24th April has always been a special day for a long time. 50 years ago, this day a child with superhuman abilities was born in Mumbai and went on to capture the hearts of millions of cricket enthusiasts across the world and ruled the sport for 3 decades. He broke multi records some of which I doubt anyone would break in the near future. He changed the way cricket was played in India and inspired many to take up the sport and batting in particular. His name is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
My first memory of Sachin was the 1992 world cup in the classic retro jersey. I was hardly 5 years old then so this did not feel big to me. But it was in 1993 that I took a liking to this genius when he bowled the defended 6 runs in the final over to lead India to the finals. I instantly took a liking to him. To me, he was everything. I remember when I played badminton against a tall opponent, my sir asked him if I can manage, I confidently responded that if Sachin a guy who was hardly 5 foot 5 inches can not only play Curtly Ambrose who was standing tall at 6.5 feet so could I play well against a taller guy as well. Such was the mark he left upon me.
My joy was unbound when my father took me to watch him live at the famous Chepauk – MA Chidambaram Stadium to watch a test match against Australia. To watch him take the battle to the dominant Aussies was extra special for a 9-year-old me. Over the years, my love and admiration for my hero went up leaps and bounds. There was a period where if Sachin got out, millions of TVs around the country would be turned off and when he played the time would freeze. I used to sit in front of my prayer room when he plays and would pray for him to score a century and lead India to victory when he plays.
Here is a glimpse of some of my favourite events featuring Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
Most Favorite Moment: A 22-year-old dream was fulfilled when Ravi Shastri screamed in the commentary box – Dhoni finishes off in style, and Sachin lifted the world cup finally after 5 unsuccessful attempts. I was going crazy at my friend’s place. Little did I realize that I was welling up and tears of joy rolled down my cheek.
Most Favorite Shot: Sachin can play every shot in the book. The classic cover drive on the up against Wasim Akram, the uppercut against Shoaib Akhtar, the pull shot against Andrew Caddik or the glance down to the fine leg boundary but the shot that stood out the most for me was his trademark straight drive. According to me, no one can play it better than the great master blaster. My celebrations went wild when I saw him play this shot from D stand MAC, the perfect stand for viewing this shot, the crowd just stood up and applauded the shot for sometime.
Favourite Century: It is a hard task picking 1 from his 100 hundred. But to me, it would always be his century against Sharjah in 1998 which is famously known as the Desert Storm innings. He took the fight to the Aussies who were otherwise considered undefeatable. He believed in himself and single-handedly took India to the finals and scored another century to help India lift the trophy. 1998 stamped his authority as the best One Day International player to have played the game. Virat Kohli is the closest to the legend in matching his records and stands a chance to beat his ODI records.
Favourite Wicket: Sachin was pretty handy with the ball as mentioned in the introduction. He claims that he wanted to be a fast bowler and thanks to the MRF Pace Foundation, he quit that dream. My initial memory of him was bowling right-arm medium but then switched to Right Arm Spin. To me, the best wicket he took was that of Moin Khan on a flat Multan pitch that offered nothing for the bowler. This changed the course of the match.
Favourite Innings: This is a toughie but I am going to go with the innings at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) where he scored an unbeaten 241. What made this knock extra special is that he did not play a cover drive that entire innings despite being teased by the bowlers. It is very tough for a batsman to restrain for that long but he had the grit and the patience to avoid that shot that caused his downfall in the previous matches.
Sachin the Leader: Sachin never had a great tenure as the captain of India which is something that I wish he had. But no one is 100% and if it was not meant for him, so be it. But he carried along well playing under different captains. His input was keenly listened to by everyone on the team. Had it not been for him and other seniors, India would have not got its greatest captain in its Men’s cricket history, MS Dhoni. He conducted himself very well on and off the field leading by example for the younger generations. His recalling Ian Bell after being run out is one of the best cricketing leadership moments I have seen.
Happy Birthday to the Genius who taught billions across the world to dream and lead the way. May you continue to spread smile across the faces of your fans for many more years to come. SACHIN SACHIN will forever be ringing in our ears.