Sachin, kaun hai yeh Sachin?

India Infoline News Service | Mumbai |

A gentleman of the game, he has given us hours and hours of joy when he is on the field and maintained his poise on and off the field with his politeness, dignity and decency.

One of the greatest Indian cricketers has retired. It was an emotional moment and his touching speech brought tear to almost everyone who listened/ read the living legend. With this an era comes to an end as Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (SRT), has taken a bow. Thank God his brother Ajit got him introduced to cricket. Else, from what I read, Sachin was,  kind of a bully in his childhood, and was more inclined not just to tennis but also to, hold your breath, behave like John McEnroe.

A gentleman of the game, he has given us hours and hours of joy, He has maintained his poise on and off the field with dignity and decency. He started his career when India was still in the license raj / permit raj. He witnessed use of technology – first person to be given run out by third umpire and the advent of T20 and IPL which take off in a very big way. He was a part of the process of how India became a super power in cricket. Websites, papers people are talking about their favourite Sachin moments. Reams of newsprint and digital space have been used up. Two articles worth reading even for the cricket ignorant include a piece in The Economist and Mukal Kesavan’s article in cricinfo on Sachin.

I have been a big fan of SRT right from the day he hit Abdul Qadir out of the ground in Pakistan. Though there exists little age gap between us, we always called him a bachcha in our hostel when we used to crowd together to watch cricket in the common room. For us, his clearly was the star act. In the Sydney match during Tendulkar’s maiden Australian tour in the early 90s, his century over shadowed Ravi Shastri double century. And incidentally, Shane Warne made his Test debut in the same match.

I am a big fan of Sunny Gavaskar (SMG) too. Though people complain about Gavaskar being selfish etc, he was a batsman par excellence. I also feel Gavaskar faced a quality of bowling which was far superior to what Sachin may have played. Gavaskar played the famous West Indies quartet, took on Imran Khan at his peak and Thommo in Australia. Apart from Lillee, Gavaskar had an extraordinary track record against all of them. Apart from the Pakistani Ws, Shoab Akthar and may be Donald and Dale Steyn of South Africa, Sachin did not play against quality pace bowling. Glen Mcgrath was not a terrorising fast bowler in the class of Thommo/ Lillee. Anybody who has not seen terrorising fast bowling should watch the movie Fire in Babylon which is a well made British documentary film about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s. The rules of the game are more in favour of the batsmen now. We have seen many great chases and the bowlers, no matter how good they may be, often get mercilessly hammered all around the stadium and in some cases the ball is sent outside the stadium. For the record, in the 1992 World Cup, Curtly Ambrose sorted him out in 6 balls. And Sachin has not seen Garner, Roberts, Holding and Marshall.

I have always asked people, who is a better batsman SRT or SMG? In my opinion, SMG was better because he faced fast bowlers without wearing helmet and to best of knowledge no fast bowler has ever touched him. Many times Sachin has got hit on his body by lesser bowlers. I have asked same question to bigger followers of the game, Mudar Patherya and Ramchandhra Guha. Both of them without batting an eyelid and without thinking voted for SRT and the key factors were longevity, multiple formats and handling hopes of a billion plus in a televised day and age.

My favourite Sachin Tendulkar moments include the final over against South Africa in the Hero Cup semi final. A person has to be really confident that even if India loses, nothing will really happen to him. South Africa needed 6 runs to win in the last over. No other bowler had the guts to take on the responsibility. Even after years, the famous Javed Miandad sixer of Chetan Sharma’s last ball kept haunting even the spectators. Tendulkar took the ball from Azharuddin and bowled a magical over. I will not mention his well-known innings against Shoaib Akthar in the World Cup but the other Sachin moment is the treatment meted out to Saqlain Mushtaq in the Asia Cup in Dacca. I saw all matches in the tournament and his batting was brilliant – he took everyone to the cleaners. That was yet another Desert Storm kind of batting.  

The moment etched in my memory is far away from the public glare and TV cameras. I was on a vacation in Jaipur and everybody was talking about Sachin’s presence in the town. He had come to shoot for a commercial and on the way back it so happened that we were on the same flight. I was dying to shake hands with him and click a picture but my wife resisted and ensured that we did not intrude in his privacy. I was watching him and his family from a distance. Almost every official in the airport went to him and the great man was patiently smiling and giving autographs. On the way back in the airport bus in Mumbai, an elderly lady, more like a grand-mother types, got in.  Sachin immediately got up and offered his seat to the lady. The lady sat down and her entire family including her grand children were telling her that Sachin vacated his seat for her. The old lady hearing her family enquired in a not so soft voice, Sachin, kaun hai yeh Sachin? And the great man just smiled.
 

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