Paradigm shift is a term I heard first in B-School, about a year after that Eden Gardens Test of 2001. In many ways, that win changed a lot about Indian cricket and all that is well documented. It, or rather the moment I came back from an exam to find Dravid and Laxman still batting on Day 4, also rewired my brain.
That day I had an Environmental Sciences exam, and as soon as it got over at around four in the afternoon, a friend and I raced back on our bikes to his house (it was closer than mine was) to catch up with what had happened in the game. We had left in morning before play had started for Day 4. He switched on the tiny B&W TV and as its cathode ray tube monitor flickered to life the first bit that got illuminated was the top right hand corner. I could barely read the numbers that seemed to 63-4. I screamed out at my friend who was changing in the other room ‘Dude! Looks like Australia are four down already!!’ By then the whole screen had come to life and I struggled to process what I was seeing. Dravid and Laxman were STILL batting and the score was India 363-4 not Australia 63-4.
The astonishing thing is that my brain, of all the possibilities it considered, had not in that instant even remotely toyed with the idea that they could bat the whole day. This was a true Black Swan event unfolding that would forever change the way I would think about test matches featuring India from then on. It completely shifted the frames of reference and upended all expectations I had conditioned myself to as an Indian fan growing up in the 1990s.
That this 2001 test scripted a new chapter for Indian cricket is not a tired sports writers’ cliche. I can testify as a fan that, it indeed fits that other cliche – A Paradigm Shift.