Sudhir Kumar Gautam was back at the stands as Sachin Tendulkar walked in to bat at the nets. He waved the tri-colour, blew the conch shell and cheered, “ Bharat Mata ki Jai …”
Tendulkar paused for a few seconds. Looked at his favourite fan and went about his business. For the next half an hour, the Brabourne Stadium witnessed the icon going hammer and tongs at the net bowlers.
It rekindled memories. Every time Tendulkar struck a drive or went for a pull, it was a flashback of the good old times of Indian cricket. His teammates - Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan, Sanjay Bangar - all watched in awe as the Master sweated it out at the nets.
Who would say that it’s been seven long years since Tendulkar retired from international cricket!
At 46, Tendulkar still looked hungry for runs.
As the maestro looked determined, a few meters away, one of his old friends - Muttiah Muralitharan - was spinning out at the nets. As the spin wizard came up with the unplayable doosras, his team-mates at Sri Lanka Legends, had a tough time. And adding to their woes, there came a Chaminda Vaas. Breathing fire with his pace, the former Lankan ace looked like as if he was preparing for an international fixture.
Well, over the next couple of weeks, many such freeze frames are set to get viral as some of the legends of world cricket pad up for the UnAcademy Road Safety World Series.
A tournament for a cause, the event will see five teams - India Legends, South Africa Legends, West Indies Legends, Sri Lanka Legends and Australia Legends - slugging out for the title.
And as Yuvraj pointed out, there will be a lot to play for. “The body tires up but then it’s good to regroup with the legends of Indian cricket. The tournament is for a good cause - road safety. A lot of people will be watching us, so we are looking forward to giving our best,” Yuvraj, who quit the game last year, said.
Like many of his old friends, even Yuvraj is looking forward to playing under the captaincy of Tendulkar. “I saw Sachin bat at the nets. He has practiced a lot, and it looks like, those days are back,” Yuvraj said.
In the opening fixture on Saturday, Tendulkar’s India Legends will play Brian Lara-led West Indies Legends at the Wankhede Stadium and the organisers claim that all tickets for the game are sold out.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be back as players. It’s reminiscing the old times and play matches in between. It’s going to be a good period for us, over the next eight-ten days,” former India cricketer, Sanjay Bangar, said as he watched Tendulkar bat.
The shutterbugs gathered near the pitch, with their lenses solely focused on Tendulkar. Each shot was captured. Each movement was framed and as he walked back to the dressing room after a long session, the huge demands for selfies said it all - it’s yesterday once more!
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