If anyone ever had doubts that Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman in the world, they would have been left with none after the way he powered India into the final of the tournament. If anyone ever doubted his commitment to Indian cricket, he or she should have seen his running between the wickets on a hot sand-filled evening.
His range of strokes is well known so also his inventiveness and the power that he packs into his strokes but these get him boundaries or sixes which require no running. Here the boundaries took some time coming as the Australians bowled well and fielded tigerishly, so he had to run hard and fast between wickets. He did that not only for runs off his bat but also for those of his partners showing once again that Indian cricket comes first and personal ambitions take second place.
The Australians must be sick of the sight of him for he has scored runs against them in just about every game since they landed in India, but surely not the discerning who feel privileged to see the little champion display the talent that he has been blessed with and sent to our earth for.
I am an unabashed admirer of his batting and have been so since I saw him as a 15-year-old make his debut in first-class cricket. But that does not mean that I do not enjoy the game of the others in the team, for each player with their individual style has his own way to give joy to the spectator.
Tendulkar is an individual who plays by instinct and is not predictable and that is why he gives so much pleasure to those who watch him bat. His is a rare combination of classical correctness combined with power and grace and this is why he draws people to the grounds like honey draws bees.
This is what must have been the scene in the 1930s and 1940s when Sir Donald Bradman was playing. Of course, that generation did not have TV to capture the action and beam the pictures to a worldwide audience as is happening today, so this generation is fortunate indeed.
When Tendulkar bats like that, then all else pales into insignificance but that would be doing injustice to Michael Bevan who played one of the finest compliled innings in one-day cricket ( 101* ). He too ran hard between the wickets for himself as well as for his partners, but then he is a fitness fanatic who trains with the ironman and that training is rigorous to say the least.
Cricket is a team game where everybody has to contribute but as we were privileged to see here, if Tendulkar does well then India does well. Wouldn't it be nice if the Indian team were to win and give the little champion a birthday to remember on Friday.
The team did win - see the other sections for details.