1st ODI, Chennai
India face off with Pakistan in the first bilateral series since 2007. With Sachin Tendulkar not part of the ODI mix anymore, this 1st ODI in Chennai would elicit curious anticipation and make for big news on any other given day in the cricketing world. In fact, with the t20 series being leveled at Ahmedabad due to India’s favorite limited (overs) son Yuvraj Singh, 50 over cricket, 3 matches of the sort, were setting tongues wagging.
Tony Greig, the former English captain-cum-commentator who set the stage alight 2 decades ago with ‘they’re dancing in the aisles in Sharjah’, ‘little kalu’, ‘you little beauty’ and phrases that bordered on art, is no more. His battle with lung cancer got the better of him, and with his favorite cricketer retiring from odis, an era in limited-overs cricket truly ends. But this is still not the biggest news of the day, not even close.
Michael Hussey announced his retirement from test cricket after the Sri Lanka series, thus going out on a high- no doubt learning from the unfortunate cases of ponting, dravid and Sachin about ‘good timing’. Mr. Cricket leaves international cricket at the top, but this isn’t headlines today either.
India, the country, is in its darkest reflective hour right now. With the infamous delhi incident now coming to a tragic close with the death of its victim, citizens and even cricket fans all over the country are coming to terms with the fact that Pakistan may not be the only country labeled with an unwanted tag right now. With the harsh reality difficult to swallow in its immediate aftermath- with mini revolutions storming around the capital- Indian players, and their counterparts in Pakistan, will no doubt have cricket on their minds last, where it has become very clear that playing is only their profession- and whatever they do, this gloom cannot be lifted overnight with a game.
Respect and silence could mark the first ODI of this historic series, on the penultimate day of a year that has taken away more than giving. The date and timing of this first India vs Pakistan ODI match, though, might go down in the history books for all the wrong reasons.