Sachin Tendulkar retires from ODIs...we all knew it was bound to happen, but it feels really sad. One of the most illustirous eras in cricket has come to an end.
I had written a long essay on Sachin on a previous Gen Disc thread on Sachin's Birthday...copying it here once again.
After reading DK's essay on Sachin, even I wanted to write one. I am writing everything from memory and not checking the internet for statistics. So, here goes...
I recognised the game called cricket during the Reliance World Cup which was held in 1987 in India. I remember that day when my dad had bunked office to see the India-England semi-finals. Our house was full with cousins and uncles and aunts. The day ended on a gloomy note - India had lost. I asked an older cousin to play with me and was scolded by everyone because they were not in the mood to play. I realised that India losing a cricket match is something to feel sad about.
I started following cricket from then on. I knew the rules of the game pretty well...I knew that 6 runs is the maximum one can score in a ball etc. In 1989, I was watching a random match on TV(I don't remember which was the other team) with my dad and there was this new player - Sachin Tendulkar hitting 6 after 6. I enjoyed his batting and from then on became his fan.
In the 1992 world cup, I saw some decent performances by Sachin, but India crashed out early.
In 1993, India was playing in the semi final of the Hero cup against South Africa. India hit a paltry score (less than 200). SA needed 5 runs off the last over and the entire country was shocked to see Sachin being given the last over. Every heart in India was thumping as he bowled one ball after the other and the country erupted in joy when he saved the match for us. He had a divine power that day...he saved match for us with his bowling skills. I became a crazy Sachin fan.
For a man who has hit the highest number of one-day hundreds the first one came pretty late. I think much after the Hero cup. He seemed to have the nervous 90s even in those days. I remember that scene when he finally did it...it was against Australia. And once he hit that first century, there was no looking back.
The next notable performance was in 1997 I think...when Australia toured India, he blew Shane Warne away. There was a series in Sharjah soon after that, where Sachin hit a century in the middle of a sandstorm to take India into the finals. He hit another century in the final (on his birthday) and won the match and the cup for us. That was probably one of the peaks of his career.
In 1999 there was an India-Pakistan series in India. The first test was in Chennai...India was chasing a 250+total (recalling from memory). in the second innings. We were losing wickets regulalry and it was just Sachin left among the recognised batsmen. He hung in there with an aching back, tried his best but got out after hitting a century. And after that, the result can be guessed. It was a time when Indian batting was over dependent on him. It was one of the most heartbreaking defeats ever.
Then there was the 1999 WC in the middle of which he lost his father. I read an article where he said that India's loss in his absence hurt him more than his father's death. He was soon back from the funeral, he hit a century and looked up to the sky... a very very emotional moment.
I watched the 2003 WC match against Pakistan(which Indian cricket fan would miss that) where he punished Shoiab Akhtar. An unforgettable match again.
After this, I never found time to sit and watch cricket matches on a regular basis, but managed to keep up with the happenings on the internet and newspapers.
This WC, I decided to make time and watch each and every match involving India, because it was in India and could be the last for Sachin. The scene where he was carried around the stadium by his team mates was very touching and a deserving tribute to a wonderful cricketer.
He was always under pressure...his wicket would always trigger a collapse. Yet he handled it.
People would worship him on the day he batted well and criticise him when he hit a bad patch...he handled both with grace.
Never did he get involved in controversies (barring minor ones) or bad behaviour despite being one of the most famous personalities in the world.
It is easy to let the success go into one's head and lose focus- but he hung on for 21 years with a single-minded dedication.
I shall always admire him for all these qualities and thank him for being one of my role models, though I am a much lesser mortal.
Wish him all the best for the future and good health and happiness.
We love you Sachin. Thanks for the memories.