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 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 »
Cast your emotion aside as we sit down to take stock of the challenge that India’s tennis selectors will face in the next few days. They will have to decide on the men’s doubles team that will represent India at the Olympic Games in London. And they have three wonderful achievers in Leander Paes, Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi to choose from.
With only Leander Paes finding a place in the top 10 of the ATP doubles rankings now, dreams of two Indian pairs figuring in the draw have receded. But each of the three possible pairings is medal material and has the potential to be excitingly competent while delivering India that the Olympic men’s doubles medal that eluded Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in four starts.
We must remember that the draw will play a big role in how long our London dreams last. Back in 2008, the Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi came up against an inspired Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer, who raised his game after a devastating quarterfinal exit in singles. Hopefully, whichever pair gets picked will have the motivation to do well and will have a great run, irrespective of who it faces on the way.
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