You single-handedly demolished Lanka in that 1999 world cup league match. Your 183 was enough for me to subscribe to cricket forever and spend rest of my life as your 'fan'.
You took on the reins of Indian team when its ship was rocked by a devastating fixing scandal. Like a meticulous potter, you molded this team into a 'team' from a mere bunch of talented cricketers. You emerged as a feisty leader, a fiery spokesman and a remarkable motivator. You gifted India with the likes of Zaheer, Harbhajan and Sehwag. That fist of yours, with a sacred thread around it, resembled the new India, ready & willing to kick some ass.
You were the first Indian to get inside the skin of the Australians. Sadly, Steve Waugh would never add you as a friend on Facebook.
Then came that fateful day of March 2003. Having spearheaded India's brilliant campaign in the world cup, you had every right to romance that trophy. You had spent sleepless nights, given your heart and soul for this very occasion.
But history missed a tryst with you. It was a terrible loss. Indians can never forget it.
Destiny was also harsh on the other two of the famed troika. Thankfully, one of the them is still there, with his head held high and bat firmly in his hand, to settle the scores. And I am sure, he will play for his pride, his opening-mate's revenge and most importantly, for the hopes of a billion of fans.
Time has given us a chance. They are not as fearsome as they were in 2003, but it neither washes away their sins nor does it undermine the seriousness of the ambition. Their brutal conquest, is what I seek.
Your career was spectacular, but these aussies deprived you of a jewel in the crown. You don't say it, but I know and can feel your pain.
I wish India to win tomorrow's game for your sake. I wish your ex-opening-mate slaps every Aussie bowler with his batting genius. For me, 'half the cup would be full' by "Aussie Conquest" on March 24, 2010.