Today somehow I went back 7 years in time.Just 7 years ago,Sachin was batting in a test match at Chennai.Warne was looking for vengeance and he switched to round the wicket,to exploit the rough outside leg,he was at his most lethal under such circumstances.This was going to be the showdown.
First ball,nevermind the turn,the flight,the spin-Sachin got down the wicket and blasted the ball off long-on boundary for a six.The showdown was over as soon as it had begun.Sachin scored 155 (If I remember correctly,and I think I do) and India won that test.Warne spoke about having his famous Sachin nightmares after that match.
The stage was much less important today.The opposition was not that tough.The match was an ODI.But,most importantly,the Sachin was the same.Muralitharan was brought into action in the 5th over after the early carnage by Veeru and Sachin.It was a mini contest when he stepped in to bowl to Sachin.Two balls later,it was a no contest.Sachin despatched those 2 balls effortlessly to the boundary with the vintage shots we were all craving to watch.The first one was a similar advance down the wicket,beaming with confidence.He had found himself again.And I,had seen him return.
He built upon his first match knock and got a 59 ball 67.The way he has played after his return is something we all hoped,rather prayed for.Just being himself again.The confident drives,off and on,the cheeky sweeps and paddle sweeps,the menacing steps down the pitch..ah! It's cricketing heaven again :)
A sad way to end the day though.His partner in crime for most of his opening assaults-Saurav was not included in the team for the next 3 ODI's.I am not a big Ganguly fan,but I honestly think he hadn't done that badly to not be given a chance.OK maybe he has,I'm not sure.Haven't seen enough of him lately.
Most of my favorite players go this way,or even sadder ways.Mark Waugh,Azhar,Cronje...I have a big list :(