It has been a while since we have seen you in international action and your absence continues to hurt us. It feels like a lost star, burning towards its supernova with no one barely willing to tag along.
This is a letter of apology to you. A letter that speaks on behalf of a billion Indians who wanted to see you desperately in England and yet it didn’t happen.
The last time you were in action was against the formidable Blackcaps and you sparked almost impossible hopes in the second innings by claiming a brace in a very short succession of time.
It occurred to me that you can be an absolute game-changer in England but the management believed otherwise. With all due deference to their knowledge and expertise, I won’t say that they were wrong.
However, what I will say is that when India crumbled down for a paltry 78, maybe you could have stirred a beam of resistance. Last night, when Thakur had to be desperate to play a few more rollicking strokes to keep the momentum going, your presence at the other end could have helped.
When Jadeja failed to wring out wickets with the cherry in his arm, maybe your expertise could have helped. All of these are based on ifs and buts but what isn’t actually a probability is the fact that you are a big match player.
The bigger the pressure is, the better you perform. I am not saying that this is a match that is as big as the WTC final. I am not saying that the sky will fall upon us if India fails to win this match, but a victory can go a long way in defining India’s presence in the second World Test Championship.
It ain’t about the results. It is about the impact. It is about a statement that Indians could have issued for the other teams to take notice of.
That dejected face of yours is what broke my heart yesterday. The story that you were patted on the back by Shastri and you went back to bowl at the rubber stumps in the net, that heavy feeling pressed on your heart, it stings in the wrong place, Ash.
You do not deserve this. You deserve a lot more. Sadly, for you, the timing is so wrong. Maybe the management has a plan that we do not see and something that hasn’t really worked in a while. Maybe everything will fall in place and India will run roughshod over England. Maybe the lead in the series will be restored.
It’s all a maybe, Ash but what isn’t a maybe is the fact that you will have to set your sights somewhere else unless the management figures out what’s wrong with this team. The fact that Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes have helped England built a significant lead begs the question of whether the management is aware of what exactly they are up to? Or is it all a hunch?
I do not know and no one knows either. However, I am sure that Kings never die and you are an emperor. All you need is a chance and I know that you will prove to the world that India should have taken you in the first place.
A crazy cricket fan