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The Glory Road

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The path to enlightenment, they say goes through many a rocky terrain often even dwindling from its own course in order to seek the final solution being that great state of “silence”. It is said to be the state where no thought is known to be ever lasting, in fact as if the brevity of life is realized and sealed into a moment too glorious to ever let go of, the mind dismisses the flawed distinctions between that which is hailed as great and that which is well presumably not that great after all. It is a state wherein the largeness of effort does not even matter, let alone the realization of the effort being put in. But this often too thorny, tedious and seemingly difficult path does have a glory road one that when walked upon, leaves the true walkers, practitioners and followers of any art or form take in their stride whatever follows. Then what becomes of successes or failures is immaterial.

Not sure if the current pantheon of talent in the Indian cricket team is collectively actually walking on their course toward enlightenment, but what seems certain is that collective efforts are being put in by a bunch of talented individuals in a manner in which the actual outcome will not define the scope of their efforts. Then be it a marginal success or even colossal failure, as long as efforts are being thrown in, whatever happens shall be accepted yet not stopping the continuity of true effort. This glory road is an uncanny one. It does not reveal to the flock of people watching the walkers on it as to what actually became of them in the end, but promises an engaging and intriguing contest each time a true practitioner either combats the self to further elevate his status or overcomes the so called demons from the opposite end to put a full stop to the tyranny. Earlier in those days, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers and a certain Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards emerged as the legendary knights who walked on it. And simultaneously, Sir Sunil Manohar Gavaskar emerged as a true legionnaire setting the glory road’s path bright with some truly illustrious achievements. From there on, varied practitioners of revered forms of cricketing action took over and laid every single brick on the road with seamless quality and unimaginable variety, with true dedication being the hallmark. While the Waughs led from the front, the Warnes spun magic across the willow and straight into the record books. The Laras lifted the spirit of the game like that legendary backlift and the Walls created a ruckus for the opposition every time it ran into it.

Cricket single handedly has been a huge benefactor ultimately by virtue of it being a great leveler of sorts. It has been uniting not just the isolated Islands of the Caribbean since forever but been making the invisible line of difference of two rival nations of India and Pakistan grow thinner each time intensity from rival camps joins hands to produce a memorable game. Apart from this, cricket’s glory road was also perched upon by a set of different and unique rivalries that sets the house on fire, where despite the absence of any communal hatred, each time an Englishman rose in the ground or every occasion where an Australian was lauded for a gigantic performance, cricket soared further and the road was further lit with glories. Off late, in its individual capacity, this often warm and understated part of Asia has had more emerging maestros hailing from India than before and ever since a new style of leadership has emerged in this region under an able and sincere Mahendra Singh Dhoni, largely acknowledged as cricket’s new captain cool and an Iceman of sorts, one thing has occurred constantly. It is the team challenging India that has had to bear the brunt of the contest on occasions more than one. Yes, there have been some serious thorns in our captain’s path to seek greatness in the form of constant rebuttals by Aussies and the English with India in pursuit of new peaks but undergoing the pain and the unhinging process of endurance of a difficulty has assured that this is not a man who is just a casual walker on the glory road. He will lead and will shine even when he is least expected to, the recently concluded Test match against an Australia desperate for a win is just one of the prized instances. In fact, as equally as he leads the charge from the front to continue the scourge for greatness and great efforts, he is followed ever so passionately by dedicated country men who attack from the word go. His is an army of tolerant and equally stoic men, who beautifully vary their modes of attack often swiftly changing gears according to the demand of the game. Here the colour 'white' of the cricket costume doesn’t always connote peace for the opposition, and the revered 'blue' becomes a determined one to take the blues out of the opposition in no time at all.

Even in last year’s average outing at the T20 World Cup, team India knowing that it couldn’t go any further after the game versus South Africa ensured that the Proteas were shown the doors just as well as their own selves. They never let the game slip out of their hands till the last decisive ball was bowled. They had visited a resistant English side in 2011 in a not so intriguing contest in those long and tense one-sided encounters. Team India was literally routed in almost every one-dayer. But they were smart and diligent enough to return the compliment, at least in the one dayers this year when the English came to tame them at their own backyard travelling miles to compete. Alas, Captain Cool ensured his bat was truly in great reckoning that series with some down the order brilliance coming in at the right time. The all round show by a new find Jadeja and a truly enterprising Suresh Raina, who a rival would assume to be just another talented southpaw only at his own peril were just as mesmerizing. Ashwin struck on a few occasions but largely reminiscent of a struggle for great form that he had endured earlier in the Tests but never disappointed. It was the most unheard name ever in the context of the contest that shone brightly and gathered a roof top of a success. The bright light was that of Bhuvneshwar Kumar that had rattled some really confused English stumps.

But this wasn’t it, Dhoni’s rallying men found amongst them two modern day reflections of great strokemakers, both of whom seem to be walking firm on the glory road with a certain curiosity to discover what lies ahead of them. When one talks of a Virat Kohli, then a fine balance of excellent stroke play along with supreme confidence quickly knocks on the doors of the mind. Then, comparisons with the great Viv Richards’ batting prowess are just an added bonus and don’t hurt much. In the last one and half years especially, he has single handedly been responsible in ensuring that the brightly burning sun continues to shine for Team India as they surge ahead of their rivals. Next in prime focus is a gentleman who seems to be batting with a certain level headedness and maturity unknown to exist for ‘kids’ his age. Cheteshwar Pujara’s ascent from the backwaters of Ranji Trophy triumphs to the ultimate rise in a resurgent and spirited Team India have only aspired for newer and deserving compliments. It would be incorrect to think that the glory road is without its share of critics, but in the new number 3 batsman’s case the entire notion of having critics and their self created theories that the youngster takes much time before he is ready to fill in for legendary boots, finds its place of resting in the trash can and not behind cricketing mikes used for commentary or so it seems. You can’t have quick back to back double hundreds within the space of just a couple of Test matches without being talented and determined enough to naturally exhibit a love for long innings. As if the army was full with its collective pool or rich talent, further trouble has emerged for any existing side thinking of challenging India. The return of old warhorse Yuvraj Singh has reinstated that thunder might strike at any time and at any odd hour. He firmly lifted the bat on having scored a 70 odd versus the English in his return Test series and further enveloped his record tally of hitting sixes in the shorter format by creaming some memorable ones in the one-dayers that followed. It remains to be seen whether he can recreate the similar magic from the ball like he did in the 2011 World Cup but from what he has shown upon return, taking him lightly wouldn’t exactly be a great idea. All this and more can still be expected from the team every now and again.

If the road has sought some true masters in all these years, then with one eminent veteran of the game, the road’s glorious existence finds its reason to exist and be elongated a truly epic one. Guess what, just as you thought generations had passed and times had changed seasons as if to do away with soulless feathers, Sachin Ramesh Tendulakar is still scoring at a pretty rate in Test matches for Team India. His sole presence is reason enough for the entire side to keep their determined feet together to walk as long and cover as many a mile as they together can fathom. His mark on the road to glory and glorious heights can simply be recollected by the sheer number of milestones he has left behind, often nerved only by the childlike anxiety. The ability to strike gold every now and again at intervals least expected and forms unseen before, make Dhoni a true champion, and the game his great muse. What seems apt for now is to remain seated on the couch unmoved and unfazed by what is happening there on the cricketing ground. It is best to witness happily the walkers on the great glory road as they go on discovering more miles. For as long as they seek their enlightenment, there shall be an entertaining show.



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