Google “Fab Four” and you’re directed to the most popular musical group in history — The Beatles. But if you’re talking cricket, there will always be only one Fab Four.
At no point in history, forget Indian cricket, did four batsmen of such talent play together in the middle order. You can throw in Sir Don Bradman’s Invincibles, Clive Lloyd’s West Indies and Steve Waugh’s Australians to that list.
In 80 Tests collectively, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman amassed 22,797 runs. India have produced batsmen with extraordinary talent before – Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath and Mohammad Azharuddin – but not so many in the same era.
The band that first got together in 1996 disbanded in 2008 with Ganguly’s exit. When Tendulkar leaves on November 18, it will be the end of an era. An injured Ganguly missed Laxman’s debut Test at Ahmedabad, and therefore the Fab Four first got together at Eden Gardens on November 27. Seventeen years later, a new Fab Four is taking shape and uniting at the same venue.
Dhawan for Ganguly
Hypothetically, let us say left-hander for left-hander, Shikhar Dhawan replaces Ganguly, Cheteshwar Pujara is the natural successor to Dravid, Virat Kohli is the new Master and Rohit the new VVS.
Shikhar has the swagger of Ganguly, was an angry young man too before growing up. Pujara was advertised as Dravid’s heir even before playing for India. Only Virat has Tendulkar’s hunger. Rohit is a class apart and so was Laxman.
Unless Ajinkya Rahane or Murali Vijay beg to differ, the new Fab Four is already set in stone.
The just-concluded Kolkata Test marks the start of their time. While Shikhar, Pujara and Virat were primed for a long rope, Rohit was the missing link.
The new Fab Four need a platform to justify this hype, and the Test matches at home against West Indies are not going to cut it. India are playing 13 Tests overseas in the next 15 months – two each in South Africa and New Zealand, five in England and four in Australia.
If the quartet survives this phase without hiccups, they could well be on their way.
Many years later, one could reflect on Kolkata as the turning point in Indian cricket, that is if you’re a lover of batsmanship.