It has been more than three years now but an eyewitness swears that it was the most emotional bear hug in sporting history. Kapil Dev and Wasim Akram embraced one another in a room in a Chennai hotel. Tears welled up in Akram’s eyes as his wife, Huma, had been admitted in a critical condition in a city hospital after the air ambulance flying them to Singapore had to make an emergency landing since her condition had worsened.
As the former all-rounders spoke emotionally, in chaste Punjabi, the onlookers were convinced they were watching a human drama without borders. They were two Punjabis, divided only by a barbed border, opening their hearts out. Indeed, the larger picture of our sport and sportspersons living in a paradoxical coexistence of brotherhood and rivalry was captured in that one tender moment.
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A facsimile of the article as it appeared in DNA, Mumbai
Simply destructive. Try hard as you might sum up Virender Sehwag’s international cricket career in any other manner, this phrase keep springing back. The two words that make up the phrase are the most suitable to describe his approach to batsmanship, striking a strange combination of fear and hope at the same time in the hearts of the opposition. Of course, the free spirit that he brought to the crease came along with a proneness to self-destruction.
He has been one of Indian cricket’s supreme entertainers for years now, not letting either time or location change his mindset. I am among those who believe that Sehwag has not yet gone past his sell-by date in limited-over cricket. Yet, given that the selectors may be looking ahead at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and at building a side that can compete, it is possible that he may not play too many more one-day internationals.
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A facsimile of the article as it appeared in DNA on December 24, 2012
Sachin Tendulkar’s place in the galaxy of cricketers – and I must stress that it is not just the limited-over galaxy that we are talking about here – is above everyone else. Let me quickly recall a few of my own favourites. There were the left-handed Sanath Jayasuriya and Adam Gilchrist who used their bats like a sledge-hammer; There was a Brian Lara used the willow as a scimitar; There was the workmanlike Michael Bevan who set a high standard as a finisher. There have been other like Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis – the best all-rounder to have ever graced the limited-over game – who have played many stunning innings. And, of course, there was the nonchalantly explosive Viv Richards.
Yet, there has been only one man who has always walked in with the burden of expectation of a whole nation on his shoulders. No one batsman has caused as many television and radio sets to be switched off when he has been dismissed in one-day internationals as Tendulkar has. No one cricketer – not even Richards or Kallis, I dare say – has had such an effect on an entire population as the proud Indian has. Definitely not for as long as he has. Read more »