshala felt like a familiar place you visited when you were young but whose memories now have begun to fade.
My feeling at the start of the match was that it would take a horde of elephants to stop Kohli playing this match – whatever the injury. He showed that he was more pragmatic – preferring to sit out when his shoulder had not healed completely. At lunch on the first day I went to bed thinking Kohli would be regretting his decision. The mandatory wake up call did happen and this time it didn’t seem so bad. Australia close to being all out – made for a peaceful last hour of sleep.
Pujara and Rahul started down the familiar path it and I went to bed looking forward to better news early in the morning. 6 wickets down with more than 50 runs behind wasn’t my idea of a pleasant dream but it probably completely a nightmare.
The next day brought forth the full gamut of positive emotions that you would associate with passionate and partisan fans. I gave myself a few minutes before retiring to bed. Jadeja made sure those few minutes turned into an hour. It was cricket at its most intense. Quality pace bowling against batsmen who displayed pluck and panache in equal measure. The sword flourish at the half century mark made you wonder if there would be a similar celebration for a ton. That turned out to be a story for another day.
It was the best wake up call ever. Resisting the temptation to kiss the phone screen – I refreshed just to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. This time I could feel every word on the scorecard morph itself into a celebratory fireworks display. Be still my beating heart – there is still a small matter of 80 runs still needed.
Rahane and Rahul made sure the end was swift. Rahane’s sixes off Cummins were like the icing on the cake – a reminder that IPL was round the corner. With a controlled roar and a rare triumphant smile I retired to bed for the first full night of sleep in a while.
The war of words between the rival teams and media seemed to continue for a couple days. Visuals of Smith reacting to a catch that was overturned on replay wasn’t one of his proudest moment. The cynic in me couldn’t help but remember the catch that Michael Clarke claimed against Ganguly in Sydney in 2008.
At the end of a major series or tournaments there is a sense of emptiness and if a series was as compelling as this one that sense persists for a long time. Next stop IPL.