Salman Rushie's famous novel, Midnight Children, talks about Saleem, who is born on 15th Aug, 1947, at the exact moment on which India got its independence.
Cricket's moment of truth came much later on 25th June, 1983, when India led by Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential World Cup by defeating the two times defending champion, West Indies at the home of Cricket- Lords. That win sparked hope and ambition in a million hearts, in the cricket maidans and colony lanes across India. Kids wanted to be the next Kapil Dev, Amarnath or Gavaskar. One such kid was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who made his debut, six years later vs Pakistan in 1989. This started a new era in Indian Cricket- the next level above the foundations of the '83 win.
For those born in the early 80's- their cricket watching started with this start of India's next level. It started around 1990, when SRT made his debut. For me especially, cricket watching started with the '92 World Cup in Australia and the '93 Hero Cup in India- coinciding with the start of the rise of the new phase and the start of the rise of Sachin Tendulkar.
This generation was Cricket's Midnight Children. They were came in when the foundation was made by Kapil Dev and they started following Cricket when the next architect- Sachin, started his journey.
As Cricket's Midnight Children moved from School to College to Work Life from the 90's till 2013- there was one constant- Sachin. That one constant showed through various instances, the many facets of life and the many facets of the most beautiful game- Cricket.
The Magical Game
Its not over till the last ball is balled is a saying most commentators use to hold viewer attention till the very end. It all came true in 1993- in the Hero Cup semi final. A young Sachin, bowling the last over, in front of a packed Eden Gardens, defended 6 runs, conceding only 3 and hence put India in the final. Anything can happen in this magical game, which was proved in this match- the impossible was actually nothing.
The could haves
Sometimes, some of the best performances come in the most saddening of loses. Its like those tragic love stories like Romeo and Juliet, where a beautiful romance leads to a tragic ending. The 1999 test match against Pakiatan in Chennai was one such example. It was last innings of the match, against the fearsome Wasim and Waqar and the dangerous Saqlain, with India chasing 270 on a difficult wicket. Sachin, after scoring a duck in the first innings, played almost a lone hand in the 2nd innings, scoring 136 runs and taking India within 16 runs of victory. After he fell, India folded to lose the last few wickets and ultimately lost by 12 runs. The Chennai crowd gave Pakistan a standing ovation in recognition for pulling off a win against the might of Sachin Tendulkar.
Life moves on
Here again in the same year, during the World Cup in England, India started poorly, losing the first two matches. Sachin, who had flown back due to the death of his father, came back and scored a huge 140 against Kenya. It kept India in the running and restored some of the lost confidence in the side. He looked up after completing his hundred to a proud father up above.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. If the 2001 India-Australia test series belonged to VVS, in 1997 it was Sachin Tendulkar. The series was billed as a Sachin vs Warne contest. Sachin led from the front, attacked Warne and took then mighty and unbeatable Australia out of the series. Same year was witness to the unforgettable Desert Storm in Sharjarh, where Sachin again was India's saviour against the Aussies.
Its said memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, things you are and things you never want to lose.
These moments were a close part of the growing up memories of the Cricket's Midnight Children. Then the match fixing scandal broke out in 2000 and post school, other priorities in life took over. One still cheered the magnificent T20 win in 2007 and the historic 2011 Cricket World Cup Win in which Sachin again led from the front by being the 2nd highest run getter. He become 6th time lucky and displayed another facet of cricket and life- that perseverance ultimately pays off in the best possible of ways and moments.
With the Sachin era ending, that first love of the Cricket's midnight children has come to a close and a part of life has been taken away.
The baton seems to be passing though to the wonderfully talented players like Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Pujara and Dhawan. The magic in the game is returning and you want to fall in love with the great game... again.
On behalf of Cricket's midnight children, a big thank you to Sachin for being such an essential part of growing up.
Looking forward to many more seasons of the great game and the rise of the next set of icons.
p.s.: I was born close to midnight on 25th June, 83 - The day Kapil lifted the Prudential Cup at the Lords. So, I can call myself among the true Cricket's Midnight Children!