There is something about India's narrow defeat in Thursday's fifth ODI. Not many seem to feel too bad about it although they should. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the first one to admit that poor fielding which included a few dropped catches was a reason apart from some rush of blood while batting.
Everyone else seemed to be completely swept away by Sachin Tendulkar's valiant effort, halted agonisingly short of attaining immortality.
<b1>Even the usually curt and stern Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) manning the vital points at airports across the country seemed preoccupied with the so-near-yet-so-far drama enacted in Hyderabad.
“It was there for the taking, wasn't it?” asked a man in uniform at the airport in Kolkata, which saw quite a few scribes on their way to Guwahati on Friday afternoon.
“Was it that close, you seriously mean it had come down to 19 from 18 balls?” wondered one, eyes wide open. Couldn't blame him.
The enormity of Tendulkar's superhuman effort was bound to take everyone by awe and Ricky Ponting himself was no exception. “How much did he get, well, 175 off 141? Phew, how many times did you see that happen in one-day games?
“Definitely one of the most amazing innings I've seen in one-day cricket,” the Australia skipper wasn't exaggerating, for
sure. It was reminiscent of the knocks he had played against us in Sharjah (in 1998). You expect someone to get into the shell when they lose a few wickets. But he kept getting stronger, hitting through the line, with almost everything coming out of the middle of the bat. What can you say of that?”
Nothing really, would have been the most appropriate answer to that Ponting poser because that innings was full of absurdities, considering the kind of runs Tendulkar was chasing with very little by way of contribution from the other end.
That he still dared to accept the challenge and almost get what seemed impossible speaks volumes of the enormity of the effort.
Yes he couldn't, finally, quite like the Chennai Test against Pakistan in 1999. Like then, he was let down by atrocities at the other end.
Dhoni acknowledged this saying that his batsmen got carried away by an overdrive of “emotion”. Will that console the country and its legions of cricket fans? Not quite. What's wrong in learning from the master then? Generation Next doesn't appear to have the answer yet.