Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar– This would be one of those billion odd blogs to be published on him. But this one not only talks about his exploits on and off the field but also looks at him from the eyes of a kid who knew that cricket was not just a game, a kid who fought with his mom as she gave away some of his collected magazines on Sachin to the raddi shop near his house, a teenager who understood that rejection is an alternate way to acceptance and a professional who realized the value of perseverance and hard-work. Sachin through his batting, his conduct taught us so much that at one point we really wondered, is he human?
What didn he teach us?
How to handle a million expectations– I believe it all started in 1996 World Cup when on one side Sachin was dominating the bowlers all around the world and the team had started to get dependent on him. Do we remember how many no. of times the batting collapsed just after Sachin was out? Some of us in-sensitively cursed him, some impulsive kids like me pulled down the curtain-beads; but again when he went out to bat the next time and played that glorious straight drive we did not move an inch from our place believing that if we moved he would get distracted and get out. Little did we think of what must be going on his mind? How he must be carrying the hopes of thousands like me? And he did it belligerently every single time! And now as he steps out for the final time, we still hope he scores! Damn! We are still expecting him to score!
To be honest– You have scored not one but two brilliant centuries in a span of 3 days. And on both the occasions the umpire rules you out when you were not even close to. But still you do not show any sign of disgust, anger and quietly walk back to the pavilion. And something like that happens again, against a hapless WI in 2011 WC, you choose to walk even when the umpire rules you not-out. With a bowling side like WI, 100th ton was definitely in the offering. It did not end there, even in your 199th test, when that fateful finger went up, you knew it wasn the best of decisions served to you, but still walked back taking the decision in your side.
To answer back in style– Though I have watched almost every famous interview of yours, I never saw you speaking a sentence which meant disgrace, disrespect or hurt anyone. Infact when whole of the bowlers community plotted your downfall and some of them used words just because their bowling was pretty average when they played against you, you kept your calm and when you answered, you did it in style and in the most legitimate way. Be it hammering Henry Olanga in Sharjah, punishing Andy Caddick in 2003 WC or derailing the Shoaib or best of all, giving nightmares to Shane Warne. Didn we just love it? But there was more of learning than rejoicing here.
To give in your best, every single time– I would not talk about times when he batted us to victory, nor would I talk about times when he took the ball in his hands to get the crucial wicket or bowl the all important final over. I would talk about a small incident when even he made it count even with his fielding. This was the match before the Gwalior 200 not out, the first of three 2010 ODIs against South Africa, who needed seven to win with two balls left. On the penultimate ball, Charl Langeveldt pulled one that traveled at speed past short fine leg. Tendulkar, on the boundary, ran full tilt towards the ball and flung himself, diving and sliding along the ground like he was 16, to get his hands on the ball. The batsmen had taken three and Tendulkar saved a single. India won that match by one run.
We struggle in keeping our monotonous lives straight, lives which affect a limited number of people. Imagine what would be the magnitude of the inner struggle for him, pain both mental and physical, tears that have frozen with time, knees and ankles and every other joint in the body that is either bandaged or needs to be attended to every night, eyes that don’t sleep before a big game. And such a big one is due today! And post today we would never see him walk to the rectangle with his willow, those stupendous upper cuts, the suave paddle sweep, the breath-taking cover drive or the moment when he used to remove his helmet after scoring “another” brilliant hundred and looked first at the sky, then at his teammates and then gave it all to the audience who simply loved, worshiped and adored him. To the man who comes once in a lifetime- Words fail here!
-A simple human