A long time ago

Yet Not in a Galaxy Far Far Away

The world didn’t know much about a boy named Sachin Tendulkar. He hadnt assaulted a million bowlers, even his test debut was one and half years ahead, even Ranji Trophy wasnt graced by his presence yet.

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The Little Master

And that’s when our favorite Commentator Harsha Bhogle wrote this piece about the young boy

Season 1987-88 was a purple patch that never ended. Playing in the Vijay Merchant tournament he scored 130 and 107 and then at the Inter-Zonal stage he made 117 against the champions, East Zone. Then in the Vijay Hazare tournament (for Under-17s) he scored 175 for West Zone against champions East Zone.

Then came the avalanche. A 178* in the Giles Shield and a sequence in the Harris Shield of 21*, 125, 207*, 329* and 346*! A small matter of 1028 runs in five innings! And in the course of that innings of 329* he set the much talked-about record of 664 for the third wicket with Vinod Kambli, who, it is not always realised, scored 348*. Perhaps the most fascinating of them all was the innings of 346*. Coming immediately, as it did, in the shadow of the world record, a lot of people were curious to see him bat. Sachin ended the first day on 122, batted through the second to finish with 286, and when the innings closed around lunch on the third day, he was 346*. And then came back to bowl the first ball. In April’s Bombay summer.

Can  read more of the article here

Another interesting piece about the famous Sachin-Kambli partnership is here.

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And the day…

…shall always be remembered with happiness, sadness, ecstasy, disapointment. Every person in India was glued to the tv screen or cricinfo if the Tv wasn’t available. It was a day when all the cricketing noobs around the world got a taste of Godness of a particular person, besides getting to know the fundes of Powerplay, free hit amongst others. It was a day when a mere mortal took it upon himself to perform a deed which even the Gods couldn’t think of. This was the day when this particular person transcended the boundaries which the Gods have defined for humans, a performance which would be marked as scintillating even by those who observe us from skies above. Had such a feat been accomplished in Mahabharata or Ramayana, the associated imagery by the authors would have been of Gods coming down to Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Hyderabad and garlanding the master or showering him with flowers from the skies above.

20 years have passed, many moments, many memories have passed, there are matches which almost every fan has by heart. It all started with Karachi in 1989, when the world saw the youngster for the first time, there was that mastery in Old Trafford in 1990, Sydney 1992 (arguably his best innings), Hero Cup 1993 where he showed the first signs of his magical side, 1996 WC where he started to take serious strides towards becoming the best in business (which btw was the time I started watching cricket), 1998 Sharjah aka the time when we knew that we werent witnessing some ordinary mortal, instead it was the God of cricket who was charming us, Chennai ’99, the epitome of disappointment, 2003 WC, where he again stamped his authority on the spot of the Best, that 186 against the Kiwis in Hyd. Almost any other player would be content to have one such match associated with him like the 281 by Laxman or the Adelaide test which belonged to Dravid and yet this man has been doing it for the  past 20 years. He set a benchmark in 1998 and now 11 years later, he comes up with something which could be termed as spectacular if not better than that one.

Everybody knows that there have been 2 Sachins who have played international cricket, one who was a youngster back in 90s whose name was synonymous with terror for bowlers, Shane Warne, arguably the best spinner to have graced the game would definitely agree with that. His innings used to be flashy, commanding,  flamboyant, he was jumping out of crease, he was slapping the bowlers for sixes, the pulls that he played were audacious, the last thing on mind when playing a drive was whether its in air or not…

And then came the Tendulkar of 2000s, a guy who in his late 20s was supposedly the senior most member in the side, a guy who was held responsible for every defeat although similarly cheered for every victory. A guy who didn’t have the cushion of someone like Azhar who was his senior to fall back upon. One who had to effective instead of attractive, his injuries also playing a role in this transformation. The whole of India was flummoxed at this transformation, where was that cherubic boy we loved and adored, instead he was replaced by some sincere statesman of the game. We slowly got used to this new avatar. After all we Indians are used to listening stories of 9 avatars of Lord Vishnu, this God had took just a single new form. Slowly we begin to love him, because although the stepping out to spinners wouldn’t be there, but the gorgeous cover drives were still there with cheeky shots behind the wicket replacing those straight sixes and he was Great as ever and more effective than earlier, when there was always a risk factor associated with his innings. We started thinking its ok, we don’t miss the previous avatar that much now.

BUT, deep within our hearts there is always a collective desire to see him back in 90s mould. We always loved sights of him traumatizing the bowlers, him stepping out of the crease to play that shot straight over the bowler’s head or that pull which would deposit the ball on the roof of the stadium. Although admitting something like this would be a sin, but deep within our hearts and minds, the greed is still there, the lust factor always prevails, each time he comes to bat… there is a secret desire… a wish in our minds and a prayer on our lips that we will get to see the first avatar of the God today and not the latest one.

5th Novemeber 2009 was one such night, you could sense that something speical was in store when he threw the ball on ground in disgust after the last ball of Australia’s innings, after all how many of us have seen him displaying his emotions. I have never seen such a mad rush of people on twitter, FB, Gtalk Statuses. I was always of the view that  I must be a bit different to be such a big fan of this person but last night was the night when he dispelled all those notions, guys n girls (yeah girls), cricket fans as well as amateurs, all of them were reciting just one name and there was only one number which people were concerned about i.e 200!

I have always wondered what it must be to be The Beatles but I guess this guy’s life must be more extraordinary than those of those 4 individuals combined. In my living memory, i havnt seen a real life scene as dramatic, awe-inspiring as this one. This is one of the nights I will always remember for the rest of my life , and even though all of India can still feel the pain of last night, but such is the quality of the man, that some years later, this match wouldn’t be remembered as a failure of India, instead it would be seen as the triumph of a man over all things earthly. When Sachin plays in the manner he did last night, the results are mostly inconsequential ( although they definitely count).

Its just a sense of respect for the man which lingers in your mind, a sense of previlige on having witnessed something as Godly as this from a man, who walks the earth and devours the grains just like we do. Frankly speaking I consider myself ill-equipped to be the narrator of events such as this..

Would just end the story here with a line by Rohit(a college batchmate FYI) which describes almost everything which happened last night.

I think God doesnt want Sachin to be God, so he keeps doing such things to him