Prajna Prasad Sravan Kumar
Thank you Sachin for all the joy you have showered on us with your each outing to the crease, with each stroke you played,for all the heart breaks you orchestrated with your each dismissal, for all the sense of unity and integrity. Thank you Master for the Billion Dreams..
After the demise of my dearest grandparents tears were never so inconsolable, not even in the untimely departure of my young relatives nor in the heart breaks after over indulgence in love in my late teens, when I saw my childhood hero, my master, my legend Sachin biding adieu to international cricket in his home ground Wankhede with moist eyes waving hands to the crowd for the last time. The entire cricket crazy world was in tears as here after there is no chance to see the little master playing for the country neither in whites nor in colored number 10 jerseys.
There was a sense of loss and irreplaceable void as an era came to an end. Fans with placards and banners displaying “Lord @ Lords…”,”Cricket is our Religion…Sachin is our God…,”Divided by Religion..United by Sachin…” symbolizing the utmost respect for the icon will be missed in the packed gallery of any cricket stadium. Now onwards, Cricket will be incomplete losing its ‘T’, the charismatic Tendulkar….the Bombay lad “Tendlya”.
Like others, I do have my share of experience about Sachin and his cricket.It may not be unique, but it is one of those million stories, told or untold that reflects the collective sentiment of the nation, the constant and continuous love and appreciation of people over the period of a quarter century for an immortal cricket icon…the God of Cricket, called Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar..
My love, craze and adulation for Sachin is not now or after watching some fine innings, but from the day I started playing the gentlemen’s game in the brazen lands of my village with a bat made up of the stem of Palas tree, decorated with a post card size photo of Sachin on the front and ball made up of repetitive rounds of the cuts of cycle tubes as village lads like me could hardly afford to have a kit of their own.
The love for Sachin got fueled after listening to my brother and others about the heroics of the cricketing genius like the decisive final over bowling in the semi final of Hero Cup against the Proteas in 1993. In the mid 90’s, mine was a village of more than 300 households with just four (yes, only four) television sets that too without any cable connection or setup box. But like any other Indian village, there were cricket fans of three generations in each and every family. For every bit of live cricket, our biggest asset and strength was the radio set my father had bought during his CT training days in the early 70’s. It was the first match of India in the 1996 Wills World Cup against Kenya, my keen involvement with Cricket, so Sachin started through the Odia commentary of All India Radio as the venue was Barabati Stadium, Cuttack.
To my exuberant jubilation, Sachin scored a century. This was the first century of Sachin,I started counting. Since then,I have been following him through the sports pages of various news papers and magazines and counting his number of centuries like the countless Sachin fans do across the globe. I was in cloud nine when India restricted Srilanka to only 250 odd runs in the semi final of 96 world cup. I was jumping in sheer joy as I was sure in my heart, soul and mind that India will make to the finals and lift the World Cup with the mighty one man army Sachin Tendulkar on the side. When Team India lost Tendulkar’s wicket, the rest is history. To my immature cricketing mind, it was hard to accept the fact that cricket is a game of uncertainties.
The desperation to watch Sachin in action on screen gave so much of humiliation and inferiority complex in childhood. But never did mind getting humiliated by the TV set household owners for shamelessly approaching to get an entry to their drawing room to have a glimpse of my icon, appeasing the owner by some means or other before any cricket season starts. Then every bitter experience turned better with every best innings from the master, every hook or pull, every cover drive or upper cut.
For me everything was fail in the love for Sachin. So while studying in class seventh, never missed a single lunch break to go to the local JK Bahinipati library with my friend and eagerly waited for the right mauka (chance) to cut color photographs of Tendulkar from various sports magazines.
All my old rough notepads has turned into an album capturing the various moods of the master. I have enriched the piggy bank of Santosh, my senior in primary school and so my collection of photographs of Sachin with 20 paisa for each piece of photograph. That night will remain ever green and vivid in my memories when I ran away from home with a relative cousin and the 24 inch Hercules cycle of my father and spent a night in an unknown’s house taking roti and mix veg fry in their home to see the final of the ODI series between India and South Africa in the year 1997. Every fan of cricket and Sachin remembers the year 1998 for the nightmarish experience he has given to the bowlers. In that one calendar year, the batting juggernaut has scored 12 centuries.
My intermediate days and Sachin had a healthy connection. In our English curriculum, the first chapter was about Sachin Tendulkar titled “The Long Distance Runner” authored by Lokendra Pratap Sahi, a renowned sports journalist. The chapter was about the impact of the historic world cup win of India in 1983 on a child prodigy of 10 years young called Sachin and his decision to go for cricket sidelining his equal passion for Tennis.
The ultimate choice of Sachin for cricket implies the fact that Wimbledon’s loss has been Wankhede’s win. If in the year 2000, he was the long distance runner, then by the winter of 2013, what would have been the title of the chapter? The intermediate days become even more memorable for me for the fact that I couldn’t resist myself from slapping one of my roommates in the hostel due to some of his negative remarks about Sachin. As a dire consequence, there was no exchange of words between me and my friend for more than two years. This is one of those countless verbal duels I have been a part of and never did regret for those bitter experiences because of Sachin.
It was always a dream to watch Sachin sitting in the gallery of a stadium, at least from that of Barabati Stadium of Cuttack as most of my life was confined to the geographical boundaries of Odisha till the completion of my graduation. The long unfulfilled dream transformed to a reality on 11th Oct 2010, the 2nd day of the final test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,Bangalore. I saw my hero in action for the first time in reality paying a whooping amount than the actual ticket price. My pulse rate was more than double as if my heart will choke the very next moment with sheer joy and excitement as I saw the mass mesmerizer for the first time.
The atmosphere was charged with the chants of Sachiiiin…Sachiin..Sachiiin…Sachiin.. It was full of rhythm, full of symphony and was like a wave in motion from one part of the gallery to the other. As the legend was on 93, the whole crowd was on toes but I couldn’t gather the courage to see him scoring a hundred as I had hardly seen him on screen removing his helmet and showing the bat to the Almighty, his demised father and the fans after reaching the three digit figure. Most of the time I preferred to listen to the same from others or see the highlights. I was shivering with thrill, joy and nervousness and the next moment the craze doubled as it was a six on the long on and he was on 99.
Again the heart beat doubled.. the next delivery…a massive six….oh…! What a joy… What a moment…what a feeling…Then I was relaxed and free of nervousness. And it was the beginning of my hour long slogans, shouts and mischief and expressions. I messaged my brother, friends and acquaintances with the text “Watching a legend on the birth day of another legend…”. I realized my childhood dream on the birthday of the legendary Amitabh Bachchan.
As it was a result oriented test match, I decided to see my master once more on the last day of the test match. This time I was accompanied with ten friends of mine with the tricolor on the face well before the beginning of the day’s play to see Sachin, the fielder. To our fortune, he was just 20 meters away from our place. The ambience was soaked with our constant shouting of Bhaina…..Bhaina…Sachiiin…Sachiin. Tears of joy rolled down seeing the icon so close.
When it’s about Sachin, my ideology is bit different. The preoccupation of mind is such that even if India wins without Sachin’s major contribution, it hardly brings any joy to me like many. Neither the devastating 183 of Sourav against Srilanka in the 1999 world cup nor the explosive 219 of Virendra Sehwag against West Indies impressed me as in the first one my hero’s contribution was negligible and in the later one, he was not a part of the Indian squad. Though I have immense respect for other greats, but never liked the comparison between those and Sachin.
For me,Sachin is incredible, above all sorts of comparision. He is a super human,the epitome of excellence, humility and perseverance. The more excited his willow, the more grounded he becomes. Ponting may have championed in captaincy, Lara may have scored 400* in a test innings, Kallis may have excelled in all round performances, Gayle may have scored the fastest ton in T20. But no one has matched Sachin, the human being and the lasting legacy he has left behind. No one has ever carried billion’s hope for such a long period. No one has ever invoked the sense patriotism and national integration to such an extent like Sachin did over a period of more than twenty years. No other player has got such tremendous respect,honor and adoration like him from the opponents.
The tweet of Australian Great Mathew Hayden about Sachin “I have seen God, he bats at no.4 for India” is a testimony to the above fact. The euphoria after getting a call from my friend about the double ton of Bhaina (we address Sachin as bhaina, means elder brother) at Gwalior against the mighty South African pace attack will remain vivid in my memory unless it gets rebooted due to some unfortunate mishap.
Whether the opponents are champions or minnows.. Whether the player at the attacking end is Akram or Ambrose, Saqlin or Shane,Murali or McGrath,Walsh or Waqar..Whether the venue is Mumbai or Multan, Perth or Port of Spain,Delhi or Durban,Kochi or Karachi,Nagpur or Nairobi,Hambantota or Harare,Madras or Melbourne, Calcutta or Christchurch..Whether it is an ODI or the longer format.. Whether the sponsor is MRF or Adidas, one man ruled every heart.. friends or foes, the whole cricket loving pantheon, carrying all hope and happiness with his willow between the 22 yards is Sachin,the maestro.
Thank you Sachin for all the joy you have showered on us with your each outing to the crease, with each stroke you played,for all the heart breaks you orchestrated with your each dismissal, for all the sense of unity and integrity. Thank you Master for the Billion Dreams..Thank you Sachin for all the memories..Thank you Bhaina…Thank you my Bharat Ratna.
(Prajna Prasad Sravan Kumar is an IT professional)