The first international match I watched live at the grounds was during the WC '96, when India played Sri Lanka in Delhi. I was lucky enough to be a ball boy in the game and unlucky enough to see Indians lose against a blinder of a counter-attack by Sri Lankans. It did hurt me, though just a little, for I had already witnessed a majestic 137 from Sach's blade. Its one thing to see the batsman murdering the opposition on the television, but radically different when you see it happening in strict real time from the boundary lines. I still can't forget his flick shot off Murali which just made the ball disappear somewhere over the deep mid-wicket fence. That experience of watching the master play barely a few 60 yards away (yeah, Kotla's pretty small) was quite unbelievable. Perhaps thats the reason he gets a standing ovation at whatever ground he plays on, and its all the more awe inspiring to see that happening when India is having an away game. Its the sheer joy and pleasure of watching this guy bat and play the way he does, for it so often results in a 'Whoa, beautiful" in unison from folks around you.
Adelaide was a belter of a pitch, the moment I saw the first ball, I knew that winning the toss and batting first on this beauty of a track was an absolute bonus. I know that teams in the past have posted huge totals batting first and yet faltered in their second stint. Last year's Ashes pays a testimony to that. But then, that was England, isn't it? ;) Collingwood did hit an incredible double ton, but the question pops up again - would you pay to watch a Sach ton or a Collingwood double? No offence to C'wood, but I'm sure the percentages would be tilted for the former and the great Sir Don Bradman would have been one of them. That's what he brings to the game - unbiased people who just want to watch him bat, even though it might mean getting runs scored against their own team.
Yeah, the fact that his average of low 16s against the Aussies in the second innings is quite ordinary and that he should have indeed batted the Aussies out of the game at Perth and even perhaps saved the one at the SCG. Underachieved.. well, I have to agree on that. That's the perhaps the only blemish on an otherwise quite a 'wow' career and which might make the difference in him being called Sir Sachin in the future after all. But that doesn't matter at times like these, when you see a chap who's played and survived 18 years of international cricket, still come down the track and absolutely hammer that one on top of the sight screen. I hope this is not his last hurrah down under. Its quite unrealistic and perhaps unjustified to ask this man to perform time and again and how often does he come out with flying colors. Biased or foolish or absurd, whatever, but I just don't want to see the master hanging his boots.. not now.. not this year.. perhaps never..
There are not many things that give me goosebumps. The national anthem with the flying tricolor would be one. Guessing the other is a little difficult - the choices being his trademark on drive.. or the tiptoed punch of the backfoot through cover point.. I guess I need more time to decide on that.