Apart from Cricket, Bollywood has been my other passion, so naturally I grew up watching all the famous movies over and again. That was the era of Angry Young Man, the Big B, he occupied the silver screen for almost two decades, but even in the magnanimous presence of the superstar, one other actor always left his mark, he was neither as tall nor did he have such towering personality and they referred to him as chintu. Yes, I am talking about the chocolate boy, bobby fame, Rishi Kapoor, who made a Qawalli “Parda Hai Prada” a huge hit, only to see Mr. AB steal the show with the lines “toh…akbar tera naam nahi hain….”. A few years later when Big B’s Aura was fading a bit, he portrayed one of his best roles in the movie Saagar, only to see Kamal Hasan get the Best Actor at the Filmfares. Rishi was indeed the most talented actor amongst all the Kapoors, but never really got his fair share of dues.
There has been a similar story in Indian cricket team. A batsman, more popularly known as “the wall”, has been consistently answering the nation’s call for duty, but unfortunately has always remained under the huge shadow cast by the God of the game himself. And, in 2001 at the Eden Gardens, just when it looked like he make a mark on his own against the mighty Aussies with a marathon 180, he saw his partner make a Very Very Spectacular 281!!! Even in the recently concluded WI tour, people praised the Ishant effort with the ball and Laxman’s twin 80s at Barbados, however, it was Rahul’s worksman like ton at Jamaica, that led India to 1-0 in the series. It was no different at Lord’s on Day 3 of the 2000th test.
The man started his career at this same venue about 15 years ago, batted at #7 (can you believe that even Ajay Jadeja batted before him), managed to score 133 runs with the tail, however was unlucky to miss a ton by mere 5 runs. He went on to score over 12000 runs and 32 tons, but that one at the Mecca of the game kept eluding him. He batted 4 more times at this ground and best he could score was 63. Today, at the age of 38, what we witnessed was a determination that was even stronger than the lad who debuted at 23. Just like always, his hard-work paid him the rich dividends and he reached the landmark, got his name on the honors board at Lord’s when he remained unbeaten at 103 as India’s innings concluded. No other Indian batsman could even manage a half century, not even the God.
During his outstanding efforts today he surpassed Ricky Ponting and became the second most prolific runs scorer in the history of the game. The only one ahead of him is “the God” by about 2300 runs. The real question that I wish to ask today is “Do we really treat Rahul as the World’s #2?” I think the real answer lies in the fact that most of us still deny the fact that God is the #1 and best of them all, they would find some way or the other to come up with convenient examples of claiming how Lara or Ponting are better. Take a hard look everyone, Ponting is not even the 2nd one and if Kallis scores 7 more runs Lara would at #5. Test cricket is all about scoring runs, over and over, for years together. Lara and Ponting have definitely played some mesmerizing knocks but so has VVS Laxman. It’s about time we give Rahul the respect he deserves.
Ponting can’t be the best in the world just because one of the Chappell brothers says so, numbers don’t back it up. Lara was the best about 6 years ago, but frankly, the God has outlasted him, perhaps that’s why they call him the God. Similarly Rahul has knocked Ponting down, also the numbers clearly show that India is ranked #1 while Australia at #5, no wonder world’s top 2 batsmen are from India. Rahul’s contribution to team India’s success over the entire 15 year span has been simply invaluable. Sachin has always been performing like God, but look at team India’s performances in the early 90’s and compare those with ones since the late 90s and you will see the impact of the “Dravid factor”. Numbers always tell you the truth, just like Rahul always gets you the runs!!!
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav