Indians continue to maintain their tradition of giving fitting farewells to cricketing legends as The “Final” jinx for Sri Lanka was finally broken when Thisara Perera lofted the delivery- in the 18th over- from Ravi Ashwin for a big maximum. The two Sri Lankan stalwarts in the form of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara had tried so much for their nation over the years but they failed every time to bring a world cup home. But they got it right in the 3rd World T20 final and indeed they were “third time lucky”, as predicted by Ian Chappel early from the start of the final match. The two legends didn’t want any more opportunity to be missed as they wanted to make their retirement, from the shortest format, count in the best way.
When I posed this deeply disconcerting question in the beginning, I am sure many of you would have serious doubts in your mind. So let’s have a look at the legends who were given farewell in a romanticized way by none other than- the Indian Cricket Team.
Stalwarts ending their career with a World Cup
The most recent of this ironic tradition came when Sri Lanka won the recently concluded T20 world cup in Bangladesh. The Indians were undefeated in this tournament and were deemed as being the favourites but due to some outstanding bowling towards the end by the Lankan Tigers, Indians were restricted to a paltry total of 130 which was never going to be a tough chase.
But as Virat Kohli and Darren Sammy said, the God was with them as top edges and inside edges flew away to the boundaries. Kumar Sangakkara was undefeated towards the end as he shared a 24 run partnership with another retiring legend Mahela Jayawardene, anchored the innings, scored a half century and won the world cup for his team- what else do you want in your farewell!
Jacques Kallis’ Class Innings
South Africa’s no.4 was never in form going into the 2nd of the series at Durban. The 1st test match was drawn, at Johannesburg, and so the last of the test was a do for the Proteas as they wanted to keep their record intact and possibly that was the biggest way they could have given the South African legend, a great farewell.
India had scored over 300 on the board and the pressure was on the South Africans when, after a century opening partnership, 3 wickets fell for just 10 runs. It was then an act of consolidation began from Kallis and the then no.1 test batsman- AB de Villiers. They made the Indian attack look blunt and slowly and steadily took the game away from India.
The South African legend then went on to make a century and then Dale Steyn ripped apart the Indian batting line up to ensure a series win. Thankfully, that innings by Kallis became his last as South Africa chased the target without losing any wicket.
Muttiah Muralidharan’s Unbreakable Milestone
The Sri Lankan spin wizard had announced that he would take the retirement from the longest format after the 1st test match of the series against India in 2010. Murali’s wicket tally was 792 before this test match. He then took exactly 8 wickets in that match to finish his career at 800 wickets. Truly amazing, isn’t it?
The moment he took Pragyan Ojha’s wicket, I had to close my ears, watching on TV, as the Sri Lankan players were overjoyed and were shouting like hell. However, the Men in Blue came back in the test series to square it but they had done their work of giving a great tribute to a great man.
Steve Waugh’s Rescue Act
We now go way back to the year 2004 when a furious battle was raging- Sourav Ganguly vs Steve Waugh. Waugh failed to conquer his so called “final frontier”, in 2001, and was thinking of taking a revenge on Ganguly’s men. But on the other hand, the prince of Calcutta had created a team which was difficult to beat. While the 1st test was drawn because of a magnificent innings from the Indian captain, the 2nd produced a historic victory mainly due to the hard working shoulders of Rahul Dravid. The Boxing day test was won by Australia in which Ricky Ponting scored a stupendous double hundred. So it all came down to the 4th and final test and the final one for Steve Waugh.
When the Australian Iceman came into the middle for the one last time, his team was down with 3 wickets. After few overs, the 4th was also down which brought two new batsman in the crease. The stage was set for Waugh to produce a rescue act which he did in his epic innings of 80 runs and took victory beyond India’s reach. He was finally given a standing ovation from the Sydney crowd as he went back to the pavilio for the one last time, after he was caught by Sachin Tendulkar at deep mid-wicket.
Most of the times, in such farewell matches, India were at the opposing end. They did perform well, ironically, to give a perfect farewell to legends. Never has a country given such emotional endings so many times. So just one question now remains to be answered- why always India?