Tharoor's point was simple: Sreesanth's remarkable one-ball, one-shot, shimmying demolition of the big bullying South African cricketer Andre Nel said something about the new face of India: confident, unwilling to back away from a challenge, sure of itself.
And I believe much of that is true, and it can only be a good thing.
But then India loses a cricket match, even two. Immediately, people who are referred to as "fans" set off to throw stones at cricketers' properties, hold slogan-shouting protests outside cricketers' homes, blacken cricketers' images, burn cricketers' effigies. (DNA reports that even his neighbours participated in demonstrations outside Sachin Tendulkar's home). Less demonstrative people -- me included -- have written enormous amounts already, analysing what has happened: some call it a failure, some worse. (A failure? Are we referring to the same guys who even pulled off magnificent Test triumphs over the best teams in cricket not so long ago?)
Yep, all that has happened, and who knows what else is in store, after India's loss to Sri Lanka in the World Cup.
So I wonder. If Sreesanth's attitude and energy speak to us of a new India, what do these "fan" reactions speak to us of? If we cannot understand that losses are part of sport as wins are, where is that confidence and spirit?
In 1895, in perhaps his most famous poem, a man born and raised in this same India wrote these lines:
- If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same ...
... you'll be a Man, my son!