You’ve heard the chant. The chant – one that a billion people once lived by; one that would originate from the Wankhede and echo across the cities and the seas.
On this day in 2013 , 24 years and a day after his Test debut on 15th November 1989 at Karachi, Tendulkar bid a tearful adieu to Test cricket at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. His 200th Test match, against the West Indies, culminated in a win for India, as Sachin contributed handsomely with a fluent 74. The Wankhede stadium stunned into silence when he was caught at slip and had to walk back to the pavilion for the last time in an international arena . However, his rousing speech after the match, wherein he mentioned that the chants of “Sachin Sachin will reverberate in my ears until my last breath”, reinvigorated the crowd into a new spree of the chant – perhaps for the last time ever.
A boy , diminutive in size, who didn’t touch a cricket ball until he was 11, making rapid strides in a span of five years at the national level , and then making it to the international area at the age of 16 years was phenomenal. Day in day out he practiced the game he loved with passion and breathed all the time. A child prodigy is born who sent shockwaves with his sterling performances throughout his career.
On his International debut match in a Test at Karachi in Pakistan 1989 like another mercurial all rounder, Kapil Dev, who made his international debut in Pakistan a decade back. Sachin could score 15 runs only in an half an hour stay with 2 boundary hits before he was bowled by another debutant, Waqar Younis. In the very next test at Faisalabad he hit his First half century.
His defining moment came in the fourth test of the series at Sialkot, When he was hit by a searing bouncer from Waqar Younis and he was bleeding. He didn’t call for medical assistance and decided to carry on and in fact hit the very next ball for a boundary. He went on to score a half century and saved the Test . “Waqar’s bouncer and playing through pain defined me. After those kind of hits you are either stronger or you are nowhere to be seen” Sachin said later. “Devon and Waqar, during that phase, were easily the two quickest bowlers in the world bowling at 90 mph. Yes, I didn’t call the physio as I didn’t want to show them that I am in pain. My pain threshold was fairly high. It’s okay to get hit. So what? You don’t show your pain to the bowler.” When he played under childhood coach Achrekar, he had already learned to deal with pain because pitches were often used for 25 days straight at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana. “I was used to getting hit on my body from my days in Shivaji Park as Achrekar sir would make us play on that and it would have enormous wear and tear,” Tendulkar recalled.
In his Autobiography “Playing it my way” Sachin mentioned “ I have to decide at that moment whether to play the game or leave it. I decided to stay in the game.” A decision at the tender age of 16 years was momentous. A “decision” that shook the world to look at him as an iconic figure of the game till he hanged his boots in 2013.
FIRST TEST CENTURY
Another important defining moment was when he scored his first international century at Old Trafford, Manchester in his 9th Test at the age of 17 years and became the youngest Indian to score a century in Tests , a record still held in his name. Manchester in England known for its pristine glory in the annals of cricket including the “Jim Laker’s world record of 19 wickets in a Test against Australia in 1956, saw the young boy Tendulkar making the headlines with a match saving century in August 1990 when India were staring at a defeat. He along with Manoj Prabhakar put on 160 runs partnership and saved the Test .At Old Trafford, Tendulkar walked in with India 109 for 4, which later became 183 for 6, having been set a sizable 408 for victory. Then Manoj Prabhakar joined him for an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 160 runs which took India to safety and kept the series alive after India lost the first Test. “Chris Lewis bowled sharp inswing and throughout my career, backfoot cover drive had been my favourite shot,” Tendulkar said. “The bowler who was the best by far in that series was Angus Fraser. He had a beautiful late outswing, high-arm action, so the ball would bounce and move so late that you had to play at it. “It was a case of showing patience and credit to Manoj that we had a 160-run stand,” he added. “No way till the last over [did we think we were safe in the match]. We came together when we were six down but me and Manoj together said ‘yeh hum kar sakte hain, match bacha lenge’ (we can save the match).”He said “ playing attacking shots, dominating bowlers, gave him greater satisfaction “. Angus Fraser, who spearheaded England’s pace attack and who claimed 8 wickets in that test remarked “ A while ago I was watching that partnership. It’s sort of notoriety for myself because I was the bowler off whom he scored the 100th run of his first hundred, but Richie Benaud’s commentary on the BBC was a very welcome piece. Benaud says something like “We’ll see a lot more centuries flow from his bat”. In fact Angus Fraser is treasuring that Test match’s score card in his possession duly signed by Sachin Tendulkar along with 4 others. Sachin was declared “Man of the Match” in his first International century match. Ayaz Memon, famous author and prolific writer on cricket in his book titled “ SaCHIN TENDULKAR , Master Blaster “ remarked that “ Now, a maiden century is a significant landmark in the life of any batsman, but in India, given the obsession with records and milestones, it is accentuated further “.
After scoring a hundred in Manchester, he continued to score freely in the tour of Australia, starting off with a 148 at Sydney and becoming the youngest batsman to score a Test hundred in Australia, and a 114 on a bouncy WACA wicket, which is popularly regarded by himself and experts, as perhaps his best Test innings. After this Perth innings , the mustached Australian Bowler Merv Hughes, remarked to his captain Alan Border “ AB, this boy is a different material”.
“I was very very struck by his technique. I never saw myself play, but I feel, that this fella is playing much the same as I used to play. ” Sir Donald Bradman, the ultimate batsman, once said to his wife that he felt Tendulkar played the same way as he used to. It was perhaps the ultimate encomium that a batsman could hope to receive.
Sachin Tendulkar has been the most complete batsman of his time, the most prolific runmaker of all time, and arguably the biggest cricket icon the game has ever known. His batting was based on the purest principles: perfect balance, economy of movement, precision in stroke-making, and that intangible quality given only to geniuses – anticipation. He could score runs all round the wicket both off the front and back foot. That was his hallmark quality of batsmanship.
Tendulkar has been the single biggest factor behind the explosion of popularity that cricket enjoys in India which led to the Indian board becoming the richest and most powerful in world cricket. In a country already predisposed to cricket, Tendulkar gave the people a hero they could look up to regardless of age, colour, creed or sect – and catapulted cricket from a sport to a religion in the subcontinent.
Tendulkar is the runaway leader, with nearly 13,500 runs at No. 4. That represents around 85% of his career. This is also the highest tally of runs scored in any position.
Tendulkar is a servant of the game. He does not play out of indignation nor for indulgence. His aim is not domination but runs. It is the nature of his genius.
Among contemporaries only Shane Warne could draw an entire stadium’s energy towards himself.
Like Sunil Gavaskar, another legendary Mumbaikar, Tendulkar played lone battle in the Test against Pakistan at Chennai in 1999 and scored a fighting century but could not prevent Pakistan winning the test by 17 runs. Like Gavaskar, Tendulkar also enjoyed and scored more runs at M.A. Chidambaram stadium in Chennai 970 runs and 5 centuries. Sachin Tendulkar helped India with a win in 2008 at Chennai. Chasing 387 runs for victory in the 4th innings against England, Tendulkar in the company of Yuvraj won this test by 5 wickets, helping himself a century.
DESERT STORM IN 1998
“In those two matches in that tournament, Sachin played two of the finest knocks ever under pressure and against a top quality attack. He was in prime form,” a slightly awe-struck Azhar says. “270 was a very big score in a final those days, Australia had a fine side and there was a suspicion that the wicket might slow down a touch in the second half.
During the seemingly interminable wait for nature’s desert storm to subside and the Tendulkar Desert Storm to take over, there was an eerie calm inside the dressing-room and in the viewing area. “Sachin was batting really well, Laxman was with him, and when you have two guys like that in the middle, they know exactly what is happening. They know what the score is, the calculator tells you want you need to do. So I didn’t feel the need to have a chat with them at the interruption,” Azhar admits.
WORLD CUP WIN
“He has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years; it’s time we carried him on our shoulders\”
– Virat Kohli’s words after his idol Sachin Tendulkar finally got his hands on the long-awaited World Cup trophy. A fitting reward in 2011 for a man( who waited for 6 world cups) to be a part of World cup winning team at Wankhade stadium, Mumbai in his hometown.Coming into the 2011 World Cup with a rich vein of form, Tendulkar contributed handsomely to a victorious campaign with 482 runs, the second-most in the tournament, and lifted the World Cup trophy in his homeground. He was paraded around the Wankhede, draped with a tricolour over his shoulders – one of the lasting images of the World Cup and perhaps in the history of World Cup cricket.
Surprisingly after playing for more two decades, Tendulkar won his first ICC cricketer of the year award in 2010. Tendulkar described ‘2010’ as among the best ever in his cricketing career. In February 2010, he became the first batsman to break the 200-run barrier in the one-day cricket.
Tendulkar with his off break and leg break also showed his prowess in bowling in ODIs taking a tally of 154 wickets ( and in Tests also has taken 46 wickets) .
Sachin Tendulkar has defended six or fewer runs in the 50th over in ODIs, the only player to do so. He did so against South Africa in the Hero Cup at Eden Gardens in 1993 and versus Australia in the Titan Cup in Mohali in 1996.
He has won MoM awards against all countries except UAE and Berumuda in ODIs.
Man of the Series – 12
Man of the Match – 62 (ODIs)
BIOPIC ON TENDULKAR
On May 27, 2017 released the sports docudrama, “Sachin: A Billion Dreams” , the ‘authorised’ biopic of Sachin Tendulkar. The film was by James Erskine and produced by Ravi Bhagchandka, and captures Tendulkar’s cricket and personal life in detail. The film also reveals a few aspects of his life which have never been heard of or seen before.
- India’s Highest Civilian Award “ Bharat Ratna” was conferred on him in 2013, the only sportsperson to receive this award.
- Arjuna Award- 1994
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award- 1997
- Padma Shri – 1999
- Padma Vibhushan – 2008
- He was also nominated as a M.P. of Rajya Sabha in 2012
- Wisden’s Cricketer of the year – 1997
- Wisden’s Leading cricketer – 2010
- Honoray Member of the order of Australia
- Honorary Life member at Sydney Cricket Ground
His unenviable record stands like this , which will be difficult to be surpassed.
- Number of Tests – 200
- Number of ODIs – 463
- Total runs in Tests- 15921
- Total runs in ODIs- 18426
- Total wickets in tests – 46
- Total wickets in ODIs- 154