“Forever is composed of nows” – Emily Dickinson (American poet of the nineteenth century)
Rahul Dravid was down and out, almost. He came in to bat at number six, in the second innings follow on of a match that India was quickly losing. As he prepared to face the ball, the Australian captain hurled a scathing remark, ‘Oh Rahul is number six now, next match, he’ll be number twelve’. He meant Rahul is playing so bad, he’ll be out of the team soon. This was a sharp comment to discourage a player who was already going through a lean phase and was on the verge of being ousted from the team.
Rahul had had a bout of low scores in the past and even in this series against the Aussies he and the Indian team had fared miserably. He felt shaken within as he prepared to bat as memories of his poor performance flashed before his eyes. His mind had weakened. He was now being intimidated by aggressive opponents who were amongst the best in the art of sledging-a ploy to distract a batsman and disturb his concentration by sarcastic insults which would cause him to make mistakes, and get dismissed.
What did Rahul do? He decided to take one ball at a time. He told himself there’s nothing he could do about the past and he has no control over his fate after this match. But this innings was his. And to be more precise, the ball that is coming at him now is the only reality of his life. ‘This ball is mine and I play it to perfection’ affirmed Rahul. Meanwhile the Aussies tried their best to see the back of him but Rahul Dravid just lived one ball at a time.
What happened then is an incredible story of grit. Along with his partner Laksman, Rahul batted the entire fourth day, and most astonishingly, the Indian team came back to life, became the aggressor and won the match that is widely considered to be one of the greatest matches in test history. Rahul etched his name in cricket folklore but that happened because as the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “The meeting of two eternities-past and future- is precisely the present moment.”To be continued…