One of the enduring images of IPL 9 was that of a tearful Sachin Baby who broke down soon after his team’s loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final. It was heartbreak for the batsman and his team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) which was condemned to be the bridesmaid for yet another time.

The 27-year-old Kerala captain is still struggling to recover from the loss. "The unfortunate run-out of Stuart Binny put additional pressure on me. I tried a few things in the final over but it didn’t work out the way I wanted and I was devastated. We had done all the hard work and really wanted to win the tournament badly. I was consoled by a lot of people after the final but it took me a while to recover. We were a one big family and many us left with a heavy heart after the IPL," said Sachin Baby.

However, Sachin, who was figuring in the IPL squad after a gap of three years, made his presence felt in the tournament. On the face of it his tally of 102 runs and two wickets from 10 matches may not be earth shattering but Sachin’s contribution to RCB’s cause was beyond that. After being forced to warm the benches in the early matches, Sachin grabbed his chance with both hand when it came. Sachin’s electric fielding and gutsy batting under pressure impressed the RCB management. "Even when I was not playing coach Vettori kept on reminding me that I will get a chance and I should make it count. Thank god I was able to live up to their expectations," he said.

Sachin even delivered with his under-rated bowling when he was tossed the ball by captain Virat Kohli. "Kohli knew that I could bowl as he had seen me bowl in the nets. He was under pressure after being fined twice for slow over-rate. He wanted to slip in a few quick overs and tossed the ball to me and said have a go. I picked up two quick wickets against Gujarat Lions which was a bonus for me," he said.

Useful exposure

Sachin said the RCB stint was an education for him and it helped him grow as a cricketer. He got an opportunity to observe modern greats like Kohli, Gayle, Watson, AB De Villiers from close quarters and contrary to general perception he said the players were very warm and helpful to young cricketers like him.

Sachin recollects the match-winning partnership he had with AB De Villiers against King XI and credits the South African batsman for teaching him the virtues of building an innings. He admitted that if not for de Villiers timely advice, he would have thrown away his wicket in that match. "We were under pressure. De Villiers told me that the ground was big and asked me eschew big shots. He wanted me to rotate the strike and convert singles into doubles. It was a big revelation for me and I followed his advice which put me in good stead in the tournament."