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Who Are These Guys?

So asked Robert Redford of Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, referring to the relentless posse which is chasing them across the American West (and finally to Bolivia)

Who <i>Are</i> These Guys?
AP
Who Are These Guys?
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I mean, what the hell. Is this Australian team human? Why don’t they even notice that they don’t have the Waughs with them, nor the Warne or the Gillespie? What are those chips in their heads that are programmed to terminate, with extreme prejudice, any thought that veers remotely close to a dirty five-letter word which starts with a "d", has a silent "b" and ends with a "t"? Do these guys, like, worry? Does any of them, you know, ever belch? Does Darrel Lehmann, for instance, think about his hair? Does Ricky Ponting look into the mirror and feel vaguely uneasy that he is, from certain angles, looking like George W. Bush? When you get a sliver of a chance, and you have just one stump in your sight, do they ever consider the possibility that they could miss?

But sitting on a Delhi rooftop an hour after the last ball has been bowled, looking out over a quiet city, as I type these 350 words out, I feel that these yellow-clad men are no gods. Of course, they are the most consistently great team in cricket history, but they can be beaten, They could have been beaten, even on February 23. They dropped catches, we didn’t drop any. The twist, of course, is that they didn’t give us any catches to drop. Because we bowled badly. Any team which gives 109 runs in the last 10 overs has no chance of winning. We bowled fulltoss after fulltoss at them and they despatched them with relish. We screwed up. They didn’t do anything special. It was we who let them win.

And they know it too. There are two teams in the cricketing world now: Australia and India. And then there is the rest, the also-rans. This is the new world order, and our young heroes -- they are so so so young -- have now learnt something precious, something invaluable. That everybody has clay feet. The professionals and the artists, the hard-boiled and the aesthetes. The average age of this Indian team is 25. 25, for God’s sake! Their story has only begun.

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