It’s always a delight and a privilege to post the thoughts of Rajesh Kannan at 99.94. Here he is with a heavy heart.
I think this might be it.
Sometime in the next 2-3 weeks, I think Sachin Tendulkar is going to say that the mind is willing etc etc. I hope he does, and I want him to, but that is purely because I don’t want him to bow out on a metaphorical wheelchair.
Going out ingloriously in a humiliating defeat at home is not how he’d have wanted it, but years from now, what I’ll remember is absentmindedly watching a fifteen year old kid murder India’s finest in the Irani Trophy in 1988. Then came the bloodied nose from Imran (!) and the sixes off Qadir the next year. Then, Napier and 88.
Then came Manchester. A seventeen year old kid saving a Test that was done and dusted. Goes to Australia full of hype, so Sydney.
Perth. PERTH. Merv Hughes on a trampoline. Afterwards, John Woodcock says in the press box – “Gentlemen, this (kid) is the greatest batsman I’ve ever seen and unlike the rest of you, I’ve seen Bradman play” All of 18, and he’s held in awe, including by a 17 year old Tasmanian kid who came all the way to Sydney to watch him in the nets, because his coach said to him, “Ricky, you’ve gotta see this kid play, you’ll never get the chance again.” Both of them got the chance(s) again, luckily.
Johannesburg, Chennai, Colombo, Lucknow.
Colombo RPS. The first ODI century, at long last. At that time India’s record holder was Kris Srikkanth, with…4. The word ‘exponential’ comes to mind.
Baroda, Jaipur, Nagpur, Sharjah, Cuttack, Delhi, SINGAPORE!!, Sharjah, Birmingham, Nottingham, Colombo, Mumbai, Cape Town, Benoni, Bangalore, Colombo, Colombo, Mumbai.
Chennai. Still the greatest Test innings of HIS career. 155 in the second innings against the second best bowler of all time?
Sharjah, Desert Storm. Can’t buy the team off unless you buy this kid off, say the bookies. Anyone, ANYONE who says that Sachin is too clinical has obviously never seen him rage violently against the faded light, the bookies, the duststorm and, as an afterthought, against Shane Warne, in this encounter.
Sharjah. 134. Two days after Desert Storm, on his twenty-fifth birthday, the bookies finally give up for good, and so do Michael Kasprowicz and Damien Fleming. In their spare time afterwards, they console Shane Warne when he’s having one of his Tendulkar-related nightmares.
Kolkata, Colombo, Bulawayo, Dhaka, Sharjah, Sharjah, Wellington.
Chennai, once more. 16 runs and a crocked back away from possibly the greatest sporting performance of all time. Anil Kumble’s ten wickets in an innings a week later was a palliative, but this was possibly the worst Test defeat of all.
Bristol. It was Kenya but this was his tribute to his Dad, on his return. In the meantime, though, his teams had already mucked it up.
Colombo, Mohali, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Melbourne, Baroda, Sharjah, Delhi, Nagpur, Jodhpur, Chennai, Indore, Harare.
Johannesburg. 98 of the greatest runs in ODI history. The back is crocked, and a year later, it’d almost destroy his career, seemingly for good, but right now, it just meant that he was forced to invent the “upar cut”. Off Shoaib Akhtar, because life is just too easy otherwise.
Paarl, Bloemfontein, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Port-of-Spain, Chester-le-Street, Bristol, Leeds, Kolkata, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Sydney, Rawalpindi, Multan, Dhaka, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Peshawar, Kuala Lumpur, Baroda, Chittagong, Dhaka, Sydney, Adelaide.
Sydney – Done and dusted, has finally shown his fading reflexes and age in a terrible league campaign, and it’s a miracle he’s still opening, or even batting for India.
Too often, Sachin Tendulkar was accused of scoring easy runs – never mind the fact that he is the leading World Cup run scorer, and, more convincingly, has an average of 57 in ODI finals. Here, his first and only ODI century in Australia just happened to win the tournament. Not that the Aussies needed any proof. I’ll always remember the __Dulkar board from 1991 fondly, though I’m still a bit sad that it ended at 64Dulkar, after a truly magnificent Dean Jones catch.
Chennai. A decade later, a minor triumph amidst unspeakable tragedy. This was for his Mumbaikars. As the ever classy Kevin Pietersen said then “Who can write Sachin Tendulkar’s script any better” Well, Kevin, you’ve got a pretty good scriptwriter yourself, never fear.
Kolkata, Gwalior, Colombo, Bangalore, Centurion.
Cape Town – The best I’ve ever seen him play. Dale Steyn v Sachin Tendulkar, both at the peak of their unattainable powers. I’ve never seen such cricket in my life, only Ricky vs England at Old Trafford in 2005 comes close to the same level. Scarcely believable defensive brilliance against the greatest fast bowler of the age, one who belongs with Marshall and Ambrose. 146 of the finest runs ever scored.
Gwalior. Two Hundred.
Colombo, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chittagong, Dhaka, Nagpur. Bangalore, Nagpur.
Wankhede. 18 paltry runs but the albatross is finally gone.
Mirpur. I feel dirty even typing that. One of the absolute worst innings I’ve seen him play, and one that directly led to India being eliminated. Dire rubbish.
And then, of course, come the struggles and denial of the last few months.
But, Sachin, this too shall pass. You’ll always be that kid who became a nation’s saviour, and defined a generation of Indians. Thank you from the bottom of our shallow ungrateful hearts.