Whitewash on the wall
They came to the shores of Australia looking to win their first series Down Under. They were billed as the best Indian team, but they will end the tour as possibly the worst. Even Lala Amarnath's team, the first to tour here, didn't suffer a clean sweep. Rohit Bhaskar reports. ‘Sack Dhoni, Laxman, Dravid’ | Long and short of it | HT Poll: More than one third want Sachin outindia Updated: Jan 28, 2012 08:16 IST
They came to the shores of Australia over a month-and-half ago looking to win their first series Down Under. They were billed as the best Indian team to ever tour Australia.
But they will end the tour as possibly the worst. Even Lala Amarnath's team, the first to tour here, didn't suffer a clean sweep. They at least managed one draw, aided by rain as it were.However, for this team even a draw has proved to be too big an ask, rain or no rain.
For a brief period in their pursuit of a 500-run target, one so huge no team in the history of Test cricket has achieved it, it looked as though the ageing heroes would go out with a bang. In reality, it turned to be a whimper.
At 80/1 at the start of the 20th over of the innings, the romantics, the dreamers, were revelling in the intoxicating air of false hope. Sehwag had blazed away to 62 off 52 balls with 12 coruscating boundaries.
Rahul Dravid was battling, and when he soldiers on the wars are usually won, or at least they used to be.
It all changed in an instant. The ball that changed it was hardly one that you would deem fit to signal the end of the battle, much less the end of an era.
But in its own way it showed that it wasn't the ball or the bowlers who were winning it, it was the batsmen who were losing it. Or maybe they had already lost it.
A full toss - that's what changed the tide. Sehwag perished to a delivery he would have disdainfully hit for six in his sleep, even in his nightmares. But this tour has been much worse than your average nightmare.
No one was surprised when Rahul Dravid perished soon afterwards. No one batted an eyelid when Sachin Tendulkar fell not much later.
No one flinched an inch when VVS Laxman was out. None, except the players themselves. Each of the legends trudged off the pitch back to the pavilion, a slow walk reminiscent of that to the gallows.
They waited, like a man on death row awaiting a response to that final mercy plea, which was also rejected.
The umpire checked on the giant screen for a no-ball. The replay proved what everyone feared - the foot was behind the line, in some cases much behind the line.
The fans gave them a standing ovation, they deserve no less. For years, they wowed them, bedazzled them, and left them awestruck. It was a show of gratitude for the great innings of days gone by.
The match is not over, not yet. But something far greater has ended. It's the death of a dream, the end of an era.
Rest in peace.