Just as scientists are yet to discover a wonder drug to retard aging, sports gurus are struggling to hit upon a formula that ensures success. If such a magical mantra existed, and was available to the India team, we would have crossed the line in Mumbai the other day.
Sporting contests, whether one-on-one or one versus eleven, are exciting because the outcome is uncertain. Even when the dice is loaded in favour of one, there is the thrilling possibility of an upset.
In the Mumbai Test, India should have won. After all, the most powerful batting line-up in Test cricket was up against a modest bowling side, and chasing a target that was not challenging. Still, the script unfolded in a different manner and what was a walk in the park at one stage, became a tight contest.
The charitable opinion is that India narrowly failed to make it. The more critical view suggests India almost lost it.
The romantics will, of course, take out positives from the match. The match was a draw but Test cricket won because the on-field action was so compelling that fans (however few) were on the edge of their seats and viewers in front of TV sets did not switch channels.
The final argument to drive home the point: Isn't it fantastic that a five-day, 30-hour, 450-over battle is left in the balance till the last moment.
The romantics are right because the Mumbai Test was uninteresting except for the sudden twist on the last day.
That cricket can surprise is illustrated in a stark manner in the IPL.
Here, teams are run on a professional basis, with technical aspects being handled by experts and commercial calls taken by managers who use the latest practices of governance.
One lesson I learnt, said a person explaining the IPL, is that in corporate structure if you take certain steps, the outcome is known. But in cricket, you may do everything right, and still have the wrong result!
The writer is the CEO of Delhi Daredevils