Even earlier, when Harbhajan leaped in joy at the last wicket and the rest of the team converged on the pitch, he was alone, jogging in from the outfield, a smile on his face but his eyes hidden by those glares. He had a hand held up to high-five his mates. The only guy he could find was the next-to-newest member, Amit Mishra. He still smiled.
Oh, they chaired him off the ground afterwards. And Mahi had already made a grand gesture of asking him to set the field for a while after the 8th wicket fell. It’s a sign of the man’s enthusiasm for the game, or perhaps his love of being in charge, that he actually accepted the offer. I thought it was a trifle demeaning, he should have smiled and waved it off.
Then they left the ground. The curtain came down. He’ll come back to his home in Behala and then, perhaps, when we can’t see him, the smile will fade.
He may deny it, but there are regrets. Those last 15 runs that eluded him in the first innings. Hell, the 17 runs that were his for the asking in
It was never just about the cricket. There will be a few dozen articles and a couple thousand blog posts about how he gave Indian cricket Attitude, about his record as captain and his magic through the off-side. But for most of us, and especially in
He was never one to go gentle into that good night. But like they wrote on Cricinfo, after a while a man bears the marks of “every glove that laid him low, or cut him”, and it’s better to leave on your own terms.
It might be bathetic to label him our last tragic hero. Unlike his opening partner (Chhoto Babu to his Babumoshai) he was too human for deification. He was never larger than life, let alone large enough to be a superhero. Maybe he was even a loser in his last war. But then again, perhaps those lines spoken over the body of another loser might not be out of place – “This was a man … ”