From dust will they rise again?

By Akshay Ramaseshan

The Indian cricket team and Rafael Nadal have something in common. Both are world champions, one in the T20 format, the other in the ATP race. Their performances in the recently concluded contests too, were similar.

India, the defending champion, entered the tournament as clear favourites. From the day they took to the game’s latest truncated version, they have looked the team to beat, clearly. A sense of exclusive ownership as the format’s big boss prevailed.

The rest of the world too bowed in submission in front of the enthusiastic and hard-hitting young Indian team. Similarly, Rafael Nadal, tennis world’s best thing to have stepped on red clay, walked into Roland Garros 2009 as if winning were a mere formality. The muscular Nadal made the surface his own from the very first match he played in 2005.

Others, including the great Roger Federer, did not have an answer to this super-human-machine who ran and covered the battlefield like a rabbit would do. There was never a battle.

India and Nadal would eventually run out of steam when they were least expected to. India lost the plot in the Super 8 knock-out stage of the World T20 Championships, losing all their games, and Nadal surrendered his empire in the most unconvincing fashion, to a suddenly-someone called Robin Soderling.

Both champions lost, as if they wanted to lose. No effort or authority was in display in their screen tests. And both had one thing to blame, fatigue. But in sport, especially international, that’s never really a reason the legion of fans would agree to.

May be it was written they should end their domination. May be it was necessary they lost to give more balance to the sport. One thing is for sure, the juggernaut had to come to an end, sooner or later.

The road ahead will have to be re-laid. The work towards reconstruction will be an interesting period. As generally champions do, both shall re-invent.


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