Loads of tributes were up on the net, television, radio and every possible media yesterday, and it got me wondering if I should chip in my two cents or probably even lesser. I thought I should not, just be a good reader, after all who am I to comment or even write about the Maestro. I’m no cricket journalist nor have I played the game – I’m just a small fan among the millions, that the game and God have.
But Siddhartha Vaidyanathan – one of the finest young cricket writers I’ve seen and met, goes ahead and writes ‘20 random thoughts from 20 years of Sachin’ (He wrote it on FB – Notes - once I figure how to link it up I’ll put it up); temptation enough for me to come out of my small ‘No post on SachinTwenty’ hibernation. With Siddhartha’s due permission to continue the tag – here goes my list of ’20 random things from 20 years of Sachin’.
Forgive the repetition, if any innings mentioned in Siddharth’s post are referenced below. Most Sachin fans will have at least 5-6 common ones. Those were defining moments for us – a generation that grew up with the Fab Five - Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble.
1) A short young bloke – all of 18 years of age hammered the Pakistani bowling of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Aaqib Javed and Waqar Younis. Some 50 odd off 40 balls and a partnership with Sanjay Manjrekar. I had just started watching the game, he is one of the reasons why my interest in the game has not faded away.
2) 1992: Sydney –148 * and Perth – 114 Vs Aus. India had a disastrous tour down under. Sachin ensured Warne had a forgettable debut . I woke up early every morning along with Papa, to follow his innings live on the radio. I still have the recordings of the highlights. Sachin, according to my mum managed to do the impossible – wake me up in a jiffy without an alarm and her yelling. That mesmerising innings of 114 tops my list of his best knocks. I cannot forget it, that image of him, all of 5ft4in. standing tall and hitting straight drives off the likes of Merv Hughes and McDermott, will never fade away from my memory.
3) His disappointed face after getting out at 88 in Napier in 1990. He was only 16 then. I saw the recording later – I did not know to react! Heck most guys don’t even know what to do in life at that age – and this bloke understood the importance of a 100 in a test match.
4) 59 in his second test against Pak in Pakistan after a bloodbath! Guts, determination, rock solid concentration, man of steel. The nation knew a star was born, the kid knew he had passed the acid test. Still have the newspaper cuttings.
5) 1992-93 tour Vs SA – What I remember is he was given out in one of the ODIs when he was batting well on 20 odd. I cannot recollect the match or the umpire – he was given out caught when he had not edged or gloved the ball. I saw a small tear in the eye of a 19 year old then. The only time I think he reacted as a teenager.
6) I had seen him play live at the stadium before but this one was special. I had bunked school and gone to see him bat. On a dreadful Wankhede pitch, he played a gem of an innings of 85 against the WI in 1994. He showed why he is a class apart. His knock and partnership with Manjrekar – inspired Srinath to play havoc with the bat and ball later.
7) 1994 Vs NZ. The Kamikaze Kid -he was called after that innings hit NZ real hard. 82 of 49 balls which changed the way India approached opening batting in ODIs. I’m glad I was wide wake- I’m glad Papa had the VCR on. I watched that knock a million times later. And again when he got out , he had the regret of not getting the century. That hunger for runs is still alive – 20 years on.
8) Wankhede is the only place where they cheer the fall of Indian wicket; that is until Sachin arrives to bat. They are a fair crowd appreciating a good game, but they are only human and they are hugely flawed when it comes to Mumbai's favourite son.
9) As Siddhartha mentioned in his post – Gods had descended on the cricket field in Cape Town 1996-97 SA tour. Azhar and Sachin had murdered the SA attack in the most delicate manner one could visualize. The array and beauty of the stroked played that afternoon will remain unparalleled for a long time. Adam Bacher pulled a stunner out of mid-air. and Sachin did not move for 2 whole minutes. He was the last to get off the ground – stunned by the catch and not able to believe that his dream run was foiled at 169.
10) 1993 – Hero Cup Semi-final Vs SA. I need not say more – that last over he bowled. His eagerness to come on to bowl when SA needed 6 runs and people call him a choker. Blah!
11) 1998 Vs Australia – Chennai. He hit a first ball 4 of Warne and was out the same over. He was in crackling form and he messed up – the anger showed. The brunt was borne by Aus in the 2nd innings – that 155* will make to any best innings list in the world
12) 1998 Vs Australia – Sharjah. 1998 was his year – his year of complete dominance in world cricket and over Australia. No player has as many runs and centuries as he does against the Big Daddy of international cricket. A reason why he is so loved and revered Down Under. I rate his innings in the league match much higher than the one in the final. India came out to bat needing 8 per over to qualify, after the sandstorm break. Aussies would’ve preferred to have been hit by the sandstorm than the Sachinstorm that hit them later. Again given out erroneously – he wasn’t looking to qualify he was looking to win!
13) 1999 Vs Aus. LBW or HBW ( Hand before wicket). That whole dismissal is replayed a million times in my mind and even after a decade I cannot fathom how weird it was. I hated Daryl Harper for that!
14) 1999 Vs Pak, Chennai – 136. We were in our college following the match on the radio. Cheering and shouting every time he got a run. My heart skipped a beat when he got out and I almost died when we lost the match. I came home mouthing all possible abuses the guys had taught me against those 10 buggers who could not get the balance 49.82% of the victory target. I came home and cried – the only time I recollect doing that after India’s defeat. I know Sachin too cried after that defeat. He proved why he was ‘GOD’ in cricket and a mere mortal like us at the same time.
15) 1999 WC Vs Kenya–England. Grit, courage, determination, concentration, patriot, team player, awesome role model, obedient son. That one moment defined all of that for me in him - Sachin kissed his helmet, looked up and waited a moment, then wiped his eyes and got onto his business of decimating the Kenyan attack. Of all the centuries against all the best attacks – this one is my sentimental favourite. It’s not easy to deal with the loss of a parent and get on with your work in a matter of days. I’ve been through it so I know – not comparable to his feat but I could relate to his psyche then.
16) 2001 Vs Australia – Kolkatta. You cannot keep him away from contributing to famous wins. His 3 wickets in the second innings were as valuable as Laxman and Dravid’s knocks! His delight after getting Warne out to a googly was as innocent as a child getting his favourite chocolate. Sachin remains that little innocent 16 year old still at heart.
17) 2003 WC – 98 Vs Pak. Phenomenal. He slaughtered and butchered the Pakistani bowling and along with what was left of their confidence. He made them mere spectators as he unleashed terror all around. I loved his comment at the presentation – never seen him rub salt on opposition’s wounds so hard – “Well they are yet to beat us in a World Cup”. How true!!
18) His run of 90s in ODIs in 2007 – He would’ve amassed 50 centuries by now had he converted those 6 ( 2 each against Pak,SA, and Eng). I’m not getting any young to handle these heartbreaks, I told my husband then.
19) 103* Vs England , Dec 2008. Following close after the worst terrorist attack on Mumbai – Sachin, Sehwag and the rest gave the country and Mumbaikars a reason to smile. It did not wipe out the scars but it did lift the spirits of millions a little, just a little, but it did. Dilip Premchandran summed it up for us -
“Those that aren't Indian struggle to fathom exactly what Tendulkar means to so many millions, and it's doubtful whether even those that live here really comprehend just how much a part of the national consciousness he has become. He is such a unifying force, a personality capable of stirring the emotions in every nook and corner of a vast land. And in these times of distress and anger, it was so very appropriate that it would be Tendulkar who put the smiles back on at least a few faces.”
Sachin has given us more than 20 reasons to smile and cry in the last 20 years – it’s difficult to sum up only 20.
My favourite quotes to end this tribute:
“I’ve seen God, he bats at no. 4 for India” – Mathew Hayden
“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