A natural talent

Kapil seems to suggest here that Sachin can don any hat.-Pics: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Once he got his first Test century in England and then watching his performance in Australia, I was convinced that I was watching a great player in the making. By Kapil Dev.

Raj bhai (late Raj Singh Dungarpur) had asked me to watch this boy. He once requested me to bowl to him and I had wondered what this was about. Believe me; I was not too happy to bowl to him. He was so young. That’s the first thing I remember about Sachin Tendulkar.

Raj bhai was keen to promote this young fellow and honestly we were critical and it was not just because of his young age. To have the talent is one thing, but to live up to that potential is another story. There is a saying; put the man in deep sea and wait for him to either survive or watch him drown. Sachin not only emerged as a great swimmer but also kept on improving as time progressed.

He had tremendous talent and ability but more importantly, he has been able to translate that into some wonderful deeds on the field.

Once he got his first Test century in England and then watching his performance in Australia, I was convinced that I was watching a great player in the making. It was a nice to watch him grow as a batsman. His style went through some changes over time — he was more aggressive at the start of his career, but slowed down as he gained experience. He had to handle the pressure of carrying the team. I loved his attacking style more!

in the later years, he seemed to have gone into a shell and stopped attacking. I personally never believed in interfering with his game because he was so natural. I loved his natural style but, sadly, it was lost somewhere as he was burdened with more responsibilities.

Sachin Tendulkar was good in Tennis too. Here he plays doubles, partnering Kapil Dev.-

The opportunity to open the innings in One-dayers contributed in a big way in shaping his career. In Tests he occupied the crucial number four slot. This switch in positions made him more versatile.

Sachin’s impact on the game has been huge, but I would also add the names of (Virender) Sehwag, (Rahul) Dravid, (Anil) Kumble, (V. V. S) Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, (Sourav) Ganguly and (M. S.) Dhoni. They have all been huge inspirations.

And Sachin also realised the fact that he had such a great company. In my time, it was only Sunil Gavaskar who took all the pressure as a batsman; at least, Sachin had players he could fall back upon. And I am sure he will never forget the fact that he was helped in a big way by some very dedicated people in the team and of course his family.

The last I met him I gave him Rs 2000 as I had lost a bet. I had challenged him to play for ten years but he did 20. I had to part with my money but I was happy to do so.

As told to Vijay Lokapally