Dear, Future Adi
I read earlier that the vaccines have left the Serum Institute's building at 5 AM in three trucks to Pune Airport. It seems that they will fly in cargo flights to various cities across India. The largest vaccination trial is expected to begin on January 16. This is essential work; life-changing literally. However, this is not the reason why I am writing to you. Something big happened yesterday, no, not life-changing but in all aspects important. Indian cricket team drew the third test in Border-Gavaskar 2020-21 series.
I know in the future Test Cricket might only remain in our memories. Who would want to celebrate a draw at the end of the fifth day of a match when you can have results of two matches fought in coloured clothes & a loud frenzy atmosphere?
I want this letter to remind you of the joy of watching the red-ball cricket in its full glory.
The previous night when I went up to the top of my bunk bed, I took both the TV remotes with me. Though technology has advanced, you still need two remotes to make TV work. I did not want to get down in the chilly winter of North India (Jaipur) and look for the remotes in the dark. However, the real reason is not to wake up Preeti whose sleep I guard like a South Indian Heimdall.
I woke up at 5:15, fully knowing that match would have started. I looked for my dear companion - the 6-inch phone. Much like Dhoni's quick stumping, I opened the live score page of Ind vs Aus match on ESPNCricinfo. The wicket column said three, and I am like "Here, we go again!". Rahane had got out in the second over of the match. I was disappointed. Though I was awake and had both TV remotes next to me, I did not bother to turn on the TV.
At this age, Adi, I do not have the heart or the courage to see more Indian batting collapse. I have seen enough. After all, I am a quintessential 90s kid.
I stayed in bed, imagining the misery that would follow. After 10 minutes, I opened the app again and saw Pant batting cautiously. I knew the day was only getting worse. Pant was playing against his natural style. What had we gotten into?
Let me remind you I was still on the bed without moving an inch to avoid the squeaking noise that would awake Preeti. Heimdall never forgets his duty. Does he?
After what seemed like ages, I read Pant expressing himself. At this auspicious occasion, I turned on the TV, and the rest is history. Well not exactly but I like how we can end any sentence with rest in history and readers don't question the writer.
Adi, I saw two batsmen who couldn't be more different, playing together in complete harmony. Pujara was being Pujara, and Pant was being Pant. It made me realise all the good in the world even during the times of Covid. Pant hit Lyon; some people call him the "GOAT" which I fail to understand why, all over the ground. So much so that the GOAT was removed from the attack. It seems that GOAT had the last laugh, but I don't understand how that is true? The last laugh after such a beating is like Trump planning his next four years in the Oval office. Pointless no?
Adi, the foolish optimist in me, started smelling victory. But the reality hit me hard, and I tried the reverse psychology hack that always works. I was pessimistic and started saying we are only a few wickets away from the collapse. These psychology games tire me Adi, but I know as an Indian citizen, we have to do these like we stand when an anthem is played in the movies. There is no reason for it, but we have to do what we have to do.
Pant was on 97 and a hit away from what would have been a famous century. He got out with a mishit of GOAT's bowling. The fans on ESPNCricinfo criticised Pant for his choice of shot and went on and on about it. One person even wrote an essay titled "How to score a 100 in a crucial match of the series without using a bat". It looks like Chetan Bhagat's publisher is hounding this person for the next book deal. Adi, these writers I tell you. I hope they get better in the future.
Then came Vihari. As much as I love test cricket and get teary-eyed every time Harsha Bhogle tweets a romantic ode to Test cricket; I was not too excited to see Pujara and Vihari bat. I got down from the bed making as less noise as possible. I used the leisure time to make myself a cup of tea, and when I resumed watching the match, I saw Pujara hitting three consecutive fours of Pat Cummins. Could the day have got any better?
And just when I was getting comfortable watching the match Pujara got out. He got bowled. It was tough to accept, Adi. I made up an excuse of doing laundry and turned off the TV. I wouldn't have had the heart to see India lose to the team dropping sitters like that Rajesh. Remember him, Adi? We used to be discouraged every time he was part of our team.
I went on with the day, forgetting that a Test Match is being played. After an hour or so, I parked my car on the side of the road and clicked on ESPNCricinfo to confirm my worst fears. The scorecard read 308/5. I couldn't believe it and frantically refreshed the app. I kept going back to the app at every signal I stopped my car. It still read 308/5. I assumed the guys at ESPNCricinfo got dejected and stopped covering the test, but then I saw one number continuously ticking - number of balls faced. Vihari and Ashwin were doing the unthinkable - batting out the day to get a draw. I quickly checked the year on the phone, and it read 2021.
Adi, I wanted to be sure there was no "Back to the future" madness happening.Turns out at the fag end of Test Cricket as we know it, the game reminded us of its beauty and displayed the old fashioned traits such as grit and tenacity.
I came back; turned on the TV and switched off the world. Ten overs were remaining in the day. Tim Paine was trying to get into the head of Ashwin not knowing he is talking to a smarter person; maybe the most intelligent person on the field. Ashwin was resolute in his defence. Starc bowled his heart out, and Vihari stayed away from bowls that could lead to his dismissal. The last overs were tense, Adi. Anything could have happened. All Australia needed was one wicket, and they would have gotten the rest. Ashwin edged one and Paine dropped the catch. Karma being Karma. Both batsmen stood their ground. India stood their ground. They refused to accept defeat. They did not have the legs to secure a win, but they had a heart big enough to never give up.
Adi, I know how much you love test cricket, and I want to remind you that when Ashwin and Vihari were walking back to the pavilion, you cried. You tried not to make it obvious, but you did cry. This test match was a gift from the game you love and the series you have followed for years.
I hope Test Cricket remains in whatever form it is allowed to exist in the future. For all practical reasons it might die soon. However, I do wish this is one form of sport that stands the test of time as it always has. Irrespective I do hope this letter reminds you of this beautiful day when India stood its ground. Please say Hi to Preeti for me!
Sincerely, Today's Adi.