Ganguly announces his retirement. A really nice post evoked nostalgic memories.
Memories of the one night in July 2002 in Dehradun when a young 14 year old sat glued to his television set cheering his team in the final. After a disappointing bowling performance, he is a bit subdued as his team is left chasing a mammoth score. However, the eternal optimist in him doesn't die and his faith in the batting line up of his team has not wavered. He lives with his Grandparents and mother and the norm is to sleep early. They tell him to go to sleep. It's dark outside and he has school tomorrow. But how can he miss India's batting. After all, it's the FINAL. It doesn't matter to him that the chase is humongous. It doesn't matter if the team has a reputation for being bad chasers. It doesn't matter if the match is happening in the Mecca of cricket, in a foreign land - a fact that already puts India at a disadvantage considering it's poor track record abroad. It doesn't matter if the team is also renowned for 'choking' in the finals. There is still hope.
It must have been with more than just hope that the Captain of the Indian Team, Sourav Ganguly, addressed his team. It must have been Belief. Belief that refused to take into consideration that the odds were against his team. Belief that they could chase down the target and light up the faces of millions of 14 year olds who were stuck to their television - hoping. I don't know what he said to his team that day but it seems that a couple of youngsters shared his belief.
The chase begun and what a night it turned it out to be!!
The thread of hope turned into a strong rope with the amazing start given. His eyes lit up and his belief grew strong. Dramatic turn of events and the rope was cut into a single frayed thread. All hope was dangling by that thread. The lights in the house were out. Yet the 14 year old sat faithfully in front of his television. His optimism was diminished, his mind was troubled at the thought of yet another final's defeat, every fibre of his body said "Go to sleep.. It's gone". His mother echoed the same thought from her room. But some force refused to let go. He continued to watch hoping against hope. The task was getting more impossible by the second.
Hold on. Wait a minute, tide was turning. Two young men were turning it on at the crease. His brow cleared a little. An occasional smile flickered across his lips. His heart started beating louder. Was it possible? Even after so much had gone wrong, can the match be won. Can everything be good again. Every ball was a prayer. Gasps escaped his throat involuntarily. He was as much part of the match as the players. Sweat creased his brow. But he didn't move an inch. The desire to itch his back was great but if he moved, the dream might end - such was his superstition and the amount of sacrifice that he was willing to make for his team.
Match neared it's end. His heart was beating frantically now. His movements were animated. He was thinking- We could win. The desire was beyond imaginable levels. The rest as they is history. As Kaif scrambled for the winning run, I leaped up with joy and a roaring whoop. So did millions of others across the world. Ganguly was there in the stadium topless and vociferously mouthing those words that I had recently come to use. Just to be a part of that moment bad-mouthing the English was a dream. A dream I was part of. A dream that was made sweeter by Ganguly's antics. A memory to remember.
GreatBong puts it wonderfully well. A few snippets I found lovely.
..After all, once “there is nothing left to try, there is no greater power than the power of goodbye”
It is strange this strong emotional connect we feel with sportsmen, a bond even stronger for those sportsmen you grew up with. he ones for whom you put down your books, against your better judgment, the night before the exam. The ones for whom you stayed up all night, even knowing about the early train that needs catching. The ones whom you argued for (and against) with your friends over a cup of tea on rainy afternoons.
He goes on sentimentally about his beloved sportsperson and his memories. Memories which are vividly etched even in our memory. Memories of his brilliance
..And most importantly memories of Sourav walking the earth with barely controlled aggression—the kind that made you stand up from your sofa and shout “Give it to those bastards”. Of never backing down from a fight. Of taking off his shirt in the holiest of holies, giving a metaphorical middle-finger salute to the Old Boys of Lords. Of uniting a team torn asunder by match-fixing and welding them into a team that, win or lose, would never give up.
If there is one enduring legacy of Dada, it is that he taught an almost perennially defeatist Indian cricket team “to believe” (For those who have sat through wimpy, gutless Indian performances through the 80s will appreciate even more the truth of this statement). ...
Why just the Indian cricket team? Putting on my pop sociologist cap, let me say that Sourav’s place in history, more than as a cricketer, is because he embodied the “in your face” spirit of the economically resurgent nation of the 1990s-2000s— a young nation eager to throw off the Gandhian ideal of turning the other cheek, a confident nation no longer ashamed to pay back the opposition in its own currency.