Happy birthday, Sachin Tendulkar: From those who write about cricket for a living

On Sachin Tendulkar's birthday, sports journalists recount their favourite memories of the Master Blaster.

Sachin Tendulkar looks skywards after reaching his century during the 2011 ICC World Cup match between England and India at The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.   -  Getty Images

Happy birthday, Sachin Tendulkar.

In the flood of wishes headed your way, here are a few words from sports journalists who have made cricket and you their livelihood. After much debate, we restricted ourselves to one standout memory each. Regards, Team Sportstar.

Born to bat

When a 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar landed with the Indian team on its 1989 tour of Pakistan, the fans made fun of the 'kid'. They even asked him to fly back and drink milk instead of getting hurt in a man's world.  It took one innings - in fact, just six deliveries - for Tendulkar to change his detractors into admirers.

In an exhibition T20 game at Peshawar – the official ODI was abandoned owing to poor light – India was in dire straits after Pakistan scored 157. Unfazed by the situation and unruffled by the taunts of Abdul Qadir, the ‘boy’ smashed the leg-spin wizard for four sixes in an over. The sequence read: 6, 0, 4, 6, 6, 6. Tendulkar went on to make an 18-ball 53 and India was within a shout before losing by four runs.

That day, Qadir knew he had watched someone special. Before long, the world knew Tendulkar was born to bat.

- R. Narayanan

Sachin Tendulkar batting for India during his innings of 165 in the second Test match between India and England at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai on 11th February 1993.   -  Patrick Eagar

 

Consecrating home soil

There was a huge roar of welcome at Chepauk when a cherubic, wisp of a lad walked out to bat. Such a welcome had been accorded in a different era to a worthy called Gundappa Viswanath.

This was SACHIN TENDULKAR!

Still in his teens, the Bombay lad sauntered to the wicket with the Indian score reading 149 for two, the opposition being England, in the second Test of the 1993 series. Manoj Prabhakar and Navjot Sidhu had opened with Tendulkar's bosom Bombay mate, Vinod Kambli, at number three. Prabhakar had fallen for 27 and Kambli had exited after making 59.

Now, what would Tendulkar do? This was his 23rd Test and he had four Test centuries under his belt, all of them made abroad.

Sidhu was an able ally and got to his century (104 not out) before the close with Tendulkar on a polished 70, India finishing the opening day on 275 for two. Tendulkar had survived a couple of tense moments, but by and large he was on top of an England attack that had three pacemen and three spinners.

The phenom underlined his dominance on the second morning, plundering the 30 runs to his hundred off the first 25 deliveries that he faced. There were seven champagne fours, most of them blistering on drives, with the usually dreaded nervous nineties being brushed aside with just three scoring strokes.

The England quick Devon Malcolm bore the brunt of Tendulkar's charge as the superbat recorded his first century on home soil. And Malcolm had been in the England attack when Tendulkar hit his first Test hundred at Old Trafford in 1990!

'I reckon this little man gonna be a good cricketer when he grows up,' Malcolm had said then after he had failed to rap Tendulkar on the helmet, something that he did to most batsmen!    

- P. Krishnan

 

Desert Storm

Sachin Tendulkar has etched infinite memories in every cricket fan but if one had to stand out, it would be against Australia, in Sharjah, in 1998, coincidentally on his birthday. It was battle which Tendulkar would never lose.

The 5.5ft tall Tendulkar was ready to make mincemeat of anything that was thrown at him. Scoring hundreds against Australia was never easy back then. But Tendulkar made it look a cakewalk — two centuries in three days in scorching heat and add a desert storm in between. The likes of Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Damien Fleming and Tom Moody had no clue what had hit them. Dispatching bowlers to all corners of the park, Tendulkar’s demi-god status reached unassailable levels. While the crowd was ‘dancing in the aisles’ in Sharjah, millions were dancing in the aisles and in their hearts across the country.

- Hari Kishore M.

Sachin Tendulkar pulls Michael Kasprowicz during his century knock against Australia in the Coca Cola Cup final at Sharjah on April 24, 1998.   -  V.V. Krishnan

 

No battle too small

It is not every day that you see Sachin Tendulkar struggling at the nets. But I distinctly remember that April evening in 2013 when Tendulkar -- who was playing his last IPL season for Mumbai Indians -- found it tough to read the in-swingers off a rookie U-19 net bowler from Rajasthan.

Batting at the Rajasthan Cricket Association Academy premises in Jaipur on the eve of Mumbai Indians’ IPL fixture against Rajasthan Royals, Tendulkar found himself in a spot of bother.

Seeing Tendulkar struggle, the youngster shortened his run-up and bowled a few loose deliveries. The Master Blaster, obviously, hit them hard. But a few minutes later, he walked up to the youngster and told him to bowl those in-swingers.  

For the next one hour, Tendulkar ensured that he overcame the odds. After making the youngster sweat for nearly an hour and a half, Tendulkar ensured that he gave a pat on his back. By then, he was just a few months away from retirement and he could have easily taken things easy in an IPL fixture. But he ensured that he bettered his performance and for that, he did not mind spending hours at the nets.

That’s Sachin Tendulkar for you.

- Shayan Acharya

 

Glorious end to a long wait

For anyone who has followed Indian cricket and Sachin Tendulkar’s career, there can’t be many greater, long-lasting memories than Virat Kohli carrying Tendulkar on his shoulders after India won the 2011 World Cup.

India had, along with Tendulkar, waited 28 years to win another World Cup after Kapil Dev led the country to its maiden triumph on June 25, 1983. It had been a major source of inspiration for Tendulkar, who was a ball boy in the 1987 World Cup semifinal, watching on from the boundary as India lost to England. He waited 22 years after his India debut to get his hands on the World Cup, along the way coming agonisingly close in 2003 and enduring the embarrassment of a group-stage exit in the 2007 edition.

On April 2, 2011, Tendulkar finally realised his “biggest dream”, which was winning the World Cup.   

- Suhith Kumar

Sachin Tendulkar is carried on his teammates' shoulders after India defeated Sri Lanka in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 final.   -  AFP

 

 

Dreaming big

Being a ‘90s kid, it was impossible not to admire the omnipresent Sachin Tendulkar.

At times, I felt irritated too. If I skipped my glass of milk before school, my grandmother would often talk of Sachin and how ‘Boost’ kept him energetic.

Sachin’s career grew with me. I watched him on many occasions, mostly at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. I saw him quite often after I became a sports journalist. I even asked him questions at press conferences.

But one day, I had a chance to shake hands and introduce myself; a special memory.  It was at the launch of the book  ‘Raj Singh Dungarpur - A Tribute’ at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai in 2014.

After the event was over, he was talking to a few journalists on his way out. I smartly stood at the exit gate to meet the legend. As he started, I had 101 cardiac arrest symptoms. In a flash, there he was; right in front of me. 

"Hi Sachin sir, this is Wriddhaayan; thanks for taking us down the Raj bhai memory lane," I told him.

"Hello Vridhayan (he, of course, didn't know the pronunciation, nobody does). Nice to meet you, it’s a pleasure,” and I was dead. Thanks to him, I started dreaming big in life. Happy Birthday, Master!

- Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya

 

Ever-present

My association with Sachin Tendulkar and cricket started during the 1992 World Cup when there was too much buzz about this young kid. I was fortunate to watch his maiden World Cup century against Kenya in 1996 at the Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. Sachin remained unbeaten on 127 off 138 balls and hit 15 boundaries and a six in India's seven-wicket win.

As a school-kid, I had accompanied my father to that match (like any other game played at Barabati) and I still remember the only six that he hit during that knock. It landed few rows ahead of where I was seated and the shot was nothing less than a thunderbolt.  

I was there, and so was Sachin in the middle. This is what I retain from Barabati even years after life and career forced me out of Cuttack. 

- Sattwik Sovan Biswal

Dear readers, if you want to wish Sachin Tendulkar on his birthday with an article, picture, or art form, write to us at — [email protected]

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