Mumbai, Apr 24: The difference between Sachin Tendulkar's 34th birthday and his 35th, which he celebrates on Thursday, could not be starker.
One year ago the master batsman, considered to be among the all-time greats of the game and perhaps next only to Don Bradman in stature as a pure batsman, was distraught following India's early and shameful exit from the World Cup and celebrated his birthday quietly at his home with his family.
It was a dismal time for Indian cricket as a whole in the aftermath of the disastrous World Cup where the much-hype team led by Rahul Dravid was eliminated in the first round.
Tendulkar, true to his fashion, lifted himself as well as the country's cricket from that low by making his bat talk loud in England and Australia to play a leading role in the campaigns in both countries, the oldest rivals in international cricket.
The stalwart contributed mightily to the team's Test and ODI victory in Old Blighty as well as a first-ever triumph in the tri-series Down Under after helping India match the world champions step for step in the acrimonous Test series that they lost narrowly to the hosts after a rip-roaring battle.
The ace batsman, who in the process also increased his century count to 39 in Tests and 42 in ODIs, besides overtaking Sri Lankan ace Sanath Jayasuriya as the leading run-getter in the 50-over game, has truly bounced back in style after some critics wrote his epitaph in the aftermath of India's dismal display in the World Cup in the Caribbean.