“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives– BBC Sports, on Sachin Tendulkar.”
This tribute is to the man I admire most, the man from whom I picked up cricket as a sport-playing, watching and even imitating to some extent. The Super Man from India, the Little Master-Sachin Tendulkar.
As a kid, used to imitate him taking guard while practicing batting,sometimes people around me used to wonder what am I doing as I used to do it so often. Then went on to emulate the same in the form of HIS Boost ad role-play in a local fancy dress competition dressing up like him. Reminiscing now, realising how funny it was 🙂 Back then, Doordarshan (DD1) was the only source of cricket viewing. Vividly remember many adventures tweaking the direction of the antenna as the TV screen used to go blur when it rained or any other disturance.
I was over the moon when was able to watch HIM for whole 10 minutes standing in front of HIS car when he was in my native for a function.
Back story: We (with 2 of my cousins in a bike doing triple riding) followed HIS car after greeting him in middle of the road when no person in the locality had any clue about his arrival. We had to give up the chase in between as HIS car was speeding up. As luck would have it, HIS car stopped at petrol pump on our way to our home. Didn’t get a chance to get his autograph but was ecstatic to see him from very close quarters. A wave of HIS hand before leaving is something which I cannot forget. Since that day, we call that petrol pump as Tendulkar petrol pump. 🙂 That was the time when he was making a comeback after career threatening tennis elbow injury. Was elated to see him score century in next couple of matches and stamp his authority over bowlers.
There was something about HIS batting which gives nothing but sheer pleasure. Whether it’s dancing down the track and hitting say a Shane Warne (who can forget Sand Storm in Sharjah 98?) for a six and in turn giving the bowler a nightmare even in his sleep or premeditating a bouncer from a fast bowler like McGrath or for that matter a Andy Caddick (Remember 2003 WC Ind/Eng league match?) and hitting a hook shot. In Centurion 2003, Tendulkar’s upper cut to Shoaib Akhtar to hit a magnificent six and then guiding India to win is part of a folklore now. HE had all the time in the world to guide a high pitched ball from a bowler like Brett Lee over wicket keeper’s head by a perfectly executed shot fetching nothing less than six. Not to forget the exquisite timing involved in a text book stuff cover drive or a square cut for that matter. Rarely missed a leg glance when the ball was pitched middle and leg or a paddle sweep for a spinning ball towards HIS legs. Playing according to the field was HIS forte and don’t find any batsman play a straight drive as he does. HIS straight drive with full face of the bat, also HIS straight sixes of Shane Warne and others are as straight as it gets and out of fashion as he has retired now.
Then came the moment to score first 200 in ODI history and it was only fitting for HIM to do it. I was serving for Infy as a trainee in Mysore then. As he was inching towards this unbelievable milestone, got myself a forced break from training session. Since there was no TV access at the lecture hall & going back to hostel dorm was not a good idea as I would loose crucial 20 minutes, got into a call for around 30 minutes hearing the updates and getting expert commentary from my cousin bashing Dhoni for not giving enough strike to the Master. In a span of his career he has given sheer pleasure and tremendous joy by his batting in spite of carrying burden of billion people expectations right through his career. For 90’s kids, it was sense of assurance that the game is in our grasp when Tendulkar was batting and many would switch off their TV when he got out. Just for a moment think you are Tendulkar and you’re coming into bat amidst cheering fans hoping you score in that critical juncture of the match. More often than not you would get bogged down and succumb to the pressure and fail to show your application but not Tendulkar. If HIS batting was nightmare to the opposition he looked ominous with the ball too. He could do off spin, leg spin and medium pace depending on the batsman and match situation. Most of the time, he would get vicious spin and batsman failed to pick him often when it was pitched in line with the stump. He has won us many game with his bowling too.Remember his last over against South Africa in 93 Hero Cup? Apart from this, a great fielder and was good slip catcher. In short, he was a cricketer’s guide to be a champion batsman, effective bowler and a better fielder.
Off the field he was a gentleman and had a great influence over his team mates by his mere presence. He has achieved so many things which no can ever think off but still he looks like same young man who is hunger for success and better himself.Before him we had Sunil Gavaskar who was too good and when the last generation thought there will be no Indian cricketer like him we got Sachin Tendulkar who captured the imagination of my generation. In that terms, we are very lucky to witness his brilliance in his whole career. As he has retired now it pains to write in retrospect rather than introspection. Now that he has retired, we have found someone special who can fit the bill in the near future if he performs well and maintains his class-Virat Kohli. If Virat Kohli is special, Sunil Gavaskar was brilliant during those days of West Indies domination batting without a helmet, Sachin Tendulkar was something else. A place and stature which no one can match.