Cricket, like life, is beautiful for its fleeting moments of joy and, perhaps, even sorrow. For all its beauty, an exquisite cover drive is over the moment the ball crosses the boundary rope. It’s almost like the end note of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. And that gives this beautiful game an almost fatalistic nature, the inevitability of an end that comes all too soon.
And that’s what makes the achievements of MS Dhoni and his boys in the World Cup so special, despite the loss to Australia in the semifinal.
When Team India started the tournament, nobody – not even the most die-hard fan – had held too high hopes from them. Badly bruised in the Test series against Australia and battered beyond recognition in the subsequent triangular one-day tournament, Dhoni and his boys appeared to have reached the end of the road. It was time to fear for the worst.
But cricket, like life, is also capable of throwing up pleasant surprises and making men out of boys. Like an injured swan nursed back to life, the Men in Blue took flight gracefully, soaring to the skies and almost touching the clouds.
And what joy they gave us all along the way.
From thumping Pakistan and South Africa to their stroll-in-the-park victories over the lesser teams, till beating Bangladesh in the quarter-finals, cricket gave us the reason to live.
India’s bowling, said to be their weakest link, became their most potent weapon. What they lacked in brutal pace, the bowlers made up with never-before-seen discipline in line and length and the hunger to succeed.
A cut here, a nick there and soon opposition after opposition were left bleeding to death as the mild-mannered Indian pace bowlers turned into gladiators in a Roman colosseum.
We gasped in amazement when our fielders dived, jumped and performed the most acrobatic moves around the field, reminding the better teams in the tournament not to take India for granted. We never had so much fun watching fielding by our boys.
And, of course, the batsmen joined the party every time the team took to the field. None hit the fastest century or a double ton. They simply got the job done. And that was good enough for us.
But cricket, like life, puts everything in perspective. The party had to end sometime. And it did today.
Not even a certain Don Bradman – considered the greatest batsman of all times -- could score just four runs in his last Test, which would have given him God-like average of 100.
That is the moot point.
Cricket, like life, reminds us that in the bigger scheme of things in the universe, it is ultimately just a game, played by mere mortals.
And we have no complaints, boys. It was so much fun while it lasted.
(Views expressed by the writer are personal)