The year took off with India breaking the Kiwi jinx in March 2009. The 41 –year old Gremlin was slayed under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And more importantly, world cricket saw Gautam Gambhir’s arrival on the Test scene. With Delhi southpaw’s consistency, India got a formidable opening pair in Gambhir- Sehwag, a long time after Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan.
As cricket returned to Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium towards the end, India claimed the numero uno Test spot and capped the year on an ultimate high. Amidst all that came was also India’s failure in Champions Trophy and ICC T20 World Cup. This somewhat stole the sheen of India’s famous ODI wins in Kiwiland and Emerald Islands.
But further comment on this subject can wait for the moment, as this was one of those years where cricketing brilliance of some individuals surpassed all logic and expectations and enthralled cricket fans like never before.
It was a year where one would just like
to sit back and admire the cricketing brilliance of individuals, who kept redefining the horizons of greatness.
The brutal assault that Sehwag inflicted on hapless Lankan bowlers with Muralitharan leading the charge would find no parallels in cricketing history. On a virgin Brabourne track, Sehwag dismantled the myth that cricket is a team game.
No nudging around, no foreplay, just bout after bout of hitting all around the ground. Sehwag’s approach against Murali was such, that it forced one to think if cricket was actually a non-contact sport?
Never before had the world witnessed such utter disregard for Muralitharan. Pardon me Mr Darrel Hair.
Watching the Sehwag hurricane build up a few kilometers away from Arabian Sea, V Sharma asked on Zeecric, “ Has there another been like Sehwag?”
@ Mr Sharma: There is no one like Sehwag.
Watching the duel between Murali and Sehwag was no less a thrill from the Madison Square Garden fight between Joe Frazier and George Foreman. No doubt Sehwag overpowered him with ease and busted the theory that Murali can spin on glass.
The easy going attitude might look outrageous to those who always start fault finding with his technique whenever there is a failure. You can call him maverick, outstanding, daring or match winner, but for those like me, he is – Amazingly stunning.
Now before I drift away from the topic, which is, how India fared in 2009, I would like to mention another innings which defined the year for India.
In an incredible display of high quality power packed innings, Sachin Tendulkar showed the world what stroke making is all about. Put to chase a huge score of 355 by world champions Australia, Tendulkar threw caution to the wind and pulled the carpet from beneath Ricky Ponting’s feet, but alas, his 175 was not good enough.
Though India lost the game, but Indian fans were rest assured that the Little Master was there to stay for the World Cup in 2011. And who knows, finally luck might smile on India.
The year 2009 also saw India’s rise to number one spot in ICC Test rankings for the first time in history. It’s no denying the fact that it was a long process and hence by showering money on the cricketers, who are currently playing, BCCI missed a point and ignored the contribution of people like Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly.
The year began on an incredibly good note as Harbhajan Singh broke the shackles with a six wicket haul to give India a win after four decades. Gambhir followed it up with another sterling 137 at Napier and more importantly faced 436 balls in his 643 minutes stay at the crease. India drew the match and paved way for the rare triumph in alien conditions.
On the other end, it was the genius and assured precision of ever dependable Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman, who kept proving that with age the wine only gets better.
The winning streak just did not stop here as India managed to trump Sri Lanka in their own den as Dhoni became the first captain to win a series on Lankan soil. Dhoni & Co. then went on to clinch the 5 match ODI series 3-1 against Kiwis and a 2-1 win over depleted Windies.
September saw Tendulkar scoring his 44th ODI ton in the tri series final (Compaq Cup) against Sri Lanka and helped India to a 46-run title victory. It was another grand return by the Little Master, who had missed the ODI series against West Indies earlier in the year.
The champion batsman dedicated the win to the man who introduced him to the world – Raj Singh Dungarpur. Dungarpur passed away a day before the finals of the Compaq Cup.
But the real disappointment came in Champions Trophy as India failed to qualify for the semis after losing to Pakistan by 54 runs at Centurion. The match announced the arrival of Mohammad Aamer, another Pakistani pace sensation. Injury also plagued India in the series as Sehwag, Yuvraj and Zaheer were ruled out.
The disappointment also spilled on the T20 World Cup where Pakistan emerged as the new crowned kings as India failed to live up to the expectations. As too many unwanted IPL and Champions League matches proved a kill joy, Indian players were feeling the heat with list of those injured growing thick every single day.
Towards the end, year 2009 proved that records meant nothing for Tendulkar who completed twenty years and surpassed almost all batting records. But the only grudge I would have with 2009 is that there would be no Prabhas Joshi column at the year-end in leading vernacular newspapers. India lost Prabhas Joshi, the very day when Australia sneaked a victory over India in Hyderabad.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)