50th Birthday: The A to Z of Sachin Tendulkar
New Delhi: To the Indians, Sachin Tendulkar is the man for “all seasons”.
It has been 10 years since he bid farewell to international cricket, leaving the nation full of moist eyes.
As India’s favourite son completes his 50th birthday, PTI chronicles his life and times in an alphabetical manner. It could be people, places and events related to the great man, which have dominated our lives for a better part of three-and-a-half decades.
A (Anjali, Arjun, Ajit) As Sachin Tendulkar maintains, better-half Anjali is the “best partnership” of his life. Son Arjun is carrying forward the Tendulkar legacy on the cricket pitch. And, had it not been for brother Ajit’s efforts, who knows we would been deprived of the batting wizardry of the man from Bandra.
B (Bristol) The venue will always have an emotional connect with Tendulkar. It was here that he scored 140 against Kenya but, more importantly, it came less than a week after the death of his father, Professor Ramesh Tendulkar.
C (Centurion) The venue in South Africa where Tendulkar perhaps played one of his greatest ODI knocks — 98 versus Pakistan during the 2003 World Cup. The six off pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar over point will always be remembered by fans.
D (‘The Don’) Sir Don Bradman will forever remain the ‘Greatest’ with his average of 99.94. But when ‘The Don’ said the “little fella’s” batting style resembled his, the debate on contemporary cricket’s best batter ended there.
E (Eden Gardens) Wankhede, where Tendulkar played his 200th Test, might be his soul but Eden Gardens, where he played his 199th game, remains one of his favourite grounds. Tendulkar the bowler attained superstardom when he bowled the epic last over in the Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa in 1993. India managed to defend 195 by restricting the Proteas to 193/9, with Tendulkar conceding just three runs in the 50th over. F (Ferrari) Tendulkar’s favourite car and also his favourite Formula One team. He was the proud owner of a gleaming red Ferrari back in the day when the company decided to present him one in 2002 for equalling the record of 29 Test centuries by Sir Don.
G (Gujranwala) Tendulkar ended his ODI career with 49 hundreds but the first of his 463 games was played in this Pakistani city. How much did he score on debut? Well, he didn’t trouble the scorers.
H (Harris Shield) The famous Mumbai Inter-school cricket tournament, where the world first came to know about Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar after his 664-run stand with Vinod Kambli.
I (Inzamam ul Haq) The former Pakistan captain had an interesting story to tell. His son Ibtisam was a big fan of Tendulkar. During the 2004 historic tour of Pakistan, Inzamam actually brought his school-going son during an Indian practice session to introduce him to Tendulkar.
J (John McEnroe) Tendulkar is a tennis buff and during his teenage years, he used to be a big fan of American John McEnroe. Old-timers say that, like McEnroe in the early 80s, the curly-haired Indian genius could be seen moving around his housing society wearing a red headband.
K (Vinod Kambli) Tendulkar’s childhood buddy, Kambli was his partner in that world-record stand of 664 runs in Harris Shield. Kambli’s famous comment on Tendulkar is still one of the most quotable quotes: “Sachin went to the top riding a lift. I had to take the staircase”.
L (Brian Lara) The debate on who between the two was the bigger cricketer will never cease. But to enjoy Sachin Tendulkar’s class, one also needs to appreciate Brian Lara’s panache. The two lit up the 90s like never before and the mutual respect was there for everyone to see. They brought so much grace into rivalry.
M (Glenn McGrath) Tendulkar versus McGrath was the contest that made Test cricket so lively. The two master operators gave it their all when they were competing against each other. Not even an inch of territory was conceded, and their duels in the 1990s and 2000s remain one of the most fascinating rivalries of all time.
N (Narsingh Deonarine) Narsingh Deonarine’s international career is nothing to write home about but the West Indian cricketer will forever cherish being the last-ever bowler to dismiss Tendulkar in international cricket — during the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium in 2013. Sachin was dismissed for 74 by the off-spinner in a match India won by an innings and 126 runs.
O (Old Trafford) No cricket venue in the world is more dear to Tendulkar’s heart than Old Trafford in Manchester. This is the ground where he scored the first of his 100 international hundreds. The unbeaten 119 enabled India to save the second Test of the 1990 series against England.
P (Peshawar) It was the venue where world cricket first took note of the teenage Indian prodigy who hit 53 off just 18 balls. It was an exhibition match curtailed due to rain, but Sachin played a T20-style innings to regale the spectators and make a lasting impression on them.
Q (Abdul Qadir) When we talk about that Peshawar game, can Abdul Qadir be far behind? On several occasions, Tendulkar has recounted the instance where Qadir tried to sledge him after he had launched into Mushtaq Ahmed. “Bacche ko kya marte ho, humein maar ke dikhao? The rest is history as Tendulkar clobbered Qadir for 28 runs in an over.
R (Rahul Dravid) An excellent batter in his own right, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are the most successful Test-batting pair with 20 century-plus stands between them and 6,920 cumulative runs in partnerships.
S (Shivaji Park Gymkhana) This is where it all started. Under the watchful eyes of Ramakant Achrekar, Tendulkar learnt the ropes of the game at this very ground, considered to be the cradle of Mumbai cricket.
T (Toronto) The Skating and Curling Club ground at Toronto will always be special for Tendulkar. It was here that he got his first ‘Man of the Match’ award as captain after scoring an unbeaten 89 off 89 balls in a winning cause against Pakistan.
U (U2) Tendulkar is a Lata Mangeshkar devotee but when it comes to English songs, he is a big fan of world famous Irish rock band U2. His favourite U2 song is “Where Streets Have No Name”.
V (Virat Kohli) The day Tendulkar retired, Virat Kohli gifted his chain, which was his father’s memory, to Tendulkar and sang “Tujh Mein Rabh Dikhtar Hai” inside the Wankhede dressing room.
W (Wimbledon) A tournament Tendulkar has hardly missed. The legend makes an annual pilgrimage to SW19 and can be seen sitting in one of the VIP zones watching marquee Centre Court matches.
X (St Xavier’s School) It was this particular school against whom Tendulkar and Kambli, playing for Sharadashram Vidyamandir, scored 664 runs in Harris Shield.
Y (Yorkshire) English county side Yorkshire has been in the midst of several racism allegations but in 1990, they received Tendulkar with open arms. The Indian icon was the first overseas player recruited by the club.
Z (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe bowler Henry Olonga had rattled Tendulkar with a bouncer that the Indian fended and was out caught by close-in fielders during a league game of the 1998 Champions Trophy in Sharjah. However, in the final the icon scored 124 runs as India won by 10 wickets with 120 balls to spare.