"C'mon, if you say that he is the greatest ever and is endowed with 'supernatural' powers. Why not now? What happens to him in the finals ?" I retorted. "Dude, he can't do everything alone, he needs support from the team. He made sure that India reaches the final." Shantanu Shahi was trying his best to convince me." Then admit that he is just a great batsman not the best, does not click when the team needs." I said sarcastically." Oh shut up! You are a cynic, what has your dada done in all these games?" Shantanu shouted with a hint of irritation in his voice.
I and Shantanu often ended up debating on Sachin-Saurav (Dravid excited neither of us) during those wonderful days in hostel (99-'04). I was not just a Saurav Ganguly fan, I relished bashing Sachin Tendulkar. And to put it honestly, he did give me plenty of opportunities by repeatedly failing in the finals or by not clicking when the team needed. More than six years have passed since I left hostel and parted with Shantanu, and now I have no hesitation in admitting that I am in awe of this little wonder from Mumbai. I can firmly say Sachin is not just the best, he is divine, unparalleled and beyond adjectives. He has been answering all the questions, raised by me and other like minded naysayers, with conviction and aplomb.
In the last couple of years or so, Sachin Tendulkar has rediscovered himself. He has given a new lease of life to his career by mixing a studied caution to his otherwise flamboyant style of play. Now, he is more measured, doubly effective, equally intriguing and most importantly, very very consistent. He no longer looks to hit the ball, the ball merely kisses his willow and disappears somewhere in the stands. Given the class, temperament and caliber that he already has, this additional garnishing is nothing less than death penalty for bowlers across the world.
Such is the aura and magnificence of his strokeplay that so-called big hitters like Pollard and Dhoni look 'Ugly' in front of him. Well, you need not have imposing personality, bulging muscles or swing your bat in utter defiance of gravity to ensure that the ball is amongst the crowds. The master does it with utmost ease but with no arrogance whatsoever, which is so uncommon for modern day cricketing stars. His cover drive is silken like a beautiful maiden's flowing hair. Even when he pulls, there is no hint of defiance or slap-on-the-face-of-the-bowler, its like a small peck on the cheek, saying, " come again, kiddo!"
Sachin is not just a cricketing star for India and Indians. He is God, he is that rhythm divine to whose tunes billions of cricket lovers dance. We revel his every single run, we sacrifice our meals to make sure that he completes his century, we cry when he gets out early.
Sachin's batting is like poetry to eyes, its ethereal, magnanimous and surreal. His batting prowess has that healing touch that has kept India together for two decades now. He binds a Marathi with Bihari, a biz honcho with a laborer. An ailing patient forgets his pain and a crying baby his hunger, when Sachin comes out to bat. I guess Naxals do not have TV sets, or they would have relinquished violence long back.
He commands respect and dignity, masters poise and determination. His life is a living epitome of an idol that we so badly search for. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar trashes the myth that a sporting legend must be a pin-up boy. He is not tainted like a Shane Warne or Tiger Woods, he is right there at the top of the heap and in the bottom of everyone's heart. Grace, humbleness and unflinching character are his best companions. It is with this arsenal of virtues that he has been able to mow down opponents as ruthless as Aussies. Sample this from a stubborn and rude cricketer like Matthew Hayden, "I have seen God. He bats at no. 4 for India in tests." Fear (and respect) of Tendulkar is now deep embedded in Australian psyche, it will pass on through their genes. Now I know, why they target Indians in Melbourne!
This is Sachin's era, it was never like this before. Not even when he was a teen with curly hair. He is behaving like a monk these days, calm, cool and composed beyond belief. His attitude shows that he is above everything now, beyond records, achievements and milestones. He just wishes to play cricket, he just wants to bat till the very end. It is this hunger for runs and cricket that makes this gentleman so special. His commitment, devotion and dedication to the game is exemplary and can easily put many youngsters to shame.
I thank God, mum and dad for timing my birth so perfectly. Because soon the history would be divided in three eras, "Pre-Sachin, Sachin and Post Sachin." I am lucky, I belong to the 'SACHIN' era.
P.S- The Writer Advocates Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar.
This is an old Facebook Note from the writer. More on the legend follows soon. Just Awaiting his 100th 100.