Dear Sachin, Dear Rahul: Letters From India’s Greatest Partnership

Despite the advent of the digital age, letter writing is an art that must be preserved. Imagine what it would be like if some of our favourite cricketers exchanged letters to convey their thoughts. Wouldn’t it be great if Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid recalled the old days by exchanging letters?

Let’s see how that correspondence might go:

Dear Jammy:

It seems like yesterday that we were sharing the Indian dressing room, devising plans to prepare for the upcoming Test and playing against each other in the IPL. For two players at the fag-end of their careers, I think we did a pretty decent job of showing the cricket world that there is a place for old dudes in T20 cricket, even though MS might not agree. The last four years have gone by like four days of a Test match. I vividly remember your last innings – batting at an unusual spot and getting out to an uncharacteristic slog – all for the team’s cause. That innings perfectly captured the numerous sacrifices you have endured through all these years. Even though Mumbai Indians won that night, watching you take that final walk back was more painful than the joy of winning the Champions League.

Rahul, it pains my heart to sit at home and watch some of the best talent in the country take on the world. I see myself and you in Virat and Pujara, and they remind me of our many partnerships over the years. Remember the Cairns incident when we tackled the reverse swinging ball through shrewd communication?

I couldn’t have done it with anyone but you. I have dreams of walking out to bat after you have tired – and bored! – the bowlers to death. And while I may not have said it enough, I owe you many of my runs in Test cricket. Looking at the fan followings of Virat and Pujara has made me realize what it must have been like for you to play alongside me – rarely being put on a pedestal as much as you deserved. None of this, however, should come in the way of the fact that I am still India’s most successful Test batsman, although your fans would kill to prove otherwise!

It is kind of sad but we’re not young anymore. Here we are, living the post-retirement life – picking our kids from school, performing household chores and talking cricket from a coach’s perspective, still trying to grasp the finer nuances of the game. Zak, Paddy and yourself have been doing a great job of leading the young Delhi squad in the IPL. I get excited every time Delhi plays, just to see the funky plans you have come up with.

While most of the moves seem to make sense, it is hard to understand the tactical blunder when you sent Mathews ahead of Morris against SRH. The world hasn’t forgotten the 194 incident and it takes only a minor glitch on your part to bring back old memories. This is an awkward topic but one I must address in this letter. No talk of your leadership will ever be complete without bringing up the Multan declaration. My fans are yet to forgive you but I have made peace with it. I want you to know that your friendship and respect matter a lot more than those six runs and I would happily give up many more if that resulted in the team’s win. I was just as much a team man as you were but sadly my critics – who, apparently, were also your die-hard fans – always projected me as a selfish cricketer chasing after records.

I am looking forward to catching up with Dada, Lax and you over the next few weeks. I hear Dada has set the Cricket Association of Bengal straight ever since he took charge and the pitches at Eden now simulate foreign conditions. Dada is desperate for India to pick up those wins away from home.

All the best for the rest of the season, hopefully your cap will stay firmly on by the end of it.

-Sachin

P.S. You should join social media. It is good fun to connect with fans and everyone would love to hear from you from time to time.

To which Dravid might reply:

Dear Sachin,

I am pleasantly surprised to receive this letter from you.

For a moment, I thought Cyrus’ team from MTV Bakra was back to play another prank on me.

It is indeed sad to not be a part of the Indian dressing room anymore, especially when they schedule twelve Tests in a home season. I wonder what your century tally be if you had one such season!

When Delhi Daredevils played Mumbai Indians recently, it reminded me of our last encounter. It is difficult to play against you anywhere in India and quite frankly I was overwhelmed knowing, whether win or loss, it was the end for us that night. I have heard from many experts that my last innings exemplified my career. But honestly it was an easy decision. Your team had racked up 202 and I felt it was a chase for the next generation. I had had enough of people calling me tuk-tuk anyway!

Speaking of tuk-tuk, I must confess I attribute many of my runs to your presence in the line-up. Having Viru, you and Lax bat around me made my life a lot easier. I hardly ever had to worry about scoring rates and was always happy to play the more unglamorous innings. That approach worked well and brought many runs for me, both home and away. And while I can’t dispute the claim that you were India’s most successful batsman, you can’t take away Adelaide and Kolkata from me.

Look deep into your heart, Sachin — wouldn’t you give up some of your laurels to be the man who took India to those wins? Truth be told, I never really competed with you. In fact, I looked up to you even before I got into the Indian team and our comparison was a creation of the fans and fuelled by the media. Hey, they even celebrated your birthday at the Wankhede – I have never seen an entire stadium sing happy birthday to a cricketer! How could I ever match that? It is farcical that our fans have to abuse each other, and sometimes even us, to prove their point.

The fans’ abuse brings me to the Multan declaration. I had said during the launch of your book, that if I got a rupee for every time I answered a question about Multan, I would be a multi-millionaire. It is disappointing that the cricket world still recalls that incident at the slightest opportunity. You and I know what was at stake in that match and the thoughts behind that decision. For me, what matters is we put it to bed the very next day and completed a historic win over Pakistan. Walking back with the team after that win was a highlight of my captaincy career. I wish everyone had focused on the many match winning partnerships we had before and after that Test.

“While there were agreements and disagreements, everything was for the betterment of the team.” Lax put it beautifully, just like his wristy flicks.

Having said all that, I was disappointed you had to miss my felicitation after retirement. I would have liked to see the man with whom I forged the most successful partnership in Test cricket at my little farewell. I understand your toe wasn’t holding up all that well forcing you to fly out but I wish you had found a way to be there on my special day. Anyway, it is in the past and thankfully the fans and media have moved past it.

I must get back to the boys now, we have a match to prepare for and Paddy doesn’t appreciate latecomers in team meetings.

See you soon.

-Rahul

P.S. – I am on social media via an undisclosed account. I enjoy it occasionally but prefer to keep it a secret. Some day maybe.