Sachin Tendulkar-The Living Legend
Sachin Tendulkar’s life can be summed up quite rightly in one sentence. From Tendulkar to Ton-dulkar to End-ulkar to Ton-dulkar again. Such has been his importance to the game that it had be quite an achievement to find an Indian cricketer who says that he has not been inspired by Tendulkar. For the past two decades, Sachin Tendulkar has quite successfully handled the magnanimous task of living upto the expectations of a billion people.
He has been the cynosure of public eye for an unassailable time and the amount of respect he generates in the cricketing fraternity is outstanding to say the least. What’s more is that time and again he has been very successful in proving his detractors wrong and the only way he chooses to do this is by letting his bat do the talking. A placard during a match of Mumbai Indians read: “Sachin Tendulkar – reducing the number of atheists since 1989.”
Well one look at his achievements and you had find that line to be an understatement really. When it comes to batting, you name the record and Sachin has it in his kitty. Moreover, Sachin has been a very noble human being too. He has championed major social causes, most notable amongst these being AIDS awareness and Cancer charity. His net worth speaks volumes about his unprecedented rise from the dusty maidans of Churchgate to the Long Room at Lords.
I would not be exaggerating if I were to say that Sachin Tendulkar is an institute in himself. There is so much to learn for budding cricketers every time he goes out to bat. He has been the epitome of never-say-die spirit for twenty years now and will continue to be so for many more years to come. Sachin’s feats on the field can be attributed to the technical soundness of Sunil Gavaskar along with the skill and dexterity of Sir Donald Bradman. Add to it the longevity of Sir WG Grace and you have the end product which goes by the name Sachin Tendulkar.
Now that we have dwelled upon the intricacies involved in being Him, we will embark on a journey to deconstruct how Sachin Tendulkar has become the legend that he is. Way back in 1988, Sachin Tendulkar was already the next big thing in Indian Cricket, at least according to the observers of Mumbai cricket. It came as no big surprise when he along with his closest buddy, Vinod Kambli, notched up a stand of 664 runs between them within no time for their school, Shardashram Vidya Mandir. Soon enough he was playing for Mumbai and amassing runs against respectable bowlers. He managed to score an unbeaten ton against Gujarat at Wankhede and was the youngest Indian to be doing so, back then.
Such was his stature around that time that even the legendary Kapil Dev confided to his wife that he had seen something really special the first time he saw Sachin batting in the nets. Quite obviously, a national call-up was on the anvil and that happened without any opposition. To this day, Sachin Tendulkar is grateful to the Late Raj Singh Dungarpur, who provided him with the required impetus that his career needed. He had a major role in getting Him selected for that tour to Pakistan. The rest, as they say, is history. Though Sachin never got off to a flier on his first tour, he nevertheless managed to impress the audiences with his exquisite timing and stroke-making ability.
The fact that a fifteen-year old could stand up against the nerve-wrecking pace of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis(who also was on his debut in that series) was an achievement in itself. However, his first tryst with International cricket in Pakistan was marred by a lethal delivery by Waqar Younis which had him bleeding. He nevertheless notched up a well-made half century and that spoke reams about his confidence and fearlessness. This batting maestro went on to score his first century against England at Old Trafford in India’s tour of England in 1990. This innings of his made sure that India did not concede defeat against England and he made sure that they held their necks out and hung in for a draw. To this date, that century of his remains amongst his most valuable tons.
If his detractors thought that he was fit for batting only in the deserts of India, he made sure that they were forced to eat their own words by scoring a century at WACA, Perth in 1992. A joke in the cricketing fraternity says that even batting on a stool might not be sufficient to deal with the bounce on this wicket. This wicket, to this date, is supposed to be the bounciest of tracks in the international arena. His flamboyance charmed the ones sitting at the helm at Yorkshire and he went on to become Yorkshire’s first overseas signing in the summer of 1992.
What made Sachin stand out from others was the fact that he had scored his first century not at home conditions but abroad. But he made sure that his CV showed a century at home. He played a major role in an innings-victory over England at Chennai in 1993 by scoring 165-odd runs. Tendulkar, by then, had become a decent bowler and was a safety net for Mohammed Azharuddin. This was reiterated by the fact that he managed to concede just three runs of the last over against South Africa at Hero Cup semifinals and hence, gifted India with a two run victory over a strong opposition.
Looking at his batting records back then, it was quite obvious that he would be opening the innings for India in the coming years in ODIs and cement his position as the best opener India has ever produced. His scintillating form continued in the World Cup which the subcontinent hosted in 1996 and he bagged the record of scoring the most runs in a World Cup, which he himself would go on to break in the World Cup of 2003, by amassing 523 runs at a mind-boggling average of 87.16. In the summer of 1998, he later went on to score his first double century in Australia’s tour of India.
Cricket in those times had an unlikely market in the deserts of Sharjah. Nevertheless, the Master Blaster that Sachin is, he went on to scale this peak too. He went on to score back-to-back tons against an Australian attack which comprised of the deadly trio of Damien Fleming, Shane Warne and Michael Kasprowicz. Shane Warne even confessed in an interview once that Sachin was responsible for giving him some sleepless nights. Indian cricket went on to achieve unparalleled success in the coming years and the man who was the fulcrum of this team was none other than Sachin Tendulkar.
A historical series was around the corner. Australia, who had been the final frontier for almost all teams in world cricket, was beckoning. Not many thought India would go on to stop Australia’s 16-match-unbeaten run. They did that and they did that with some panache. Sachin was at the centre of this epoch-making tour too with a well-compiled century in the series decider against the Aussies at Eden Gardens, Kolkatta. That match proved to the world that for this bunch of Indians, sky is very well the limit. The fact that he was a legend was reiterated when he went on to become the first player in history of the game to have scored 10,000 runs at the international arena in March, 2001.
It’s not like life has been a bed of roses for this batting genius; he has had his fair share of thorns too. The ugly side of ball-tampering seemed to have left a blot on his career when he was banned for having fidgeted with the ball during the Port Elizabeth test in November, 2001. However, truth prevailed in the coming few months and he was later absolved of all the charges and declared innocent by the International Cricket Council. Sportsmanship appeared to have come down to abysmal levels when negative bowling tactics were used by the visiting Englishmen against Sachin.
For the first time in a test career spanning twelve years, Sachin was stumped out of the crease off the bowling of Ashley Giles at Bangalore in the winter of 2001. However, this went on to highlight Sachin’s weakness against left-arm spinners, which was exploited quite successfully by captains around the world in the coming years. If Sir Don was the standard which batsmen set out to achieve, Tendulkar made sure that he overcame this final frontier with certain degree of style. He overtook Bradman’s tally of 29 centuries at Headingley in a winning cause in India’s tour of England, 2002.
His scintillating form going into the World Cup of 2003 was an ominous sign for the bowlers around the world. Not only did he break his own record of having scored the highest amount of runs at a World Cup but also, he went on to produce a match winning knock of 98 against India’s archrivals, Pakistan. His hook shot over deep point off the bowling of Shoaib Akhtar still remains fresh in the minds of cricket purists all over the world. Around the start of 2004, just when critics were commenting that Sachin was past his shelf-life, he blasted his way through a double century at the bouncy track of Sydney against the Aussies. Not only did he have a role to play in India’s victory over the Kangaroos at their own backyard but also, he made sure that India was able to shed their “Lions at home, cubs abroad!” image. The way in which he celebrated his century at SCG still remains a vivid image in the minds of an Indian fan. For it was a sign of the fact that Sachin is an insurmountable person and there were many more years of cricket left in him.
His form continued in the rest of the season and his showing at India’s goodwill tour to Pakistan was not an aberration surely. However, to this date, the reason behind the skipper’s declaration, leaving Tendulkar stranded at 194 remains one of the best kept secrets of cricket. However, in the following ODI series, he managed to dazzle his way through to score a well-deserved century in albeit a losing cause against the Pakistanis.
Tendulkar has always maintained that more than scoring a century what matters to him is the victory of his team. And that’s very much a sign of how good a human being he is. In August, 2004, age finally seemed to be catching up with the legend as he had to face the ignominy of being left out of the team due to a tennis elbow injury. India didn’t fare well in the absence of Sachin and its showing at the Champions Trophy, 2004 showed how vital he was to India’s plans. However, he did make a comeback to international cricket against Australia and went on to become the fifth man in history to score 10,000 test runs during the course of his 52 against the visiting Pakistanis.
However, the dreaded tennis elbow resurfaced in May, 2005 and he had to once again the bear the brunt of being injured. This time, however, he had to be on the sidelines for a prolonged period and was forced to sit out of a triangular series in Sri Lanka, India’s tour to Zimbabwe in 2005(the Chappel-Ganguly spat surfaced during this tour) and the Super Series in Australia. However, Tendulkar is definitely not among those who will take things lying down. He has always made optimum use of his rest period and this is a virtue which many of us can learn from him.
He made a roaring return to international cricket in October, 2005 by scoring 93 of 96 balls against Sri Lanka at Nagpur. Sachin had a very lean patch in international cricket around this time. He had been stuck on 34 test centuries for quite a long time now. Calls for him setting a world record by scoring one more ton and overtaking Sunil Gavaskar’s world record were getting louder by the day. It was in this scenario that he blazed his way through his world-record-clinching 35th century against Sri Lanka at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi in December, 2005 and the very few doubts of Tendulkar being a legend were very well laid to rest after this innings.
However, this innings was not an announcement that Tendulkar was back in form. His lean patch continued for the rest of the year. People were baying for his blood and there was constant pressure on him to announce his retirement. His comment that he was not 16 anymore did him no good. It was amidst all this that he had fallen prey to a straight delivery off the bowling of James Anderson at Mumbai during England’s tour of India in March, 2006. A lot of drama ensued. Sachin Tendulkar, who had been held in high regard, by the Wankhede crowd at every point in his career, had to incur the wrath of this very crowd. He was booed on his way back to the pavilion and this was very well the final nail in the coffin according to many critics.
After all, being tonsured by your own people can be very damning and disturbing. To rub more salt to his wounds, he had to sit out of the following tour to the Caribbean as he had to go under the knife for a surgery on his right shoulder in England. This was very well the silence before the storm. For Tendulkar, after his return from England, scored a scintillating 141 off 148 balls in Kuala Lumpur against West Indies in the DLF Cup in September, 2006. However, this knock went in vain as India did not manage to seal a victory against the West Indians.
Greg Chappell’s high-handed approach towards the Indian team ensured that India did not progress beyond the group stages at World Cup, 2007 in the Caribbean. Moreover, a team with legends like Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mahender Singh Dhoni was expected to take Bangladesh to the cleaners 99 times out of 100. But March 17, 2007 was different. Bangladesh managed to rip-apart India and on back of this defeat, India was unceremoniously dumped out of the World Cup. Questions were being raised over the utility of seniors in the squad. Riding on India’s poor performance at the World Cup, despite Sachin being in adequate form, he was kept out of the Indian team for the ODI leg of India’s tour to Bangladesh in May, 2007, rather cynically by the selectors under the pretext of “rest.”
However, in the Test series that followed, he showed how a billion hopes still rested on his shoulders. He managed to score two back-to-back hundreds in that series and hence, was once again elevated to being constantly in the scheme of things in Indian cricket. The ghost of being called “lions at home and cubs abroad” returned to haunt India during the season of 2007. Critics were quite right in conferring this sobriquet to the Indian team because it had been quite a while since India performed well outside the subcontinent. However, things changed for the better in India’s tour of England in the summer of 2007. The jelly beans incident spurred India on to achieve new pedestals for itself and Sachin was fulfilling his role of being the senior-most member in the team in the best way possible.
He set standards for the entire team to achieve through his bat and led the team in an effective manner to its first win over England at their bastion since 1986. Sachin getting out in the nervous nineties had become a subject of national discussion during this time. The fact that he had to take the long route back to the pavilion seven times, while he was in nineties, in 2007 was a reason enough for his well-wishers to start praying for a century. What hurt his fans across the globe was that Sachin was robbed on many occasions of a well-deserved century, thanks to some umpiring blunders. However, Sachin’s healthy relation with the Sydney Cricket Ground continued during India’s tour to Australia in 2008. Spurred by the Monkeygate scandal, the team was yearning to avenge its loss in the preceding Test series. That series united the whole of India like no other scandal.
India-Australia was the new India-Pakistan and that series was bigger than the Ashes for the cricketing fraternity. It was in such a pressure cooker situation that Sachin finally managed to add one point which his CV seemed to be bereft of. An ODI century in Australia. He did that and he did that in some style and a certain glitz attached to it. He punished the bowlers all around the park in Sydney on a March day in 2008 for a ton. He followed that up with a well-made 91 and ensured that India went home with a vengeful CB Series win against the Aussies.
That series somewhat went on to instill a lot of self-belief and Indians were supremely confident about beating anyone on any given day. A revolution was in the making in Indian cricket. And like many of the earlier ones, Sachin was at the center of this change too. Given that Brian Charles Lara had retired, the spot for scoring the highest number of test runs was up for grabs. And only one name was in the reckoning-Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. What was left to be seen was when and how he will scale the summit. And as expected, Sachin managed to reach the pinnacle of test cricket on October 17, 2008 by steering promising debutante Peter Siddle for a boundary towards third man at Nagpur. However, in this transition from being a youngster to being the senior-most member in the team, Sachin had to give up his attacking role and play a sheet-anchor role.
What happened during this course was that Sachin of the 90s was a thing of the past. However, coming into bat against Australia when India were chasing a steep target of 350 at Hyderabad in an important tie in Australia’s tour of India, 2009-10, he seemed to provide the youngsters with a blast from the past. He blasted his way to 175 runs of merely 141 balls albeit in a losing cause. That innings went on to prove how an institute named Sachin Tendulkar was very much alive and kicking. He truly epitomized the saying, “Age is just a number.” And for him, records were meant to be broken.
New breeds of batsmen were around the corner and were screaming to be bought into the side with the advent of T20 cricket. It seemed that Saeed Anwar’s 194 might finally be breached. Charles Coventry already had bagged the record, albeit in a low-profile series against the Bangladeshis, by scoring an unconquered 194 and was in striking distance of scoring a double century. But as was the case with most of the batting records, this Everest was meant to be scaled by the Superman from India-Sachin Tendulkar. He did that and he did that with oodles of confident stroke playing. On a hot and humid day at Nagpur, Sachin further sent the temperatures soaring by scoring an improbable 200 against the visiting Proteas on 24thFebruary, 2010. This innings made everyone stand up and take notice that the biggest star in cricket was born.
Life changed drastically after that one innings. It filled the hearts of the whole of India with nothing but adulation for their very own Master Blaster. Anything less than the status of GOD for Sachin was deemed derogatory by scores of his fans. Online petitions were being signed to confer the title of “Sir” for Sachin Tendulkar. As if a statue at Madame Tussauds was not enough. This craze could be seen during the ensuing IPL season. And Sachin did not fail to deliver.
As if he was a man on a mission, he went on to prove that he was a far better captain than his stint as an Indian captain seemed to suggest. He led the team and he led them by example. His field settings were immaculate; his decisions were bang on target. His charm and elegance came to the fore when he had Sunil Gavaskar, the Little Master, bowing to him! He appeared to have the Midas touch all of a sudden. For whatever he seemed to touch turned to gold. Mumbai Indians, which were rotting somewhere near the bottom of the table last year, were the prime contenders for the trophy this season. Moreover, he did yeoman’s service to Indian cricket by displaying the talents of the likes of Satish Rajagopal, Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu and making a strong statement to the world that the future of the game in the country was in safe hands.
He has given countless joyous moments to the whole of India and will continue to do so. He has epitomized batting like no one else. Sir Don will be proud somewhere in the heavens for having successfully hit the nail on its heads when he said that he saw traces of his batting in Sachin. He has taught the entire human race as to how one can be humble despite having every comfort. He is the story of success of not only India but of the entire world. He symbolizes the rags-to-riches tale and shows that how important passion, determination and dedication can be to reach the top. He shows how one can keep his cool despite being under the public glare for so long and being under tremendous pressure every time he goes out to bat. His life is a lesson-for the young and old, alike. We will be correct in stating that Sachin Tendulkar truly has left an indelible impact in the annals of this beautiful game.
Posted on July 9, 2010, in Sachin Tendulkar and tagged 200, Ambati Rayudu, Australia, BCCI, cricket, Damien Fleming, Don Bradman, Glenn McGrath, Greg Chappell, icc, Imran Khan, india, Indian team, IPL, IPL 2010, ipl 3, Kapil Dev, ODI, Peter Siddle, rahul dravid, Sach is Like, Sachin, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, Sachin RT, sachin tendulkar, Satish Rajagopal, Saurabh Tiwary, Shane Warne, Sir Don Bradman, South africa, SRT, Sunil Gavaskar, t20 world cup, test cricket, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.