And the chant goes on.And he plays on.21 years...Still playing,winning hearts,bringing glory,tearing opposition apart,tonking fours and sixes,making the streets look as if they have a curfew,this special boy(at heart) from mumbai is none other than the "little in strature,big on heart" Mr Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
Its like i have grown with him,watching him play,rejoicing when he(and if thats the case,more often than not,the team) does well,cursing when he fails,keeping his records for him(not possible now,the numbers are too huge and the records piling),feeling proud of the man when an honour is bestowed upon him etc.Like me,he has touched the life and times of many worldmen(great people arent property of one nation),has inspired many toddlers to risk a muscle strain in picking up that extra heavy bat,has lead to a tremendous loss to the exchequer by having all people not working but watching him play instead,has set the adrenaline pumping by his deft touches and equally brute force.Imagine the game of cricket without a certain little master!!!
The way he has decimated the opposition over the years in the most mercurial fashion,the way he has transformed the record books into his own biography,the way he has made the game of cricket into a game that captures the imagination of the young and the old is the same way that this great son of india leads his normal life.Immortality comes to him naturally.
All the accolades accrued to this so called "thorn in the flesh" of the bowlers the world over are nothing but the results of the dedication,passion and unmatched pride for playing for one`s nation.When he scored that gritty and unshakable half century against pakistan in his first series,people knew that something special was lurking behind the innocuous facade of this 16 years 205 days old chubby boy.And when he scored that marvellous first test century vs england at old trafford,the talent had finnaly arrived.The boy now firmly in the vision of the cricket fraternity as one of the young shining stars,alongside a certain carribean genius to be ,proved his mettle beyond his age when he scored that sensational century against the aussies at the tearing fast wicket of Perth.The boy had really arrived!!!
Records tumbled ,bowlers`s hair line receded ,crowds swelled in the grounds as this little master started mayhem.After the tests it was the turn of the one dayers.After waiting for about 72 matches ,he scored his first ton.But his destructive prowess at the top of the lineup was a legend even before that.The ODI world cup in 1996 proved to be a showcase of his immeasurable talent.The tournament tough a dud for india,took sachin to new echelons.Still owen young, this curly haired genius from the back alleys of dadar was now a senior and un-severable member of the indian cricket mix.The english season in 1996-97 which also saw two modern day greats in sourav ganguly and rahul dravid donn the indian blue test cap for the first time,was abuzz with the talent of this man from mumbai.
Next monumental period in sachins career came in the year 1998.In line were the aussies who were tryin to tame the subcontinet elephant but were caught unawares by this lion from the indian den.Shane warne nightmared,sachin sweep slogged;mark taylor bowed head,sachin raised his bat.After trouncing the aussies in the tests,sachin showed his class in the sharjah tournament where once again he proved to be juggernaut for the men from down under.
With the aussies again visiting india in 2001 ,this time with 16 test wins in a row,they were again stalled by sachin`s century in the chennai test.Remembering Chennai,who can forget the tale of sachin crying after failing to bring india home against pakistan after scoring 136 and India felling agonizingly 17 runs short of a famous win over its arch rivals.
The year:2003 ,another world cup ,another scintillating performance by Sachin.
These mention of great innings cannot be complete without the mention of sachin`s 241 against australia at SCG or his truly majestic 169 against South Africa in one of the leanest summers for indian team.Such Innings by him are aplenty.But as the saying goes, where resides the genius the brickbats follow.
The Tennis elbow....the term now immortalised as something that rendered sachin powerless, a lion without tooth & claws, a task hitherto thought impossible by normal events.The performance faded ,so did the people`s memory,they started criticizing the player ,his technique,his temperament,his attitude(that was by greg chappell,cant believe he said it!),his longevity(manjrekar,kapil dev,ian chappell suggesting he take retirement),his failed ability to lead( only blot in otherwise a spotless career),his ability to score runs quickly and what not.They said that the old sachin was gone..was thing of the past...was a shadow of his previous self...was being now unwillingly towed by the team as a inanimate log.The criticism escalated to burning of effigies,stone pelting,criticism related to his other financial commitments...but the worse of them all and undoubtedly the one where sachin would have felt the needle was the booing he got from his home ground crowd at wankhede.
The elevation of other players like sehwag,ponting also paled the old veteran in all eyes.The genius was forgotten,the crowd called for the head of their hero....
But as Michael Holding says on TV in his famous carribean accent "Form is temporary,class is permanent"...Sachin roared back...Ala re ..sachin ala re..
The spectre of failure got dissolved in the bright light of hope.The Ghost was back from the shadows to haunt the bowlers the world over.Scoring the only 200 in one day cricket is testimony to the qualities that the man possess to keep changing himself,his ablility to adapt.
Then came the IPL...the 2010 edition brought to the fore the short version of genius.The fickle format of 20-20 also gave in to sheer class and masterful strokeplay of sachin.His trademark check straight drives(on and off),flowing cover drives,Ferocious cuts and pulls,elegant flicks on the legside,backfoot punch of good length balls,improvised paddle sweeps ,towering sixes...all were on display.The audience were captivated,although he couldn`t take his team all the way,he reminded s that this 37 years he still is a force to reckon with.
In many ways sachin tendulkar has been a talisman for indian cricket.Cricket and sachin enjoys a relationship as spice to curry,butter to parantha,romance to relationship,pureness to gold,common sense to intellect.He brings that fervour to the table...so much so that wasim akram quaked to abdur razzak once.."tujhe pata hai tune kiska catch chhoda hai "...so much so that glenn mcgrath appeals for a shoulder before wicket to get him back to pavillion...so much so that he is akin to god in cricket...The comparisons with sir donald bradman is just a eulogy to the aussie great.
Who had known at the time when sachin and kambli were involved in that then world record partnership that this fragile looking boy would go on to make the bowlers chew their nails,scratch their heads,legends of the game sing paeans and become the prized scalp for cricket lovers the world over.Tweeter introduced,he became a rage there also ,garnering 70000 followers in jut 2-3 hours.
Anil kumble on track to pick up all 10 wickets in a test match hands his cap between overs to sachin...for luck..we are extremely lucky that a certain Dennis Lillee suggested sachin to throw away the red cherry and pick up the wooden slab in his formative years ,otherwise we would have been deprived to see the greatest show of cricket on earth and would have missed the incarnation of GOD himself....
1 fan to other during a tight match :::
"arre ..abhi to bahut ran banane hai yaar ...india haar jaayegi shayad ..."
other says with pride and confidence....
"chinta mat kar ...abhi sachin baaki hai .."