Revolution, in it’s simplest form, is an upheaval in a nation characterized by a great change. It’s a disciplinary change in the situation that triggers a pleasantly refreshing way of thinking and behaving. INDIA, in the 1980s, faced a challenge of sorts. INDIA was a nation stuck with dangerously outdated information about the world and an adamant refusal to update to computerization and globalization. We could see hope, we were made to believe at times, that change was coming. We saw sparks of genius shining, though on painfully rare occasions.We needed change. We needed revolution. And when we, the nation of a billion, waited and waited with bated breaths for a change, we got it, in the form of a sixteen year old boy who showed change was around the corner.
He showed the nation that impossibility, in all its context, could be redefined; limits could be relaid; and history could be rewritten, by carting Abdul Qadir, an otherwise highly revered customer in World Cricket, for three of the most astonishing sixes the world could imagine. He showed courage and prowess could conquer the most difficult enemies by deciding to continue batting for INDIA after being hit on nose by a vicious Waqar bouncer and hit the very next delivery for a four as the ball reached the fence with almost no negotiations at all, even as Navjot Singh Siddhu, who stood at the other end, thought the sixteen year old kid would run back to the pavilion, nurse the injury and sleep till late evening in pain. He redefined dexterity and adroitness by scoring an unbeaten 57 batting along with Siddhu and bailed INDIA out of an almost hopeless situation. .
At sixteen, He had created realistic expectations and already started fulfilling them. INDIA knew that a revolution was around the corner, that the nation had a new hero- Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He was the change the young INDIAN wanted to grow up with; He was the genius that an INDIAN woke up to realize was within grasp. The young INDIAN had found a new reason to believe the nation could look forward to modernization and a new way that would lead to victory. An assiduous sixteen year old was the revolution the nation was looking forward to.
The sixteen year old who took just one Test Match to acclimatize to the international standards soon metamorphosed into the Champion who scored an incredible ton on a nastily seaming Perth in 1992; made a swashbuckling 82 of 49 balls in His first innings as an ODI opener; to the savior who almost single-handedly lead INDIA to a famous win against the Aussies in the 1996 World Cup. His back-to-back tons in Sharjah in 1998 summed the kind of league He was in, the kind of class He evoked. His gritty knocks against Pakistan in 1996 were evidence enough of a legend in the making.
kind of commitment and dedication to the nation was reflected during World Cup 1999 when He had to leave it midway because of His father’s sudden demise, but returned immediately taking the earliest possible flight so that He could keep the dream of a billion INDIANS alive, since, as Gavaskar had put it then, INDIA’s chances largely depended on how Sachin Tendulkar would fare in the World Cup. He showed exceptional character to score a brilliant hundred against Kenya. His stunning performance in the World Cup’03, especially the 98 against Pakistan, a game of Olympian importance, was a testimony to the kind of mettle He was made of.
are many more such characteristic knocks that could share this page on the basis of class, but that would mean me running out of space. Such gigantic has been Sachin Tendulkar’s presence in the nation that people would clamor to watch His batting if they were denied it; some would even make sacrifices. His batting, or even mere presence used to spark hysteria, or still does so among masses and classes alike. Such monumental are His achievements that you would transfer your gaze and then lock it on Him. Tendulkar’s intrinsic cricketing brilliance in itself has lead INDIA to quite a few victories.
way He accommodated the career-threatening back and tennis elbow injuries to continue performing for INDIA at the highest level highlights the intensity and passion. The transformation from being the most attacking batsman in the world to the virtuous general who could defend and attack at the same time, to the guardian who could anchor an inning shows the quality of adaptive mindset. From being the amateur who looked to attack every ball hurled at Him to the legend who could read the situation and treat the ball accordingly, Tendulkar’s is an extra-ordinarily glittering career.
His dazzling knocks have been more about the many ways in which you can score runs adjusting to the field changes than just scoring runs. Throughout His staggering career, Tendulkar has invented millions of ways of piercing the field and coaxing the ball towards the boundary, sometimes with no negotiations at all and sometimes arguing with and just beating the fielder in pursuit to the boundary. At times, He has used the bat like a sword used to slash enemies and at another times, like a surgeon’s knife that reaches the deepest part of tissues with precision. His terrific knock of 200 against a classy South African attack spear-headed by Dale Steyn and A. Parnell is still a paradigm of how you can strike cleanly without being unorthodox and untextbookish.
His 175 against Australia in Hyderabad was all about over-powering a top-notch bowling attack right from the word go. INDIA lost that match by a whisker. But Tendulkar’s inning was lauded by one and all, for the way He scored and the kind of impact the knock had on the game. And think about this- these big hundreds came when Tendulkar was into the later half of his thirties. It’s a young man’s game, isn’t it? His 95 against Pakistan in 2006 came just 10-odd days after a few leading dailies published reports mentioning ‘Endulkar?’, thus putting a question mark on Tendulkar’s outstanding career. This is what Tendulkar is made of. You never knew when the storm was coming.
Yes, His bat did see a lean patch once or twice. But the way He used to come out of it was super-natural. That was Tendulkar; that was His character and temperament. Yet another incident that defines Tendulkar’s character and temperament is the three-ball mini-epic against Shoaib Akhtar in the WC’2003 high-voltage INDIA vs Pakistan game. The Tendulkar-Shoaib battle had gathered tremendous anticipation since the day the World Cup began, and had reached a vertigo-inducing height and had grown as big as the game, if not more. The moment finally arrived. Pin-drop silence around the ground in anticipation as the Rawalpindi Express runs in, probably faster than ever, in an effort to derail the Little Master.
Master just reaches the bouncer, tips it over the point for a stunning six, as if sending the bowl to meet it’s final destination. Then came the wristy flick and the bowl ran as if it was meant to, towards the boundary. And then the third one where the authority built in the first two gave way to dominance. As Ravi Shastri in the commentary box put it- just a gentle push. A trade mark straight-drive that teased the fielder on its way to the boundary. This was quintessentially Tendulkar. Had Tendulkar lost this mini-epic to Shoaib Akhtar, it would have meant sleepless nights to legions of fans across INDIA. But with Tendulkar, an INDIAN fan is meant to sleep peacefully. And He has given billions of such moments to cherish, and saved humiliation and disdain at the hands of opponents thousands of times.
Since the last 23 years, Tendulkar has guarded the pride and glory of the Nation. In Tendulkar Land, an INDIAN Cricket lover has always slept a peaceful night, with thousands of reasons to celebrate, and as many fantastic moments to cherish. The INDIAN Cricket Team and the Dressing Room has had the privileged presence of unparalleled talent, unquestionable commitment, exemplary temperament, great cricketing attitude and a brilliant brain that has always calculated possibilities and computed probabilities that could lead to an INDIAN victory.
Tendulkar has given us a billion moments to cherish. His outstanding ODI figures speak for Him. Statistics never lie. Tendulkar is leap years ahead of the pack. In ODIs, first there is Sachin Tendulkar, then daylight, more daylight and some more daylight and then Ricky Ponting. Tendulkar has amassed a jaw-dropping 18,426 runs at an average of 44.83 and a ridiculously good strike-rate of 86.23, with an awe-inspiring 49 tons and a stupefying 96 fifties that includes seventeen 90s. Contrary to what some fools say, His herculean statistics, especially the amazing 49 tons, have always helped INDIA secure wins, and on a few occasion save humiliating defeats.
Tendulkar has scored 11.27 percent of the total runs scored by INDIAN batsmen in all ODIs INDIA played so far. His 11157 runs scored in winning causes at a phenomenal average of 56.63 and an almost impossible strike rate of 90.31 with 33 stunning tons is still one of those many records that experts think will never be broken. And Tendulkar’s hallmark is that He has scored all these runs in all kinds of conditions on all kinds of wickets, home and away, tailor-made to suit the respective hosts. If critics and people think this contribution is not sufficient, I don’t know what is!
On December 23rd, when Tendulkar announced His retirement from ODI Cricket, he pulled curtains not just on an extra-ordinary career, but on an era of ODI Criket, on a unique way in which ODI Cricket was followed, on a special enthusiasm to watch every ODI, on . Yes, He surely deserved a grand farewell. But the way He was taken in for criticism by some foolish media-persons and spectators, I’m happy He retired. For the kind of contribution, we should have understood and stood by Him. Anyway, let bygones be bygones. I don’t want to spoil it further for Him by digging into how the media behaved.
I can never expect anything from the INDIAN media. They are hardcore businessmen meant to churn money out of anything and everything thrown at them. The less said the better. ODI Cricket has lost it’s charm. Experts across the world have always said- Test Cricket is in problems; ODI Cricket is booming. I won’t be surprised if see a turnaround in fortunes. May be soon we’ll see Test Cricket being sold-out. Yes, ODI Cricket too will continue to sell. But will be followed with the same religious fervor it used to be?
Thank you Sachin Tendulkar, for giving me what you did; thanks for making my life special; thanks for being an extremely important part of my life; thanks for everything! I owe a lot to you…
May you have a peaceful family life Sir, and everything you desire… You deserve it all more than anyone else…