Let me confess! This note is most likely to be greeted with a “Oh no! Not again! Not one more!" But then everyone has a Sachin Tendulkar story which is unique in its own right. With a unique feeling, a unique emotion, a unique flavor. I venture into this exercise on the hope that the multitude of Cricket fans will continue to show an insatiable hunger for the ‘Little Master’. And anyway, like it or not our hero is likely to be the staple diet for a few months to come!
Old folks like me, the 80s generation relate to Sachin in a way which is difficult for the gen-nexts to comprehend fully. To give you just a peep, men of my time consider Sachin the Great Liberator of Indian Cricket at par with the Great Liberalization of the Indian Economy in ’91, just two years after Sachin made his international debut. His fearless approach to batting cloaked with a right amount of technical expertise was at par with recovering the family gold that was pledged by the then Government of India to bail out the floundering Indian Economy. I hope the enormity of the shadow of Sachin’s persona on our lives is established for your understanding, in its entirety.
Gaddaffi Stadium, Lahore in ’89 was the scene where my first memory of the Sachin Impact in my life and on the world of Cricket is sourced from. Sanjay Manjrekar was batting well and was on his way to his first and only double century in Tests. As the Pakistani bowlers struggled to dislodge the Indians, it appeared that the wily Pakistani Captain, Imran Khan was allowing things to drift. For a team loaded with fast bowlers, there was a strange reluctance on Imran’s part to take the new ball which was due eons ago. The equally cheeky and cunning, Javed Miandad’s questioning of the decision brought no response from the captain. Finally fed up with the drift, Miandad confronted Imran on his strange tactics and demanded an answer. From here I will let the reporter covering the game for The Sportstar take over. “Sanjay is already nearing his double and will be out sooner than later. I am reserving the new ball for the chotu who is due to come in next!” No points for guessing who the ‘chotu’ was! And the Imran retort is supposed to have shut up the usual motor mouth Javed Miandad for good! For the record the ‘chotu’ braved the new ball and finally fell to Abdul Qadir for a modest but well made forty one.
A few years ago I had to take the Mrs to a Bone & Joint clinic in Bangalore as she was complaining of a constant and seething pain in her elbow which no pain killer seemed to cure. After mandatory tests, X-Rays etc, the sagely specialist came to the diagnosis. “She is suffering from Tennis Elbow. The same injury as……..SACHIN TENDULKAR!” The last two words were spoken by him and me in tandem. From that moment the Specialist and I traded places. “I know she must not pick heavy objects like Sachin picks his bat. She should not strain the hand with sudden and swift movements like Sachin does to play the copy book cover drive. She has to give the elbow a lot of rest for nature to cure it in due course unlike Sachin who rushed it!” Post my monologue the specialist nodded in agreement and presented the bill!
The setting was the Eden Gardens in 93/94 for the Hero Cup Semis against South Africa. Self was perched upon the student’s stand. (To the uninitiated the stand for whose tickets you have to queue up at the box office for at least 24-36 hours in those days. Welcome!) Batting first India finished with a less than respectable 193, our man contributing a sedate 15 of 31 balls batting in the middle order. Post the effort, Sachin disappeared from our collective conscious till his dramatic re-entry in last over of the match. With SA needing 6 runs to win we in the gallery were wondering who would turn out to be India’s match-ka-mujrim. As expected the on field think tank lead by Captain Azharuddin and everyone else were involved in a meeting which would rival an India-Pakistan dialogue over nuclear disarmament. The student’s stand was rife with rumours that the senior bowlers Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar and Javagal Srinath were looking at plausible excuses to not bowl that critical over. You know how we young rumour mongers are! Craning our necks to try and catch the meeting, we presumed or assumed that Sachin had jumped into the middle, snatched the ball and is supposed to have said “main dalega!” Irrespective of whether there was any substance in the rumour or not, Sachin bowled and India won! Eden Gardens those days had cement benches for seats which needless to add were covered with layers of dust. The practice among Eden regulars was to carry loads of newspaper which were laid on the benches and you then sat on it. Same was the story that evening. Post the war cry which announced India’s win, Eden Gardens paid tribute to Sachin that night in a very unique manner. The newspapers were rolled and converted into makeshift torches which were lit up, across all the stands! I know you are wondering how Sachin would have said those immortal words, “main dalega”. Well, we will not disappoint you! In fact we will let Rahul Dravid tell you how!
PS: Dear @ThankUAchrekar/@IndianMourinho: You asked for it Mate! Hope this didn’t give you too much torture!
Chotu: Kid, Baby
Match ka Mujrim: Culprit who lost the match.
Main Dalega : I will bowl.
Main Dalega : I will bowl.