The human mindset is a strange thing.
Once he got out, defeat was inevitable. Every single person around me knew it, but yet were were hoping against all odds. For any other team, these would have been great odds. But no, not for India, not under such circumstances. We’ve been there before.
Remember that unforgettable Chennai test against Pakistan in 1999? With a target of 271 to chase, the tremendous bowling attack of Wasim, Waqar and Saqlain reduced India to 81/5, with Sachin still at the crease. Along with Mongia, Sachin took upon the ardous task of rebuilding a city, run by run.
With each lift of his bat, and run taken under the sweltering and scorching Chennai heat, the man drained out and cramped just a bit more. But the abilities of a genius is a pretty unscientific thing. It enables him or her to do what ordinary mortals cannot do, or cannot push for. As every single sinew in his body gave away, the mind and heart of Sachin grew that much stronger. He was not just fighting against the prodigous bowling attack. He was fighting the elements. He was waging a battle against a pitch that was so venomous that you’d rather spend a night out with a poisonous rattle snake. But most of all, he was fighting a mindset of millions. A mindset that made them believe that he, Sachin Tendulkar, was good enough to make a match of things, but not win it all by himself.
Sachin took India from that precarious position to the very doorstep of victory – scoring 136 memorable, awe-inspiring runs. But just as that door was about to open, the human in him finally made an appearance. All that it needed was just 2 cool heads to score 17 simple runs and win it for India. None were found.
We saw it happen yesterday. At a time where brashness supposedly trumps elegance, aggression of words seem to be preferred over an unfinching spirit, Tendulkar decided to turn back the clock for yet another moment of bittersweet nostalgia.
A flurry of wickets yet again left India devastated , and 350 looked like a himalayan task. Once more, Sachin set about trying to do the impossible. He collected and created 175 precious runs, half the runs which India would need. He stood there yet again admist the ruins, rising like the phoenix from the ashes, falling just before the final barrier. This, after 20 strenous years of top class cricket, and 630720000 seconds (and counting) of continuous and constant scrutiny, expectations, victories and disappointments.
During the post-game interview, a lesser being who might have had 20 years of spotlight would have have experience perhaps a little bit of anger, maybe a lot of fear, or even a dose of desperation. But Sachin is what Sachin does. Highlighted the importance of team and not one, crediting Raina for a good partnership, and slightly lamenting the lack of partnerships at the end. Nothing more, nothing less.
And yet the millions of mindsets might question it all, expecting him to score the final 17 or 20 runs, but not expect the remaining players to collectively even get those. Some of us might choose to question why he did not help India cross that final hurdle, but yet not ask why some of the other players chose not even to run the race. We’d ponder over what Sachin did not do for us, but yet not give a fleeting thought to what others have.
The human mindset is indeed a strange thing.