They came, they saw, they got conquered… and hammered, and pulverised, and pummelled, and knocked out. This wasn't a boxing ring, but even Sonny Liston didn't have it this bad against Muhammad Ali.
It's a good thing that neither Sunil Gavaskar nor Allan Border was here. How can a trophy bearing the name of two of cricket's great fighters produce a contest so lopsided? One team fought hard, the other? Forget about fighting, they, it seemed, had forgotten to even bring their metaphorical boxing gloves along. Not that you can't fight with cricket gloves, both Gavaskar and Border's cricketing gloves had more fight in them than the boxing gloves of most prizefighters. Even they must've shaken their head in disbelief at India's gutless capitulations, which became as regular a feature of this series as the oceans of beer flowing in the stands.
Mental scarsSaturday was the final deathblow, many in India's team might never recover from this; some might not be given a chance. The scars, unlike the ones sustained in a boxing ring, aren't of the visible, physical kind. These scars are etched in the mind --- not just of the players, but also in the minds of the fans. After the match, Virender Sehwag pleaded with the fans to stand by the beleaguered team. "They (the fans) should be upset with our performances, and I agree with them. But this is the time, the fans should back the team, back the players. When we won the World Cup everybody was happy, and everybody was cheering for India. Now is the time we need the support from fans and everybody. They should back their own team."
Turn the clock back 12 months. It was in this vast land that the fans jeered Michael Clarke as Australia slid towards a humiliating Ashes defeat. Seems hard to believe now, doesn't it? The golden boy, who as captain has turned the tide, aided by the Argus review, can now do no wrong. Before the series Clarke had said, the most important thing for him this summer was to earn respect. Earn, is the keyword here. Sehwag and India now sit on the same fence. They can ask the fans to stand by them, or they can earn their respect back, as Clarke & Co did.
"Days like today, when you have success and you win and you put in such a lot of hard work, we sit in the change room this afternoon and look around at each other and say all the hard work we have put in, it's worth it. But we went through the same pain that India is feeling right now 12 months ago, we lost the Ashes. It's really nice to be on the other side of the fence today," said Clarke
A wise man (also Harvey Dent in The Dark Night) once said, "The night is darkest just before dawn." This is as dark as it can get for Indian cricket. Eight straight drubbings away from home and being whitewashed in back-to-back away series, is as dark as it gets. There's pitch black, and then there's this. If this doesn't signal the dawn of a new era for the powers that be (read BCCI), nothing will!