Just as a century Tendulkar made our day as a dismissal ruined it, flashing images of a Messi goal the night before could see us through the drudgery of the daily office routine. And now, as Messi approaches the biggest milestone of his decade-and-a-half career, we find similarities to the moment Tendulkar himself said was his highlight: winning the 2011 ODI World Cup.
It was Tendulkar’s sixth World Cup while it is Messi’s fifth. But before the two events, the world knew it would be the last chance for both Little Masters. The two had been through some incredible ups and downs in the quadrennial centerpiece before their final dance. Tendulkar made the 2003 final in South Africa and was man of the tournament, but lost to Australia in the final. Messi’s stay in the title round dates back to 2014, when he was stopped by Germany. The Ballon d’Or was small consolation for his efforts.
Tendulkar’s humiliation at the 2007 World Cup, when India were ousted in the first round, was similar to Messi’s forgettable departure in 2018 in the second round. It was thought that the two might not get another chance, but life had different scripts written for them.
If we go back to the 2011 World Cup, the similarities between Tendulkar’s run and Messi’s run are almost uncanny. India had lost a group game against South Africa after Tendulkar scored a century just like that Argentina faltered against Saudi Arabia despite Messi’s goal.
As the tournament wore on, Tendulkar focused on playing one crucial hand after another – half a century against Australia in the quarters and a winning 85 that earned him the man of the game award. semi-final match against Pakistan. Compare that to Messi: he scored one and set one up with a sublime assist in the quarters against the Netherlands while in the semis it was his brilliant run in front Josko Gvardiol who helped him win the Man of the Match award after converting a penalty to register his fifth goal of the tournament.
What little luck Tendulkar had in that Mohali semi-final is also similar to Messi’s – a seemingly plumb leg before being knocked down by DRS as Argentina were awarded the penalty they didn’t. might not have gotten another day.
Another notable feature of both trips was the role played by their team members. Julian Alvarez in Qatar was as spectacular as Yuvraj Singh in 2011, making crucial contributions time and time again. “We want to win the World Cup for one man and that’s Sachin Tendulkar,” Yuvraj said after winning the man of the match in Chennai against West Indies. The Argentine players have said time and time again that this is a World Cup they owe to the left-footed magician.
Everything seems written in the stars and we probably won’t be surprised if Messi has a quiet final on Sunday – a la Tendulkar at Wankhede – but Argentina have reached their final destination, making it a brilliant twilight for Messi.