On the night of April 2 2011, the Wankhede was much more than just a stadium. It was a colosseum where the dreams of millions of Indians culminated. A tidal wave of noise that began on land and spread towards the skies, as India won the World Cup after 28 years.
Fast forward two years later, the Wankhede stadium was host to the last match of the person who mesmerized people all around the world with his batting. The famous ‘dabbawala’ system stopped only for the second day since its inception; the first being the day of Indian Independence. The nation was holding its breath.
The manner of his departure bore the stamp of the man; not for him the fanfare of final glory nor a final doffing of the hat. He wouldn’t be human if he’d wished for a better finish than the airy, un-Sachin like waft that carried the ball into the hands of slip in his final innings . Narsingh Deonarine proved to be the villain as he ended the career of a master, a God; but a cricketer before all.
From Manchester to Mirpur, Prodigy to Phenomenon, the name says it all. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was the jewel of Indian cricket. He turned from being a prodigious teenager to a human masterpiece when he shocked the world as he manhandled the England bowling at Old Trafford in 1990 to a mature and classy man who stroked himself into the record books about 2 decades later as he scored the first double century in One Day Internationals.
Tendulkar’s retirement brought an end to an era. An era which had witnessed the likes of Brian Charles Lara, Ricky Terrence Ponting and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Whilst these two are just two of his very famous contemporaries, there were many others who compiled what many argue was the greatest era of cricket.
Sachin has transformed the gentleman’s game like none other. Nobody succeeds all the time. And nobody is destined to be a failure either. Success is just failure delayed and failure is just success delayed. Failure isn’t final nor is success permanant. But. There’s always a but. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar defied all odds, battled the mightiest attacks, faced the most dangerous of the bowlers, played in every possible condition and came out triumphant each and every time.
While many claim Lara to be the most elegant of the lot, it was the more technique oriented Mumbaikar who got the pat on the back from the Don. Sachin brought a nation of a billion plus to a halt. Sachin gave a new lease of life for cricket enthusiasts in the Sub Continent nation of India who were too timid to see their side loosing time and time again to other countries.
In these two decades, Sachin Tendulkar has proven why he was and will forever be the greatest batsman.
He has conquered the greatest heights, battled the mightiest attacks and led a depleted army from the jaws of defeat into memorable victories. From Sydney to St. Lucia, Bombay to Bristol and from Colombo to Cape Town, he has battered and bruised them all. Sachin’s success has been instrumental in India’s rise over the past two decades.
His sheer determination and dedication towards the game has brought him up to the man he is today.
The sight of the maestro Tendulkar walking out to bat along with the Bengal Tiger Saurav Ganguly was a sight to behold. The booming straight drive, elegant cover drive and the trademark cut was all part of the Tendulkar repertoire.
His debut match taught him quite a few things. Perseverance and determination after being hit on his nose. A bloodied nose didn’t deter him from continuing his innings.He would later say that that incident was a very decisive part in his career as that thought him what test cricket was all about.
The 2003 World Cup was all about Sachin as he stroked his way into getting the player of the tournament by quite a large margin. His 673 runs propelled India into the finals but he didn’t deliver in the grand stage and with Tendulkar gone, the formalities were completed as the Aussies finished off the Indian batting as they fell like a pack of cards.
One very famous innings in the World Cup is the epic 98 against neighbours Pakistan. Sachin as usual opened the innings along with Virender Sehwag. Throughout the tournament, it was Sehwag who played the first ball but this time Tendulkar decided that he would play the first ball as he believed that he should be the one to tackle Pakistan’s captain, the great Wasim Akram. That match showcased Tendulkar at his brilliant best and as well as his thoughtfulness for his teammate, Sehwag.
Going back to his last test, it was something phenomenal to say the least. The 74 runs he scored in his final innings ended the pre-eminence of a career that lasted more than two decades While not many remember his final innings, one thing that’ll surely last in the memories of every cricket fan is his speech that made millions cry.
He didn’t prepare one because he wanted the emotions to spring up. They did.Sachin carefully crafted the end of his last innings as he thanked each and every person who supported him throughout his journey in which he converted the stones thrown at him into milestones and sometimes when the volcano in him erupted and the lava destroyed the opposition.
When great people’s lives end or when sportsmen like Sachin retire, they generally take a part of us with them. A part which rejoiced each and every cover drive that fizzed off the cricket turf. A part of us that enthusiastically waited for the fall of a wicket for him to come and demolish the bowlers like he always did. He held the expectations of a billion plus on his shoulder for almost two decades.
He was part of a new century, a new millennium and four decades while playing cricket. But still the humility and grace embodied in him didn’t change one bit over the years. His last test signalled the end of the trademark ‘Sachin Saa-chin’ chants that electrified every stadium in which he played and that is one sound that’ll be reverberating in the ears of any Sachin fan for a long time to come.
Not many in the world have got farewells like what he did, but each and every one of us would duly agree it was worth it. The obligatory hoisting-on-the-shoulders during his lap of honour signified the end of a career of the Superman from India.
Every time he performed his best on a cricket field, the connoisseur is sure that it is a manifestation of genius, a glorious sporting event that occurs rarely. Some work to win, some slog to win yet others struggle to win. Tendulkar on the other hand was born to win.
The plethora of praises Sachin received was far greater than the man ever expected and one can assuredly say that cricket will never be the same without him.