(Article dedicated to the biggest icon in the world of cricket)
It was in the winter of 89, when a curly haired 16 year old boy made into the headlines in India, when he played a test series against Pakistan in Pakistan. 20 years later, he is still around, although past his glory days but still he is the best among the lot. Yes, it is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, a name synonymous to cricket in entire India. As they say, Cricket is a religion in India and Tendulkar is God. I feel gifted to have witnessed this guy's heroics in last 20 years.
Over the last 20 years he has remained the same guy, although his game has gone under some change. He is the same shy guy, who is so humble. There is no arrogance in what-so-ever he does/speaks on the field or off the field. In this era of "breaking & faking" news, he has provided the news for all right reasons & never for any kind of gossips. Kudos.
Here are some of his performances/incidents which is difficult for me to forget even in my dreams:
- He was just 16 year old, probably playing his first one day match (although it was an unofficial exhibition match). He hoisted Abdul Qadir (who at that time was one of the leg spin greats) for 3 sixes in a single over. Wow, it was the first impact of Tendulkar on me.
- Tendulkar getting hit by a bouncer in the nose & bleeding profusely & walking back without any expression of shock/angry/pain. He was just 16 years then & the Pak legend Imran asked his bowlers to target Tendulkar with bouncers to scare him off.
- Little later, back in Newzealand, Tendulkar was on 80 not out in a test match, on day 1. He just needed another 20 runs next day to become the youngest ever cricket player in the history of Cricket to score a century. I almost had a sleepless night that day & woke up early morning to find out that Tendulkar was out for 88. Oh what a disappointment.
- The first test ton in England, when he was around 17 years. Amazing, I still remember those radio commentary when he scored the first century. It was just the beginning. I have had the opportunity to cherish more than 85 such instances in last two decades.
- Some years later, back in Newzealand again, Tendulkar changed the name of the game. Those were the days when a 50 run made out of 80 balls was very respectable score in a one day match. In one particular match, Tendulkar decided to open the innings & scored 84 runs from 48 balls. Wow, the commentators were going crazy, this was something they had never seen & never thought it as a possibility.
- Kolkotta, 1993. SA touring India. SA needed 4 runs to win with One over to spare. Tendulkar bowled a magical last over to give India an unimaginable win.
- Tendulkar going back to England soon after his father's death to play in the world cup & come up with a Century. It was almost like a Pete-Sampras once winning Wimbeldon crying through the match.
- Best players reserve the best play against the best teams. Tendulkar has never let a chance to outplay Aussies, be it in India, be it in Dubai (those two consecutive centuries back to back), be in Aussie itself.
- Just imagine, Tendulkar has played with greats like Kapil for a long time and now he is playing with players who were just born when he entered into international cricket. No wonder he is called the Grandpa of cricket now.
I can go on, on & on. There are also critics of Tendulkar, but it has made him only stronger. Let there be more critics, let Tendulkar become even more strong and let him play for many more years to come, which the ardent fans like me will enjoy. He is truly once a generation player & I want to watch him play many more times. Thank you Tendulkar for all your magic.