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The Tendulkar days. An memoir.

On 24th April, Sachin Tendulkar will celebrate his 39th birthday while he leads the Mumbai Indians in the fourth edition of IPL.

 




For a man who is in the best form of his life, is at top of his game, has the world at his pedestal, and is in contention for the highest civilian award of the country, what can a fan like me wish him for his birthday?


Answer is simple. Sachin, keep going. We are indebted to you for making 21 years of our life meaningful and giving us a reason to hope and believe.


When I close my eyes and try to run through those magical years of my life, I can not help but look beyond the monumental numbers this man has created, cause statistics are easy to capture in numbers. But what of memories? Words can only aspire to do justice to the couple of decades (and counting!) of memories that Tendulkar has created for us.


To a generation, Sachin has helped us forget our daily miseries, helped us connect with the strangers on the street. This feeling of connect is obvious when somebody asks “Tendulkar kitne pe hai bhaai?”, we go wild in our celebration when he reaches yet another landmark, and look forlorn even if the thought of his retirement crosses our minds.


Let me go back a few years. My earliest memory of a Cricket match is my Gramma used to shout at my cousins for watching gigantic West Indians hurling the red cherry at short statured, pity invoking Indians, who hopped, skipped, and jumped. They did pretty much everything apart from putting the blade to the ball, much to the chagrin of Indian supporters. Then one fine day Kapil paaji ran backwards to claim the catch of his lifetime and cup that we cherished till Dhini did an encore on the Wankhede on 2nd of April.


That day, Kapil reversed the tide in favor of small statured but by now emphatically celebrating Indians. All of eight or something, seeing a bunch of adults going crazy, I assumed that this must be pretty special. Cricket had finally caught up with me and Kapil became the latest addition to 33 Crore gods that Indians revered.


My first super hero Kapil paaji soon had to share my mind space with a little boy with creaky voice who appeared in a commercial alongside him. Almost, of his son’s age, he matched paaji yard to yard in what looked like a quick sprint. When Paaji huffed with a smile “Boost is a secret of my energy”, he completed it without breaking sweat, “Boost is secret of our energy.”That commercial beautifully captured the moment when two generations of Indian Cricket shook their hands to signal the change of batons.


The beginning of end of my first super hero gave way to the birth of my life time super hero. Sachin Tendulkar, or tendlya as I fondly remember calling him, had arrived. Little would he have known then that what he said in that commercial would go on to boost the confidence of a nation that was waking up from its long slumber and propel it to become a super power, both on the field, and off it too.


The Cricketing world took notice of this little sensation when he smacked Abdul Kaadir for four consecutive sixes. If that was his way of announcing his entry on the world stage, it was also the beginning of after school Cricket matches, post match gupshups and crazy hunt for TVs whenever India played a Cricket match. To watch him bat alongside Kambli in initial days made for compelling viewing. Kambli being Kambli, he succumbed to the fame and adulation that most child prodigies fall to, and withered away leaving his old school chum lonely in the big bad world of grown up Cricket. Sachin did not lose heart though and battled it out gamely. He looked down, marked the leg stump guard, and got ready to face yet another delivery from bowlers who stood at least a couple of yards above him. Once he got the first one in Manchester, there was just no looking back.


Like they said in Hutch Commercial- wherever we go, our network follows- whichever country Indians set foot on, Tendulkar scored a century. In terrains as tough as Perth in Australia, as tricky as Napier in New Zealand, and as teasing as Premadasa in Sri Lanka, Sachin scored everywhere, on tracks that teased and turned, or had enough to make the ball dart and bounce.


With his presence in the middle order, the fortune of Indian Cricket was changing for better. Such was the effectiveness of his batting that it made the captains that he played look far better than they actually were. In Sachin’s company, Azhar started attacking like only a nawaab can, strokeless beauty in Siddhu found an assertive expression, and Nayan Mongia walked down the track, a al Tendulkar, to send Shane Warne long and deep over the sight screen. What Tendulkar started off in ’92 on the Perth wicket, culminated into a total dominance of Indians over Australians in the “Dessert Storm” era. The all conquering aussies had found their nemesis in a batsman that the great Don Bradman himself admitted to be playing “pretty much the same way as I did.” Tendulkar was all of 25 then.


Tendulkar’s free flowing, attacking style and sheer dominance was one of the biggest factors in getting more crowds to the stadium- be it tests or ODIs, and now the IPL. He was the batsman a layman paid his day’s wages to visit the stadium for the first time. He was the wicket bowlers desperately prayed for. When all others around him were failing, he was the one we kept our TVs on for. His enduring battles with the likes of Warne, McGrath, DeVillers, Donald, Caddick, Brett Lee, and Akhtar were the single biggest draw for a Cricket lover.


Henry Olonga’s only claim to fame is the short ball that got Tendulkar by surprise and the silent assault that Tendulkar subjected him to in the very next game. Poor Heath Davis ran truck loads of sweat and took an eternity to complete an over when Tendulkar was on full song on a balmy Bangalore night. When Caddick got a little too sure of Tendulkar’s weakness (any, if at all) and proclaimed that he had got the measure of the master, Tendulkar came a step down and hooked him to the farthest corner of the ground. When all seemed lost, Azhar joined forces with Tendulkar to show the battery of Donald, McMillan, and Snail that there was more to Indian batting than just the elegance. However hard he may have tried, Akram, that sultan of swing, could not come up with an answer to Tendulkar’s dominance in the epic 2003 world cup semi final.


For a long time now, whenever he is at crease, Tendulkar threatens to alter the very definition of Cricket, of it being a team game. It’s the battle within the battle that really pulls the fans inside the stadiums. Fans from across the nations, across cultures, who speak different languages, wear different clothes, and revere different gods, find a common unifying chord and sway to the tune of “Saaaachin, Saaachin, Saaachin…” Amidst that rising crescendo, master himself looks a picture of absolute calm, hiding a steely resolve beneath the aura of absolute invincibility.


As the decade of nineties came to a conclusion and moved into the first decade of the 21st century, players like Saurav, Rahul, and Anil joined forces with Sachin to give birth to a Indian team that could challenge any team, on any turf. The advent of instant Cricket and the young brigade led by Maahi led India to a position that no one would have thought of in the Kapil era. A lot has changed between the day Kapil lifted the cup in 1983 and Sachin looked heavenwards for his 50th century and rode young Virat’s shoulders to a victory lap a few days back.


Captains came and went, injuries occurred and healed, the impetuous hook gave way to calculated graft, the overt aggression changed into an insatiable appetite for perfection, why just that, an underdeveloped third world country grew on to become a worldly wise confident Indian state. For me, Tendulkar lives beyond numbers. He lives in the confines of my being. In my prayers, every time I bow to almighty- to thank him for all the joy that surrounds me and giving me the courage to dream on.




 PS: This article was first published at *www.holdingwilley.com* (http://www.holdingwilley.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1768)
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Latest comments

. For me, Tendulkar lives beyond numbers. He lives in the confines of my being

Amazing statement. Lovely article, BTW :D Really enjoyed it.
Poshin on 26 Apr 2011, 06:33 AM
happy birthday to the little master.
khetan123 on 25 Apr 2011, 10:06 AM
at top of his game
saurabh235 on 25 Apr 2011, 01:50 AM
Sachin, keep goin!!!love india!
saurabh235 on 25 Apr 2011, 01:49 AM
Tendulkar lives beyond numbers!!!
saurabh235 on 25 Apr 2011, 01:49 AM
Boost is a secret of my energy
saurabh235 on 25 Apr 2011, 01:48 AM
Sachin scored everywhere
saurabh235 on 25 Apr 2011, 01:47 AM
happy birthday to the master anyways!!
Batty on 25 Apr 2011, 01:23 AM
This is rather too long to read
Batty on 25 Apr 2011, 01:22 AM
Anyway happy birthday sachin..
spmbharani on 25 Apr 2011, 12:28 AM
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