The God of Cricket


“Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don’t know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their television sets and switch off their lives– BBC Sports, on Sachin Tendulkar.”

This tribute is to the man I admire most, the man from whom I picked up cricket as a sport-playing, watching and even imitating to some extent. The Super Man from India, the Little Master-Sachin Tendulkar.
As a kid, used to imitate him taking guard while practicing batting,sometimes people around me used to wonder what am I doing as I used to do it so often. Then went on to emulate the same in the form of HIS Boost ad role-play in a local fancy dress competition dressing up like him. Reminiscing now, realising how funny it was 🙂 Back then, Doordarshan (DD1) was the only source of cricket viewing. Vividly remember many adventures tweaking the direction of the antenna as the TV screen used to go blur when it rained or any other disturance.
I was over the moon when was able to watch HIM for whole 10 minutes standing in front of HIS car when he was in my native for a function.

Back story: We (with 2 of my cousins in a bike doing triple riding) followed HIS car after greeting him in middle of the road when no person in the locality had any clue about his arrival. We had to give up the chase in between as HIS car was speeding up. As luck would have it, HIS car stopped at petrol pump on our way to our home. Didn’t get a chance to get his autograph but was ecstatic to see him from very close quarters. A wave of HIS hand before leaving is something which I cannot forget. Since that day, we call that petrol pump as Tendulkar petrol pump. 🙂 That was the time when he was making a comeback after career threatening tennis elbow injury. Was elated to see him score century in next couple of matches and stamp his authority over bowlers.

There was something about HIS batting which gives nothing but sheer pleasure. Whether it’s dancing down the track and hitting say a Shane Warne (who can forget Sand Storm in Sharjah 98?) for a six and in turn giving the bowler a nightmare even in his sleep or premeditating a bouncer from a fast bowler like McGrath or for that matter a Andy Caddick (Remember 2003 WC Ind/Eng league match?) and hitting a hook shot. In Centurion 2003, Tendulkar’s upper cut to Shoaib Akhtar to hit a magnificent six and then guiding India to win is part of a folklore now. HE had all the time in the world to guide a high pitched ball from a bowler like Brett Lee over wicket keeper’s head by a perfectly executed shot fetching nothing less than six. Not to forget the exquisite timing involved in a text book stuff cover drive or a square cut for that matter. Rarely missed a leg glance when the ball was pitched middle and leg or a paddle sweep for a spinning ball towards HIS legs. Playing according to the field was HIS forte and don’t find any batsman play a straight drive as he does. HIS straight drive with full face of the bat, also HIS straight sixes of Shane Warne and others are as straight as it gets and out of fashion as he has retired now.

Then came the moment to score first 200 in ODI history and it was only fitting for HIM to do it. I was serving for Infy as a trainee in Mysore then. As he was inching towards this unbelievable milestone, got myself a forced break from training session. Since there was no TV access at the lecture hall, got into a call for around 30 minutes hearing the updates and getting expert commentary from my cousin bashing Dhoni for not giving enough strike to the Master. In a span of his career he has given sheer pleasure and tremendous joy by his batting in spite of carrying burden of billion people expectations right through his career. For 90’s kids, it was sense of assurance that the game is in our grasp when Tendulkar was batting and many would switch off their TV when he got out. Just for a moment think you are Tendulkar and you’re coming into bat amidst cheering fans hoping you score in that critical juncture of the match. More often than not you would get bogged down and succumb to the pressure and fail to show your application but not Tendulkar. If HIS batting was nightmare to the opposition he looked ominous with the ball too. He could do off spin, leg spin and medium pace depending on the batsman and match situation. Most of the time, he would get vicious spin and batsman failed to pick him often when it was pitched in line with the stump. He has won us many game with his bowling too.Remember his last over against South Africa in 93 Hero Cup? Apart from this, a great fielder and was good slip catcher. In short, he was a cricketer’s guide to be a champion batsman, effective bowler and a better fielder.

Off the field he was a gentleman and had a great influence over his team mates by his mere presence. He has achieved so many things which no can ever think off but still he looks like same young man who is hunger for success and better himself.Before him we had Sunil Gavaskar who was too good and when the last generation thought there will be no Indian cricketer like him we got Sachin Tendulkar who captured the imagination of my generation. In that terms, we are very lucky to witness his brilliance in his whole career. As he has retired now it pains to write in retrospect rather than introspection. Now that he has retired, we have found someone special who can fit the bill in the near future if he performs well and maintains his class-Virat Kohli. If Virat Kohli is special, Sunil Gavaskar was brilliant during those days of West Indies domination batting without a helmet, Sachin Tendulkar was something else. A place and stature which no one can match.

A Love Story…


“Baar baar aati hai mujhko madhur yaad bachpan teri…gaya le gaya tu jeevan ki sabse mast khushi meri”

Those were the days. Those were the days of 90s when we were of school going age. School was fun and very eventful. Cream shirt, maroon shorts/skirt, maroon striped tie, a colorful school bag, a tiffin box with our favorite dish and a funky water bottle was the way we carried ourselves. Except Wednesdays when it was color dress, meaning, u can wear any dress of your choice and on Saturdays it was all white attire with white canvas shoes. If at all you missed wearing tie, belt, shoes you were liable for hafta to be given to special students called as cabinet leaders. A good day earning would fetch them many ice candies and chocolates. 😛 These cabinet leaders reported to the School Prime Leader(SPL).On Saturdays, there would be couple of exercises along with a march- past with the school band, as I write this, I can listen to the band 🙂 The SPL along with cabinet leaders would stand upfront and show us the moves as the band came into action. Every school day started with morning prayers in an assembly on the ground and ended with a national anthem in class over intercom. During assembly, every person stood as per his/her height class wise. After morning prayer, to be adept with current affairs, each person as per roll number was supposed to read out the news from a newspaper to the whole gathering. There was certain protocol(read rule) to start the news-“The news. Deccan Herald”, Nothing more, nothing less than this 😛 Sundays was meant for TV and Cricket. Those were the days when world saw the brilliance of Sachin Tendulkar on a cricket field emulating or even getting past the original little master Sunil Gavaskar. DD1 was the only TV channel available which later led to the emergence of cable channels Zee and Sony. Friday night was the time when a relatively new Hindi film was aired on TV. Those were the days when Sunday evening 4 pm was the only time a regional cinema (read Kannada) would be telecast. I used to look forward in bated breath with my grandmother to check which film would be screened that day readying ourselves for tea. If it turned out to be a RajKumar or Anant Nag starrer (our favorite stars), we would be delighted. That was the time when likes of Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam ruled the music charts. Along with film music, pop albums coexisted and were quite popular.

Those were the days when Shakti-Shakti-Shaktimaan was the only superhero we knew. Every villain in real life was Tamraj Kilvish and every sorry to our parents/friends sounded as “Sorry ShaktiMaan”!! We enjoyed our movies whether it’s Johnny Lever’s comedy, Madhuri Dixit’s smile/dance, Sanjay Dutt’s KhalNayak act, Govinda’s comedy/dance,Sharukh Khan’s romance/negative characters, Kader Khan’s comic timing, Nana Patekar’s Krantiveer act, Salman Khan’s Hum Aapke hai Kaun, Akshay Kumar’s action sequences, Sunny Deol’s high pitch dialogues(Jab yeh dhai kilo ka haath kisi pe padta hai na … toh aadmi uthta nahi … utth jata hai 😛 ), Sooraj Bharjatiya’s family drama, Rahul Roy’s Aashiqui, Kajol’s versatility, A R Rahman’s music,various convincing characters played by Amrish Puri, Paresh Rawal, Anupam Kher, Shakti Kapoor and last but not the least Sunil Shetty’s HaiHuku HaiHuku Hai Hai 😛

Unlike today we played various games on the ground by getting our hands dirty (literally) especially cricket irrespective of scorching heat, pouring rain or chilling weather. Those were the days where we were glued to TV video games like Mario, Contra, Road Rash and handheld brick games when we were indoors. Also those card games, remember? Those Big Fun chewing gum were bought like crazy so that we could get those free trump cards on WWF and Cricket. We enjoyed even the ads that came up on TV- Rahul Dravid’s Jam Jam Jammy, a Japanese saying in his accent Suzuki Samurai, No Problem, A devil as a brand ambassador for Onida TV, Preity Zinta dancing to Laa..Laa la laaaa in Liril ad, tat cute kid’s mouthwatering expression on the mention of Jalebiiiiiiii from Dhara cooking oil, Humara Bajaj and off course Sabki pasand Nirma, Washing Powder Nirma. Those were the days when exceptional TV programs like Surabhi staring Renuka Shahane , Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, longest running film based TV program-Chitrahaar, a detective series called as TehkiKaat with Sam D’Silva as protagonist, MahaBharath (bought India standstill every Sunday at 11am), Rajit Kapur’s Byomkesh Bakshi, Ashok Saraf’s Hum Paanch, Annu Kapoor’s Antakshari, Alif Laila, Chandrakantha,Vikram Bethal, Shankar Nag’s Malgudi Days on the works of R.K.Narayan, Philips Top 10, Sonu Nigam’s Sa Re Ga Ma, Pankaj Kapur’s Office Office, Ramsay Brother’s Zee Horror Show entertained us. Not to forget CID which is still running I guess. Daya yeh darwaza thodo!! Hehe. Those were the days, those were the days of 90s. 

I was in 5th grade then. An average student, mischievous at times with flair in mathematics. Apart from playing cricket, movies was my favorite pastime. I loved mostly the romantic ones especially the first half where it was a done deal that hero and heroine would unite. During those times there came a film called Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (in short DDLJ) which broke all the stereotypes. It was appreciated for its freshness and amazing chemistry between lead actors Shahrukh Khan and Kajol. I loved that film, so did everyone else. I never missed watching it again whenever it was aired on TV. Since then I idolized SRK and even called myself ‘Raj’ every time anyone asked my name. There was a certain Simran in my class. No there was no gal called Simran but I called one of gal so, because I was Raj. Whenever I would see her, more often than not, a tune would ring in my head- Tujhe Dekha toh yeh Jaana Sanam, Pyaar Hota Hai Deewana Sanam. She was cute and sweet and I think she also found me charming. I guess she fell in love with me in the pit created by my dimples. SRK had one, so did I. We used to show our love to each other by exchanging letters. Yeah u read it right, letters- LOVE letters. We were so immature and sweet then. We were not spoilt by cell phones and its offerings like Facebook or WhatsApp.

When we were afraid to speak one to one, we used to pour out our feelings on a paper even though it’s a simple thank you or a sorry. Now that we were in same class we used to sit together on same bench. Traditionally I was a back bencher but I didn’t mind sitting beside her on first bench. Whenever anyone tried to sit beside her I used to fight with them to retain ‘that’ place. Now sitting on the same bench we used to talk continuously, giggle and occasionally gossip. Also we used to share our tiffin during lunch break. During tiffin, we used to play a game where no one reveals what dish is there in his/her box and the other person has to guess. If he/she succeeds, well and good and if anyone fails, he/she has to do a task which the other person wishes. Once I was told to rap like Baba Sehgal or dance like Prabhu Deva. That was fun, real fun. We were happy in our own world. Her house was nearby school. I used to walk along with her and carry her heavy bag after school to drop her. Now that we were in our respective homes we used to miss each other. Luckily we knew their family- they were family friends. Her dad’s office was near our home. So to meet me in the name of ‘homework’, she used to go to her dad’s office and come to my place. When teacher used to give loads of homework, we used to be happier unlike others. 😛

Once she told me she wanted to learn to ride bicycle. My dad had bought me a new one recently and I decided to teach her on a ground nearby. After lot of practice, falling sometimes on the ground, she finally learnt to ride a bicycle. She was indebted to me and treated me a cola drink. She decided to buy 2 colas, but I blurted out a filmi dialogue saying “Dost ek hi bottle se cola peeyenge isse dosti badthi hai” and ended up drinking a single cola with 2 straws. 😛

Once there was a singing competition in our school and both of us had participated. She was a better singer though with a beautiful voice like that of Shreya Ghoshal at 10. It was auditions and we had a bunch of participants from different divisions coming to our class for singing. Competition was tough as we were competing with 7th grade students too. It was my turn and I had carefully thought of the song that I will sing. I began singing- Mein Toh Raste Se Jaa Raha tha( te te te taun), Mein Toh Bhel Puri Kha Raha tha (te te te taun), Mein Toh ladki ghuma raha tha ( looking at her ) 😉 Raste Se Jaa Raha tha, Bhelpuri Kha Raha tha, Ladki Ghuma Raha tha. Tujko Mirchi Lagi toh mein kya karun.(Looking at the audience with a bit of dance 🙂 ) Tujko Mirchi Lagi toh mein kya karun and she was the first one to clap and cheer me up as others joined for applause. Then it was her turn. And she put every one of us in trance by singing my favorite song from Saajan looking fixedly at me- Bahut Pyaar Karte Hai Tumko Sanam. Kasam Chahiye Lelo Khudha Ki Kasam. I just realized she finished it when audience clapped continuously to a thundering applause. Without any hesitation, the judges declared her as the winner. She got a huge Dairy Milk as a prize which we both shared after classes. She kept the wrapper too in her notebook intact for memories. 

One fine day she became our class monitor. There was a rule in our class-If anyone found talking and his/her name written by the monitor on the blackboard he/she would get a punishment. Punishment was he/she would get a tight slap from the monitor in the presence of teacher and the whole class. That day I purposefully talked and giggled with my other neighbor. She wrote my name on blackboard even though I was special to her as she was honest and I being honest with myself, accepted a slap from her gracefully. She hit me but ‘pyaar se’ unlike others who got a real slap. I was happy but she was hurt. She did not get the courage to say sorry so she wrote a sorry poem on a piece of paper and passed it to me. The poem read-

You were talking so much like you’re a bible reader.

I not like punishing but I was the leader

So had to slap you but I was very worry

Please don’t stop talking, I am sorry

Now I am a software engineer working in a MNC. Its weekend and I find myself lazy on my couch. I switch on the TV and find DDLJ is on air. All memories come rushing in. You ask me where is my Simran? She is happily married to Kuljeet with 2 kids.

P.S: The first thing that would pop up in your mind- Is this my story? Answer is a big NO. This is purely a fictional story, an inspiration from varied experiences.

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