It has been 840 days since I last wrote on my blog. I have been putting it away for so long now, but I finally feel like I should write about a phenomenon that has made itself available to the world of cricket for the last 24 years - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. I am not going to write about his achievements, his highs, his lows, his highest scores, his records, his slump in the last two years or anything of that sort. I write this to try and get rid of that pit at the bottom of my stomach. Deepak Narayanan wrote "WHEN DO YOU THINK IT'LL SINK IN?" and spoke on behalf of umpteen million fans who are going through the same feeling. I second his opinion and will add that for me, it can never ever sink in.
This is an account of my favourite moments of the Great Legend that is SRT. This includes some of his famous innings - but then again, which innings of his isn't famous, but more importantly it includes some moments that, in my mind, define the man that has carried the batting hopes of the billion who all know what it means to bowl inswingers, outswingers, googlies and all the words in the dictionary that stem from the game of cricket.
In Test cricket, there are two innings, both at MAC Stadium, Chennai that are the most unforgettable:
1. Sachin - Australia: 1998 @ Chennai on Day 4
Sachin had scored only 4 runs and was out caught to a brilliant slip catch by Mark Taylor. The Sachin fanatic that I am, I was convinced that he will score a century in the second innings and I was begging my dad to let me go for the match instead of going to school. But my dad said "What if he doesn't score a century?? Its ok, we will go on Tuesday and watch India win because that will be more fun". The true believer in me was hurt by the skepticism in my dad's words and I dragged my feet to school only to walk up between every class to the building watchman at school to check the score. With every passing hour, Sachin was destroying the likes of Shane Warne and Gavin Robertson without the blink of an eye and amassed 155*. That innings will probably remain unforgettable for life. I wish I had a time machine to go back to that day. Here it is:
2. Sachin - Pakistan: 1999 @ Chennai on Day 5
One of Sachin's most well known knocks that went in vain as Saqlain and some poor batting from India's tail made sure that Pakistan won this classic test match at Chepauk. With a sore back and a back brace to hold it together this man played a whole day and did all that he could single-handedly to win the match for India. to me, the grit and determination to hang in there, and play that ever so difficult paddle sweep in which he brings the bat from 12 o clock on the dial time and again, stand out as unforgettable moments. This match also had one of the greatest balls ever bowled by a fast bowler when Wasim Akram got Rahul Dravid out bowled.
There are several centuries in ODI cricket that Sachin has hit that will stay on eternally as unmatched gems in Sachin's career, but my favourite moments of his in ODIs are the following:
1. Sachin - Mcgrath: Nairobi
Most favourite of them all is Sachin's demolition of Mcgrath at Nairobi where he struck a six and a four by coming down the track and then that majectic shot for which Harsha Bhogle exclaims "That's not in Nairobi!!!". And to follow these up with an elegant cover drive on the up. For those who could not find the link, here it is:
2. Sachin - Caddick: Durban
Sachin shuts up Andy Caddick with the best hook shot he has hit till date! I haven't heard a word out of Caddick since that day!!
Sachin's stupendous innings against one of the deadliest bowling attacks from Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup.
I do not have any moments I want to share from Sachin's T20 exploits, since I think that Test and ODI cricket are what truly define the greatness of this man.
There will be great batsmen in the future, there will be record breaking master blasters, but there will never be anyone like Sachin Tendulkar for a long time to come. My only request to my fellow cricket fans is - Please do not expect his son to try and emulate his dad, that is nearly impossible!