Sachin Tendulkar – End of an era, take a bow!

With curtains coming down on a glorious career living the dreams of millions of fans, a lot of emotion and sentiments were let loose, I thought I would repost some of my blog posts and tweets (a few of them critical as well) on the great man as my tribute.

20 years of my superhero!
Why I’d prefer watching good tennis than good cricket more often!
Sachin Tendulkar – 200* !
If you can’t appreciate, at least don’t sling mud!

Looks like I predicted it right more than 3 years ago 🙂

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If you can’t appreciate, at least don’t sling mud!

On the backdrop of Sachin Tendulkar’s undefeated double hundred in an ODI, a lot of issues on how a lot of people consider Tendulkar have started getting to me, hence this post. The first thing that is so often said about the genius is that ‘he always plays for himself’. The surprising thing is that a lot of those who say such mean things don’t have anything to back it. Is playing for your country in the World Cup a couple of days after your father’s death called ‘selfish’ or can any of those persons who claim Tendulkar is a selfish player quote where he has played selfishly to cause India to lose a match.

Some other group of people may say that Indian team winning is more important than Sachin Tendulkar playing well, yeah I do agree. But they also make a silly statement that ‘If it is India or Tendulkar, I will choose India’. Yeah I appreciate their patriotism, but isn’t supporting a fellow human, a fellow Indian who also has the same amount of patriotism, equally important. I know India is country which takes pride in ‘Unity in diversity’ and that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression and thought, but it is really *bad* to use it to sling mud on someone who is as patriotic and far more skilled! Anyone know how it is to face a Shoaib Akthar or a menacing Dale Steyn at full throttle and still come out with blazing guns? Can someone shoulder the expectations of a nation of about billion people for more than twenty years on the trot and still be successful more often than not?

Also there was a lot of noise caused when BCCI, a few years ago, famously mentioned that ‘all the players of the cricket team represented BCCI and not India!’ To the people who think so, I would point my middle finger at them and swear obscenely! Sportsmen with supreme skill and mastery deserve whole-hearted appreciation without any man-made boundaries and barriers – I love Roger Federer as much as I love Tendulkar and I am more attached to Tendulkar as he is a fellow Indian. He is a fine man on and off the field and definitely a role model for a lot of budding Indians!

Political crap often use a lot of issues to stay in the news or to play communal politics to keep the foolish voters enchanted like ‘Sachin belongs to Maharashtra first and not India before it!’ and all those assorted and canned trash. I have a few interesting thoughts in my mind regarding the whole issue:

1. How can Sachin Tendulkar play for India without scoring runs? He scores runs for India to win. Definitely a person who has played cricket for so long with undying passion knows more about cricket and playing than those noise-makers.

2. Aren’t ‘countries’ man-made boundaries for political and other reasons causing irreconcilable separation between people?  Even still, aren’t countries made up of people?

3.  Isn’t humanity more important than anything else – even patriotism?

4. When you can’t appreciate one of your own for his achievements what the hell are you going to do with your so-called patriotism? Imo, patriotism was a man-made creation to keep people united within the man-made boundaries.

If you can’t appreciate someone, just STFU!

20 years of my superhero!

This year on November 15, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar completes his 20th year in international cricket. What an incredible achievement that is. Tendulkar has always been the lone cricketer whom I loved so much as any other Indian does and he was one of the main reasons I started loving cricket more everyday. The man is such a complete human on and off the field that he seems to have a divine aura surrounding him. Of course comparisons with Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting and of course the Don himself will always be there, but none of them have even come close to experiencing the pressure and the weight of expectations that Tendulkar has had to face and succeed all these 20+ years. To have come through all such things and still have all the great cricketing records in his name, man he is the modern-day cricketing God! I am 21 years old now and this guy has been playing cricket successfully for 20 years! What a man!

Sachin Tendulkar

There is not a single eyesore when watching Tendulkar play – the divine straight drive, mesmerizing dance down the track to the spinners to hit a six, the delicate sweep and a unique paddle sweep, the brutally punishing upper-cut, inimitably perfect backfoot cover and square drive, natural flick shot, damaging hook and pull shot, the brand new reverse-sweep and scoop shots – you name any shot, this man plays it perfectly. All these years, he has grown and matured with the game, adapting himself to a variety of roles and challenges and performed outstandingly at each of them.

Enough of praising this man for whom any quantity of praise will always be insufficient. Let me quote my favorite innings that this man has played – a few of which I couldn’t watch.
1. Chennai test century against Pakistan braving a career-threatening back spasms taking India to the threshold of victory before others blew it.
2. 1998 Australian tour to India where he single-handedly took on and demolished the Aussie bowlers, particularly Shane Warne, pulling him for 4s and 6s from the rough – a territory where no one had ever dared to be in and the memorable twin “Desert Storm” innings which ensured that India made it to the finals of the tri-nation Sharjah cup and won it. After this tour, Shane Warne was no longer invincible and he started having nightmares of Tendulkar.
3. Century against Kenya in the 99 World cup a day after losing his father. He didn’t quit the tournament when he could have easily done so. He came back a day after the bereavement and hit a century and dedicated it to his father! That was very emotional and touching.
4. Brutal innings against Pakistan in the all-important 2003 World Cup encounter and I can still remember Tendulkar upper-cutting the then fastest bowler Shoaib Akthar for a six over backward point. That was quite an emphatic innings and statement made to the opposition after living in anticipation and pressure regarding that match for over a year.
5. Tendulkar has always been blamed for not winning enough matches for India, but he did single-handedly take India to an emphatic victory in the finals of the 2007-08 VB series with match-winning knocks. That was wonderful achievement for the man who has always reserved his best for the best team in the world.
6. A patient and composed century against England at Chennai took India to a victory that seemed impossible when 3 innings of the test were over with 4 sessions to play and 280 runs to win. Sehwag blasted the hapless English attack on the final session of the penultimate day to allow India a really good chance at chasing down. Still on the fifth day even though there was continuous progress in the score, wickets too were falling. At the fall of the fourth wicket, Yuvraj Singh, still sadly not a settled Test batsman came to the crease. Tendulkar shepherded him in the initial stages that Yuvraj, once settled, tore apart the attack and paved way for the improbable Indian victory with Sachin who scored the winning runs and reached his century at the same time with a boundary. Tendulkar was emotional about the victory and dedicated his match-winning knock to the victims and survivors of the gory 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, his home.
7. For a man who possesses such a silken cover drive, not to play that shot throughout a marathon innings of 241 not out is a great achievement. Tendulkar realized that he was getting dismissed playing the cover drive too often and totally cut out that shot, not even playing that shot once during a wonderful innings.
8. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, Tendulkar’s recent sublime 175 against the Australians chasing an impossible 350 which almost won the match for India reminded me a lot of the Tendulkar of old. It was such an enlightening experience watching that knock but as always Indian team failed miserably to cross the last hurdle, losing the match and breaking Tendulkar’s heart yet again.
9. Tendulkar has always played very well against the Kiwis – his first-ever double ton was against them. His highest score – highest by an Indian, 186 not out and the 160 odd not out he scored during India’s recent tour to New Zealand are fresh in memory for their exuberance and flair.

The list is endless and could go on and on, but I have to stop. Some unforgettable memories etched in mind are – the picture of Tendulkar pulling Shane Warne from the rough for a 6, uppercutting Shoaib Akthar for a six, the divine straight drive that shows up when in full flow, the hook against Andy Caddick in 2003 WC for a six, the cheeky uppercut over the slip cordon against the Aussie quicks. I have grown up with cricket and Tendulkar all my life and I can’t imagine cricket without this great man who still is as enthusiastic, passionate and energetic as he was at 16 and definitely he has a lot more years of cricket left and I am awaiting all wonderful innings eagerly. Hats off!