Old-school joy and vintage Tendulkar, Yuvraj on offer for fans at Road Safety World series

There was more to India Legends' victory over South Africa Legends to reach the semifinals of the Road Safety World Series T20 2020-21 than just the act of winning.

On Saturday, when chants of “Sachin, Sachin” welcomed the Little Master to the crease – eight years after he hung up his boots – you knew the man with 100 international hundreds still moved through different air.   -  Twitter/Road Safety World Series

It was sport, but not as Raipur has known it in a while.

Vibrant noise emanated from the stands of Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium. The action was fast-paced and nostalgically engaging. Big hits boomed off the bat and athletic saves were made as India Legends beat South Africa Legends by 56 runs to reach the semifinals of the Road Safety World Series T20 2020-21. But there was more to this match than a single act of winning.

In two minutes, perhaps the best snippets of individual skill in the entire night happened back-to-back. Makhaya Ntini bowled in the right channel for Sachin Tendulkar to pursue. It was a back-of-a-length delivery, and Tendulkar hopped on the back foot and caressed it square in front of point. The next ball, Ntini shaped one in from a good length, and Tendulkar pounced on a typically respectable ball and sent it whistling back past the bowler across the turf to the boundary rope.



READ: Road Safety World Series: Yuvraj, Tendulkar turn back the clock

The elegant audacity behind these strokes made it an impossibly seductive experience – you just had to lie back and give in. Over the years, Tendulkar’s cult status in Indian cricket has been embellished by the numbers game. That said, it was perhaps the strength of feeling for Tendulkar that set him apart from his other great contemporaries.

While millions of fans derived an unadulterated joy from what he could do with a bat in hand, his achievements also inspired a generation of Indians to take up the sport. “Sab yahan Tendulkar ko dekhne aaye haiItna bada khiladi hai (Everyone is here to watch Tendulkar. He is such a great player),” says Rajesh, a 24-year-old cab driver.

Ab corona ke time mein thodi smile mil rahi hai logo koMera koi  favourite player nahi hailekin mere papa Tendulkar ke bhakt haiUnhe sun sun ke mujhe bhi Tendulkar mein interest aa gaya. (He is giving joy to people during the pandemic. I don’t have a favourite player, but my father is a big fan of Tendulkar. He got me hooked to him!”

Atul, 26, who sells tea outside the stadium, says he’s grown up watching Tendulkar play. “Mujhe unka chauka marne ka style aur jis tarike se batting karne aate the...jaisa chalte the crease tak...woh bahut pasand haiMera sapna hai Tendulkar sir ko chai pilana. (I loved the way he used to hit those boundaries and how he walked out to bat. It is my dream to serve him tea one day,” he says.

 

So, on Saturday, when chants of “Sachin, Sachin” welcomed the Little Master to the crease – eight years after he hung up his boots – you knew the man with 100 international hundreds still moved through different air.

Tendulkar was eventually dismissed for a 37-ball 60, but the fans got an exuberance upgrade on the trip down memory lane when Yuvraj Singh hit four consecutive sixes off Zander de Bruyn, each better than the previous one. That high backlift and the glorious follow-through that were once the highlights of his pomp left fans craving for more.

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However, it wasn’t those four sixes but the one that Yuvraj hit in the next over that sent the emotional memories into overdrive. He held his pose as he carted Ntini over long-on. It was a maximum from the moment it left that bat and the crowd roared as it flew. Yuvraj finished unbeaten on 52.

It was Tendulkar and Yuvraj’s personal adventure, one that was spectacular, and the fans just went with the flow. They were there for the ride!

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