I can summon up nearly every frame of this shot in my mind’s eye, but memory is a tricky thing. I can tell you how this shot was actually three shots in one, a moment of improvisation born of two changes of mind in one delicious instant: a premeditated lap-sweep morphing into a push through cover point before morphing again, with a miraculous twirl of the wrists, into a deft slice past the keeper’s right glove.
I’m watching this innings now because it’s the eve of another India-Australia match in Indore. This match, however, will be played not at the Nehru Stadium but at the newer, larger, purpose-built Holkar Stadium.
A departure from Nehru in more ways than one, that 2014.
Walking around the ground now, it’s impossible to picture Tendulkar or Botham ever having played here. The entire outfield, including what must have been the square, is dry earth that’s crumbly in patches and cracked in others, with barely a tuft of grass.
Cricket endures, nonetheless, though not of the kind that’s covered on this website. A pitch is being rolled out, well off centre, and a group of boys in cricket whites is practising near one edge of the outfield.
Most of the seating is uncovered concrete terraces, and the pavilion is a modest, utilitarian structure with a corrugated concrete roof. It isn’t without charm, though. There are broad swathes of ochre and blue as well as little touches of indigenous architectural flair that modern stadiums often lack – the outer windows, for instance, feature latticework that tussles playfully with the sunlight.
There are nods to history too. You enter the pavilion through a gate named after the swashbuckling Mushtaq Ali. And right outside the stadium is a public park with two notable bits of sculpture.
One is a statue of CK Nayudu, India’s first Test captain. It’s hard to say with any certainty what shot it depicts. Is Nayudu shouldering arms? Or has he picked the spinner’s length in a flash and rocked back and across to cut or maybe pull? Whatever shot it may be, it’s a statue of a cricketer playing cricket – the new one at the Holkar Stadium has him decked up in colonel’s regalia.
The other is the Vijay Balla (Victory Bat), a giant bat commemorating India’s Test-series wins in the West Indies and England in 1971. It features the names of the players who went on the two tours, all in the Devanagari script, and the captain’s jaunty autograph, in English: Ajit Wadekar.
The Victory Bat shows no signs of the defacement now. Instead, it wears a faint and by no means unattractive network of surface cracks, like a Test-match pitch on a fifth morning that begins with all four results still possible. A monument to a monumental achievement, weathering the passage of time with grace.
Nayudu never played at the Nehru Stadium, but he played 27 first-class matches at the Yeshwant Club Ground from 1935 to 1953. The old Yeshwant Club Ground occupied a patch of land that partly coincided with what is now the Holkar Stadium. The pitch on which Nayudu and Mushtaq batted is said to have occupied a space that’s now a lane between the new stadium and the Indore Tennis Club, which abuts the Yeshwant Club.
Time, like Tendulkar’s late-cutting wrists, traces complex paths in Indore.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo