It is a rare occurrence that two all-time batting greats, belonging to rival teams, exit from a popular form of cricket in the same match at the same venue.
When Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid played their last Twenty20 match (the final of the Champions League T20 between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals) at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday, nothing else mattered much. Not even the result!
For the ardent fans, who thronged the stadium that stood in the historical backdrop of a 14th century fortress, fading away of Tendulkar and Dravid was once-in-a-generation occasion. They were proud to be part of history.
For the two ageing practitioners of correct batsmanship, who made their names by flourishing in the gruelling atmosphere of Test cricket, Twenty20 offered a different challenge. The two might have tried their best to stay away from T20 internationals, but the lure of cricket was too much to resist.
Tendulkar scored more than around 2800 runs in 96 Twenty20 matches with an average of over 33 and 121-plus strike rate. Dravid, a strong believer in conventional batting, gathered nearly 2600 runs in 109 matches with 28 runs per innings. He added opportunism to his batting to maintain close to a strike rate of 114.
Dravid’s last appearance
It was Dravid’s last Twenty20 appearance and in effect it brought an end to his illustrious career from all forms of cricket. Royals’ showing in the CLT20 might provide some satisfaction to Dravid, who was not able to bid adieu to Tests from a cricket ground.
For Tendulkar, any form of cricket has been a source of enjoyment. But the 40-year-old is not getting any younger to cope with demands of the high-octane form of cricket.
His love for Tests is still intact and perhaps he wants to get rid of the physically-demanding T20 form to give his best in the longest version of the game.
Tendulkar was part of the Mumbai Indians squad when it won the CLT20 title in 2011 and the IPL crown earlier this year.
Henceforth, their fans will always miss these two masters whenever cricket is played in coloured clothing.