The occasion demanded celebration. Sachin Tendulkar was turning 50. For Dwarkanath Sanzgiri, it was a challenge. What gift could he give to this cricketer whom he had known even before he had played his debut first-class match? He decided to do a book on Sachin - to relive his cricket life without the stats of his achievements on the field.
A big name in Marathi literature, Dwarkanath has 40 books to his credit. He chose to pen his association with Sachin from the time he saw him play at various maidans of then Bombay. The result was a delightful book, Scintillating Sachin, Story beyond the Stats. The book was launched at the 50-year celebrations in Mumbai where Sachin was present with his entire family.
Sanzgiri’s books present rare anecdotes from Sachin’s life. This one relates to his under-15 days when Sachin discovered his pads were stolen. His coach, Ramakant Achrekar, asked Hemant Kenkre to lend his pads, the same pads which Sunil Gavaskar had lent. Gavaskar and Kenkre happen to be cousins. Gavaskar had played his role early in his career and Kenkre loves to share the anecdote in great detail whenever he gets a chance. Sachin remembers the matches he played with those pads very vividly.
Vasu Paranjpe, the famous coach from Mumbai, finds glorious mention in the book as he took care of Sachin’s early grooming. Sanzgiri also laces the story with references to the part played by Ajit Tendulkar in shaping Sachin’s career. He particularly writes about the 1989 tour to Pakistan when Ajit accompanied his younger brother to offer moral support. At the end of the tour, Sachin told Sanzgiri the gap between first-class and Test cricket was as big as that between Ranji Trophy and school cricket. Credit to Sachin for learning the lessons in quick time to be ready for the bowlers on his next international tour, to New Zealand, where he missed a century by 12 runs in what was his ninth Test innings.
Sanzgiri, who has known Sachin from the time he was 14, brings to us a rare anecdote from the Pakistan tour. Chandu Borde was the manager of that tour and he confessed to the author that he had “never” seen Sachin play. Borde recalls an incident from the first Test match at Karachi, which did not have big hotels and the team was accommodated in a large building. Borde picked a ground-floor room for himself and Sachin was allotted a room above his. On the eve of the match, as he prepared to sleep around 10.30 pm, Borde heard knocking sounds from the room above. He rushed to discover that Sachin had hung a ball on a string and was practising before a mirror, trying to check if his bat swing was coming in straight. On other occasions, Sanzgiri writes about Sachin indulging in knocking in the dressing rooms and corridors to the hotel.
Sachin takes pride in his strong bonding with Sanzgiri. It so happened that before the tour to England in 1990, he visited Sanzgiri’s house with his brothers. “I remember the menu, medu vada, shira (semolina sweet) and tea.” As luck would have it, Sachin scored his first Test century in England and made it a point to visit Sanzgiri’s house for snack/dinner/lunch on the eve of a foreign tour. Yet another anecdote that stands out in the book is Sachin’s exceptional quality to arm-wrestle. When he made it to the Indian team, he could beat everyone except Salil Ankola.
The one that came during a Test happened at Mumbai against Sri Lanka in 1997. Around 10.30 pm, Sachin summoned his friend, Atul Ranade, to the Taj Hotel at Gateway of India. The two slipped out of the hotel and went to Udyan Ganesh Temple at Shivaji Park, Siddhuvinayak Temple, Haji Ali for a milkshake, and settled down on a parapet wall at World Seaface. Sachin had been troubled by the grip on the bat handle and suddenly he found a solution sitting on that parapet wall. “I told the receptionist at the hotel I want a carpenter in my room at 8 a.m. I wanted to cut the bat handle a bit. A carpenter came and sawed off the handle as I showed him. That day I was in a different frame of mind from the very first ball and scored 148 runs,” Sachin tells Sanzgiri.
Sanzgiri writes about Sachin’s admirers, from fellow cricketers to fans, but the one involving Amitabh Bachchan stands out. Sanzgiri had gone to Mehboob Studios to invite Bachchan to an event to be held from 4 pm to 7 pm. Accepting the invitation, where Gavaskar and GR Viswanath were being felicitated by Sanzgiri along with Sachin, the star made a request that reflected his admiration for the cricketers. Bachchan wanted to reach the venue at 3 pm to spend more time with Sachin’s family. Also, Sanzgiri was floored by a request from Bachchan’s office before that event. He wanted to sit next to Sachin.
Pravin Amre, who was Sachin’s roommate on his early tours, beautifully shares Sachin’s preparations before a match. “Sachin’s method of practice was the same even in his 200th Test. Just as the captain of an aeroplane has a checklist before every flight, Sachin also has a checklist. Just as a pilot feels responsible for the lives of all the passengers he’s carrying, Sachin used to feel responsible for the team which he carried on his shoulders,” Amre remembers in the book.
The book has 16 chapters that deal with his amazing achievements. Sanzgiri analyses Sachin the bowler, his batting against the spinners of all varieties, his humility when meeting past heroes and fans, how he fares in comparison with Brian Lara and Virat Kohli, and ultimately a discussion on Sachin and the great Don Bradman. It is a must-read for Sachin’s fans. Sanzgiri knows Sachin’s career and evolution as a player like the back of his hand. In fact, often Sachin would reach out to Sanzgiri for counselling in life lessons and heed his guidance.
Written originally in Marathi, and translated into English by Satish Mutatkar, the hardcover has been published by Granthali. The 240-page book, priced at Rs 1000, is one of its kind with some rich anecdotes from Sachin Tendulkar’s life.
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