Going back to the period (1985- 89) India had the likes of K Srikanth and Kapil Dev who made us watch the game in excitement. They were very effervescent cricketing talent who either fired like a Kalashnikov or went dud like a Diwali cracker. Srikant, I remember in the Champions Trophy in Australia (1985) and the Sharjah matches thereafter; would go on a leather hunt like some drunken hunter going bonkers in the forest. He would have us on the edge of the seat as he lived similarly at the crease. He had the aggression , maybe some technique but surely no temperament to stay at the crease. Kapil would bring a similar excitement whenever he came to bat lower down the order. The power he generated from his shots and the disdain with which he treated all length balls was a treat to watch. But again, to see him fire was not frequent enough. Like a runaway Jat-train he had the tendency to derail (throw away his wicket to rash shots- best exemplified by his Semifinal world cup innings against England in Mumbai in 1989). Nonetheless, these two superb players made us love the game for this kind of aggression they brought to the game.
Watching Tendulkar, 1989 & thereafter brought this kind of excitement. The difference was that here was a player packaged beautifully in all the 3 compartments of the game; Aggression, Temperament &Technique that was somewhat missing in the earlier era. He would slaughter the bowlers but with a watertight technique of footwork, balance and timing he always assured us of being on top of his opponent. There was excitement but no fear of losing him the battle with the bowler. Maybe the mountain of runs he accumulated is testament to that. In the process he ushered in a kind of confidence & measured aggression in the Indian team that I felt was missing before him.
I found the duel between Akram & Sachin in Sharjah particularly interesting. The beauty of their contest was the ‘natural flow’ with which these 2 greats played the game on either sides of the crease. A fired up Akram would steam-in & bowl in a smooth free flowing rollover action. He had the pace, swing and the guile in his deliveries that would send shivers in any batsman. But in an equally free flowing action, Sachin would very often pack his balls to the Boundary in style. All the equations settled and squared off within 3/4ths of a second, the viewer would only react to the aftermath. This to me was Cricket symphony of the highest order that only a maestro could produce. Take a bow Sachin.