Strangely, I was reminded of this match today. As a little boy I vividly remember watching this entire series with my uncle. A boy called dindi kept stepping into my house and commented "that selfish guy is only looking for a century. not a win". On a pitch where Kapil opened the bowling with Maninder singh, Gavaskar opened the batting in 4th innings and was playing a knock similar to Tendulkar's Chennai 136 against Pakistan. It was one man battling against 1 bowler who was making the pitch spit snakes. It was not a team against another team. It was 1 man waging a war. After Gavaskar got out my uncle was like "I am never going to watch cricket again". The cleansing process of life is fascinating. The old are washed away and replaced by the new in no time.
As Tendulkar sets aside his last two paasurams for a Sattrumurai before he sings his mangalam, I stand depressed. Not only because of the cliched childhood dying. It is. I am also sad that I am not as sad as I thought I would be. I enjoyed a particular brand of Tendulkar. I didn't watch him because of an 'Indian' spirit or for the "for love of country" nonsense. I didn't think cricket was a team game where 11 people do a coordinated attack to topple the other 11. I switched off the TV when Tendulkar got out. It really didn't matter to me what happened after that. I'd take a Tendulkar 100 and an Indian loss any day thrice on boxing day. I saw the game because it was a 1x1 battle between a supremely talented batsman and an attacking bowler. Here was a batsman who rose above the mediocrity surrounding him. Throughout the 90s when he walked in at nothing for 2 wickets which quickly became nothing for 5 wickets, he demonstrated the difference between mediocrity and class when facing high quality bowling attacks. For that we have to thank the reasonably good batsman who played for India in the 90s who played their part in showing why the bowling was difficult so that Tendulkar could show us why he was special. These other players do include Dravids, Azharuddins Laxmans, Manjrakars and Gangulys of the world.
I didnt think his skill was waning. This was just another challenge he would have outgrown in due course. I watched Tendulkar for the moments he created. He scored 10 or 12 runs against Donald in Durban but there were a couple of 4s there that I would rather watch as opposed to several centuries of other batsmen put together. He made 12 runs in Perth against Wasim and Waquar but the two or three 4s he hit was worth the $200 I paid as a stipend earning student and the fines I subsequently paid for illegally installing a dish antenna in a student apartment without permission. I watched Tendulkar the batsman. Salivating at the possibilities. He did what no other batsmen could do in the art of batting. That he was a cog in the wheel for a team to win some trophies was a distraction. It was tax that I had to pay to watch him bat.