16 Nov, 2013, 8:00 AM
Finally, the day has come. I know that the wearing track of Wankhede, along with the feeble Caribbean batting line-up will make sure that this will be his last day on a cricket ground after a marathon service of 24 years to the game. I still remember, way back in early 90’s, when I was a kid, a ‘Boost’ TV commercial introduced me to a curly-haired young cricketer, who would later become the ‘God of Cricket.’ Eager eyes, child-like agility, elegant strokeplay, aggression ahead of its time, profound humility and immense love for the game; be it 1996 world cup semi-final, where he was the lone-warrior against a dominating Sri Lankan bowling, or his 1998 heroics against the mighty Australians that made Shane Warne reveal that Sachin haunts him in his dreams, he carried the burden of the expectations of the nation, with sheer pride and true grit. Who can forget his precious 136 runs at Chennai against Pakistan in 1999, despite being injured, like a wounded soldier, resolute Sachin kept his struggle on and took the team very close to the victory, though the team collapsed with his departure. Against the same opposition in World Cup 2003, he tore their bowling attack apart and exhibited supremacy over the lethal Pakistani bowling attack with his swashbuckling innings of 98 of just 75 balls.
Injuries are part and parcel of every cricketer’s life. Sachin too, had to struggle with tennis elbow problem and there was a time when it appeared that he would never be able to play his natural game again. It reminds me of the famous article (February 2006) titled ‘Endulkar’ writing him off and proclaiming that his retirement was near. But again it was his unconquerable will with which he fought back. Resurgent Sachin silenced all the critics with his fabulous performances in 2007. In 2010, at the age of 37, he was awarded ICC cricketer of the year award. On 2nd April, 2011, India won the world cup and he was the highest run getter for India with 482 runs in 9 matches.
With more than 34000 international runs, a century of centuries and most of the batting records in his name, Sachin is set to bid adieu to the game. We are on the verge of the culmination of an era that witnessed the indomitable spirit of the ‘little master’, who earned a godlike stature in India with his unfading grace and truest form of dedication. It is 9:30 AM now, and I am entering my class in spite of knowing that the match will surely be over in next two hours, and very soon, he will be hanging up his boots ending one of the greatest cricket careers ever seen, and I will be sitting in a corner of the classroom, 1200 km away from Wankhede, along with 1 billion other teary eyed devout, giving him an emotional send off .God is great!
This article is written by Siddhartha Tiwari, PGP 2013-15. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .