By Mehul Gala:
Legend! Genius! Champion! Maestro! Many sports personalities were associated with these adjectives but none of them was ever worshiped as ‘God‘. None of them ever carried the expectations of a ‘Billion‘ people on their shoulder. Possessing exceptional talent is one thing but converting it into performances consistently over 24 years is another. Such is the legend of the ‘super‘ man from India.
Yes, you guessed it right. I am talking about Sachin Tendulkar.
Not many get opportunities to live their childhood dream, certainly not when you fail in your 10th Standard board examination. The person I would like to thank the most is the paper setter of English subject in year of 1988. The country lost a potential doctor or engineer but a 16 year old boy got a chance to do what he loved to do.
One year later, that boy was making his debut against Pakistan on the green top wicket of Rawalpindi to face one the finest bowling attacks in world cricket. Pakistani cricketers laughed when they saw a 16 year old school going kid walking to take the guard. Imran Khan, the captain of Pakistan, told Waqar “Thoda dheere se daalna, bachhe ko lag na jaye“. Two balls later, Waqar bowled a bouncer which hit Sachin’s nose. It started bleeding. Many thought that he would go back to the dressing room but he stood there fearlessly and scored a fighting 50. An interviewer asked him “Were you not afraid to face Wasim and Waqar?” He replied “Yes, I was but that fear got me going.”
After end of day’s play, Sachin locked himself in his hotel room and cried. He thought he would not survive in international cricket. But when going gets tough, the tough gets going. He woke up the next morning at 5 am and practiced for 3 hours. “If you never failed, you never lived. The key is how quickly you can bounce back from your failures.” were the words of Sachin Tendulkar after recollecting that incident.
In the era where sports was not considered as a career option, finance minister Manmohan Singh was yet to reform the Indian economy, Pepsi was yet to sponsor the Indian cricket team, Sahara group was yet to promote major sports in India, a man driven by his passion became the biggest superstar of Indian sports. He became the role model for the generations to come.
Sachin’s batting technique became a copybook for cricket. His steady head while playing straight drives, his balance while playing cover drives, his wristy flick while playing balls on the pads, his footwork against the spinners, his every cricketing shot was making a manual for younger players. He perfected the art of batting and went on to pile on runs in every international cricket destinations.
In this journey, he played some of the all time great innings. ‘SandStorm‘ against Aussies in Sharjahah, first man on the planet to reach 200 in ODIs, an emotional 100 in 1999 world cup a day after his father’s death, 98 against Pakistan in 2003 world cup including a six of Shoaib Akhtar’s bowling over 3rd man, an emotional 100 in the run chase against England giving tribute to 26/11 Mumbai attacks victims. The list goes on and on. His records alone can make a 300 page book.
There were days when entire Indian cricket team’s batting was dependent on Sachin. The entire country remained closed for 2 reasons. One to watch Mahabharat and second to watch Sachin’s batting. He carried the burden of the nation for more than 2 decades giving million of joyous moments. Who can forget the night of 2nd April 2011 when India won the world cup and Sachin was carried on the shoulders of his team mates. The entire country shed tears of joy for one man. It was a dream comes true. The entire team played for him.
“We owned India, British conquered it. British owned cricket, Sachin Tendulkar conquered it.”
Surely, cricket is a religion in India and Sachin is theÂ ‘God’ and as God is immortal, Sachin will never retire.