Friday, September 16, 2011

The side-kicked Superhero

Many a centuries ago, there dwelt a raging warrior. He massacred other vicious warlords at will and left trails of battle and destruction wherever he tread foot on. Epic clashes between him and numerous powerful titans filled countless history pages; he tormented the Wizard of ‘Aus’, fiddled with the Wizard’s ally, the Pugnacious Pigeon, marooned the Lion from Lanka and deflated two Sultans and a funny man named after a duck.
But what the world witnessed wasn’t a single maestro, in fact many- a-times, the warrior was slashed and brutally assaulted, left to brush himself off the dust. In those moments, up stepped another vigilante, known for his patient assassinations and silent assaults that left opponents often bored but surprisingly star-struck. When the former swashbuckling hero fell rather prematurely on several occasions, it was this old-school tutored “side-kick” who stood up from the rubble and made the battle his own. He dealt every hammer, every spell and spin until all his enemies’ arsenals were all but over. He then disposed them off with precise accuracy, brutal in his own copyrighted manner. His blade dripping of victorious blood, gleamed in the faint moonlight, sufficient only to catch a glimpse of his silhouetted figure. 

His country held him proud and embracing him with draping, joyous colours. They built the kingdom’s outer defence walls in his name, building them higher than any man-made structure, impenetrable from the outside and one that could withhold any attack. For often when God or the Prince failed, it was the Wall that stood firm. Till this day, its foundation stood so strong that when God was omnipresent yet undiscoverable and The Prince’s reign ended, it was the Wall to whom the Elders turned to, with the kingdom facing its greatest crisis. Its armies were battered and bruised, but the magnificent Wall was not to be etched. Three fine Norman commanders with one ruthless migrated Saxon as general, were left scratching their heads as boulder upon boulder were made to look like mere pebbles in front of it. So great was its defense that even the enemy commended it and bowed in respect.

After 15 magnificent summers, Rahul Dravid bids adieu to coloured clothing and uncoloured leather balls for the final time in the country where it was began for him. Having fallen for 26 runs short of his first score in international cricket and a further 31 from what would have been a fairy-tale end to a wonderful career; Dravid wasn’t greeted with fireworks or loud drums much in the manner of a certain Mumbaikar or even the flashy Ganguly. Instead, perhaps fittingly, he was sent off with warm applauses and chirpy smiles as press cameras clicked away on his trot back to the pavilion. Known as one of the calmest minds on the field, the Welsh setting sun provided its final beams of warmth before the inevitable chill of a British winter. Sofia Gardens looked like a great haven for one of the game’s greatest and undoubtedly India’s greatest children. He went as he arrived in England; a century stand and missing out on what would have been a well-deserved hundred, while his partner went on to complete his personal century.

Rahul Dravid’s aura is that of a true gentleman; well-dressed, smart orator and handsome in stature and looks. Yet so humble in person, that one would hardly believe that his family received over a thousand proposals for marriage and countless days of a mail-box stuffed with love-letters to “Jammy”.  But his one and true hunger remained for excellence, which he attained on every stage possible.

 Till date, he remains the first and only batsman to score a century against all Test-playing nations away from home; a feat that has eluded the likes of the Tendulkars, Bradmans and Gavaskars. He might be tame and harmless looking, but it didn’t take long for his bat to turn into a whip, which in turn, tamed many ferocious bowlers. He will always be remember for the sore looks he gave on Shoib Akhtar’s face (where Akhtar having sprint a 100 yards and bowled a blazing delivery to have clocked 95 miles an hour, Dravid just defended it with a straight bat and the ball wouldn’t travel more than a metre from him!), frustrating him ball after ball. 

Yes The Wall did quiver once or twice but that was an occasional blot in a great one-day career. He didn’t have to prove the world he could bat; he had done that in the summer of ’99. As the coloured curtains fall one last time, we hope and pray that Rahul’s legacy continues in the game’s actually format for as long as it can. 

PS. I wonder why Sehwag does commercials relating to walls and cements, when the actual glue of every Indian wall continues to bat at number 3. 

Rahul Dravid: The "Side-kicked" Superhero

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