Even as a child Sachin loved bashing up people. Then he used fists, now he uses his bat
WHEN Atul Ranade was sent to Junior KG for no fault of his, he chose to sit behind someone whose flowing long locks caught his eye. In a bout of elementary heterosexuality, he thought it was a girl. "But it turned out to be a boy and that too a very strong boy," he recalls. The muster called him Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Those were the days when he was shorter than the stumps, when he had his own method of communicating with weaker peers and that was, "bashing them up for no reason". One day, when he was in the second standard, as a part of his daily drill, he hit an erring schoolmate. And that boy, it turned out, was two years his senior. The humiliation did not go down well in the stunned fourth grade. And by evening a syndicate of eight-year-olds with an attitude that the principal would not have thought highly of, waited by the gate for retribution.
"They were waiting but somehow he escaped. I don't know how," says Ranade, the mystery still lingering somewhere in the eye.
He was very shrewd." He was gifted with talents that seemed to be obsolete, as the human society had moved away from its tribal roots. Ranade remembers a game in which a boy carried another on his back. Now this boy had to nudge other similar units of two and throw them off balance. "Sachin had this knack of shoving people with his shoulders. Anyone who paired with him would win." Back in Sahitya Sahawas, where Sachin lived with endearingly cultured parents and siblings, a pleasant life was taking form. But in any such pleasant domestic setting there is a mandatory gutter and in such gutters there are bound to be fish. Sachin's penance for mugging weak individuals seemed to be picking up fish from this gutter and giving them a new life in a bottle of municipality water. "He had this black fish, I remember, which he had taken from the gutter," says photographer Avinash Govarikar who has been a neighbour for life. "He was a very tender person. But he was always fascinated with power, speed and things like that." When a new recruit joined the gang, among the primary information that Sachin wanted to gather was whether 'this boy' could hit 'that boy'. But, though little boys were not included, other organic compounds like pups and cats got Sachin's sympathy and care.
Govarikar remembers a day, when the boys surveyed Sachin longer than necessary. Someone had cut his hair short. The flowing locks were gone. "He looked so different all of a sudden," Govarikar says. It's still not clear whether the decision to trim the hair was taken democratically or some elder in the house decided to put hygiene before fashion, but in a final analysis, Sachin now thought he looked like McEnroe. The boys' circle agreed.
Among these boys, at Sahitya Sahawas, there used to be a fable about a mad man who lurked around in Bandra East, who went around killing people after dark. 'Sachu' was among
We have been in awe of Sachin Tendulkar's sills, ready first of all to be enchanted by his youth, then to be respectful of his mighty figures, and now to be assured that, whatever Bradman achieved, whatever Gavaskar did, he stands on his own, writes TED CORBETT
IS there anyone, no matter how experienced, how qualified, how seasoned, who dare to measure the greatness that lies within Sachin Tendulkar? I doubt it. In an era of sublime batsmen - Lara, Kallis, Dravid and Ganguly, the Australian top five, none of whom need to have their names spelt out -Sachin has no equal.For 13 years Test and one-day batsmanship has been defined by his deeds. We have been in awe of his skills, ready first of all to be enchanted by his youth, then to be respectful of his mighty figures, and now to be assured that, whatever Bradman achieved, whatever Gavaskar did, Tendulkar stands on his own.He is not just the richest of cricketers but the most richly rewarding to watch.
In the early 21st century we can easily recall the achievements of another generation only recently past: Lloyd and Richards, the Chappell brothers, Martin Crowe, Javed Miandad, Gower and Botham, Azharuddin and Zaheer Abbas; all touched with angelic grace and producing figures to astound us. None measure up to the prowess of Tendulkar, the supreme batsman. We knew it when the World Cup began and now we have had all our adjectives confirmed, all our dreams realised, seen his muscular batsmanship reach heights we only guessed at, seen, best of all, his courage, his imaginative use of the unorthodox, and wondered once again at his pocket battleship strength. Here is no Viv Richards using his boxer's power to whip the ball to whatever part of the field took his fancy; here is no David Gower, harnessing his lithesome elegance and timing to ease the ball hither and thither.
For, let us make no bones about it, Tendulkar is small yet, like those Amazons of the tennis circuit Venus and Serena Williams, he can stand away from the ball and yet hit it powerfully. Into the crowd as he did against Pakistan in that never-to-be-forgotten win or around the boundary ropes as he did in the England game. There has never been another batsman like him. One of a kind; and what a one! The poet Chesterton's phrase "The legend of an epic hour'' from The Napoleon of Notting Hill fits him precisely. Tendulkar is more properly The Napoleon of Centurion, a ground that ought to have a memorial to his deeds but before he raced to that magic score against Pakistan he had already made this tournament his own. He seems to have realised quicker than most that the old tactic of a 15-over bash at the top of the innings would not apply against the white ball on these sluggish South African pitches.
Sixty runs has been the mean average for the overs of field restriction in this event and that is how Sachin went about scoring his runs. How right he was too.By the time the preliminary matches had been completed, after 24 days of controversy and confusion, Tendulkar stood head and shoulders above the rest. Remember Shane Warne's departure under the shadow of a drugs charge, Rashid Latif's threat to sue, New Zealand's decision to drop out of the match in Nairobi, England's long battle to have their Zimbabwe match moved to South Africa, arguments about the failure to post four fielders in the ring, the ban on Waqar Younis for bowling beamers, Pakistan's fight during a football game, South Africa's inability to interpret the Duckworth-Lewis rules. The stories are endless. Happily, they are all forced into the shadow by Tendulkar's dynamic batting. As the preliminary matches ended his statistics took the breath away.
He began on the fourth day of the World Cup with 52 from 72 balls off Holland; a pipe-opener that went almost unnoticed as the host South Africa led by Shann Pollock slaughtered Kenya. (If only we had known then that Kenya were not the mugs of the competition but the first round heroes; would we not at this moment be sitting on our own Caribbean island, soaking up the sun and wondering how we might spend our ill-gotten gains.)
From that moment he made a steady progress of sizeable scores: 36 off 59 against Australia, 81 off 91 against Zimbabwe, 152 off 151 versus Namibia, 50 from 52 against England and finally, gloriously, 98 from 78 balls delivered by Pakistani bowlers brought victory and a certain place in the Super Sixes. In total six innings, 469 runs, at 78.19 with a century and four fifties ? not to mention a strike rate of 93.80 ? meant that as the teams regrouped for the next stage it was being called Tendulkar's Tournament. When we set his last few weeks in context we are not disappointed. Overall in World Cups Tendulkar has played 27 innings in 28 matches, been not out three times and scored 1,528 runs with that 152 not out against hapless Namibia his highest score. He averages a colossal 63.67, he scores at 88.63 for each 100 balls he faces and he has four hundreds and 10 fifties.
Surely there is another World Cup in his life which means that one day he will retire - yes, even gods have to put their feet up at some stage in their lives ? with figures beyond the dreams of youngsters starting on their one-day careers. Just as a reminder, Tendulkar has played 309 one-day games, batted 300 times, scored 12,015 runs with his highest score an undefeated 186, an average of 44.50, 34 centuries and 60 fifties. He collects those runs at 86.43 runs each 100 deliveries. I will throw in his Test statistics just to show what a big man lies inside that chunky body. In 105 Tests he has batted 169 times, scored 8,811 runs, including 31 centuries and 35 fifties at an average of 57.59.
So as the preliminary matches in the 2003 World Cup ended, Tendulkar had scored 20826 international runs and 65 international centuries and, not just in the opinion of the sub-continent, was sitting so high on Mount Everest that his rivals appeared to be making their way through the foothills. And, even in this World Cup, there is so much more to come. Perhaps even success for India if the rest of the side can back up that great man's towering success. The figures are not as impressive but he bowls and fields as enthusiastically as he must have done in his teen years when he set out on this great career in the rough grounds of Mumbai. He has captained India too and one day he may do so again.
So thank heavens for Tendulkar. He may be a millionaire many times over and he might, if he chose, retire and live in luxury for the rest of his days.But the best of this extraordinary cricketer is that, having played all the matches on the calendar, he rises every morning keen to play, looking forward to carrying that hefty bat to the middle and certain, as he has every right to be, that he can make even more runs.
Long may he reign!
Source : Sportstar
Dominance is not the right word. Yes, Sachin Tendulkar dominates. But there is no subtlety in dominating? no sense of the art in the craft. Because, Sachin, like no other batsman today, brings art into his craft, and craft into his art. So when he dom- inates? even when he swears revenge on a bowler who has got him out cheaply? Sachin?s madness always has a method. Viv Richards was more of the madness, Sunil Gavaskar more of the method. Sachin? well, Sachin is the best of both.
Just over 10 years ago, I sat in the office of Sportsweek magazine with that same Sunil Gavaskar. Ayaz Memon and I were listening to Gavaskar in one of his rare, priceless moods. The ?Little Master? was delving deep into his own experience, his own genius, and bringing forth pearls of wisdom as sudden, and as effective, as his straight- drives back past the bowler. Then Gavaskar came up with the following statement (remember, this was in 1988, when Dilip Vengsarkar was about to become captain of India): "The two best batsmen in Bombay today are Vengsarkar and Sachin Tendulkar." Full stop. End of statement. The ball crosses the boundary-line underneath the sight- screen.
Sachin was 15 at the time. His immense partnership with Vinod Kambli was already part of cricketing lore, and his name was there to be read in the fine- print almost every day. But he had only played for his school. Yet Gavaskar was certain.And a few months later, when we were planning a sports- video for Sportsweek , Gavaskar?s words still filled my mind. I wanted to interview Vengsarkar and Tendulkar, the two best batsmen in Bombay.I had always been a fan of Vengsarkar?s, and I knew that he has suffered from being a Shashi Kapoor to Gavaskar?s Amitabh Bachchan. But Gavaskar had retired, so Vengsarkar was free to be his own man.Vengsarkar was ready and willing for the interview, and we decided to shoot it on the Marine Drive side of Hindu Gymkhana. When we enquired from Vengsarkar about Sachin, he told us that Sachin had net- practice with the Bombay team at Wankhede Stadium that morning. (Sachin had, by the time of interview, played for Bombay, and scored a century in his first Ranji Trophy match.)
Vengsarkar joined us at the nets, and the first sight I had of Sachin was him playing an off- drive on the ?up?. And as I watched the stroke, Vengsarkar said: "Sachin Tendulkar?s weakness is going for his shots on the off side, and loft- ing them." It was ten years ago that Vengsarkar said that. Today, just watch the off- side fields set for Sachin when he first comes in to bat. The opponents are planning? almost desperately? for that same alleged weakness of Sachin?s to appear.Very seldom do they succeed. For Sachin Tendulkar has taken the art of driving on the ?up?, and crafted it into one of the most breathtaking shots of modern cricket. Art and craft. The secret of Sachin.
Eventually, 10 years ago, Sachin had batted enough, and we took him to the Hindu Gymkhana. I interviewed him with a match going on in the background. Sachin was shy, but confident. He spoke only enough to get his point across. He was not at all nervous about the interview, and treated it as a necessary experience. At the age of 15.Ten years later, he speaks easier, and more often. But the confidence is the same. Not bravado, not ego. Just a deep confidence in his art, his craft. The essential Sachin has not changed.
In our interview, four points stood out. Firstly, Sachin stated that Gavaskar and Richards were his heroes. Secondly, Sachin, without hesitation, said that he could read Hirwani?s googly, and was ready to face the West Indian fast- bowlers. (In fact, he said he prefers fast bowling.)Thirdly, when asked whether he grew tired of batting while with Kambli in that mammoth partnership, Sachin?s reply was almost an unbelieving shake of the head. And fourthly, Sachin made it very clear that being compared with Gavaskar was a bit embarrassing for him, and that he simply wanted to play his own, "natural" game.
The inspiration of Gavaskar and Richards, the confidence to face any type of bowling, the love for fast bowling, the desire to play and play, and, finally, the knowledge that your skill is unique? these ingredients made Sachin a very special 15- year old, and they still make him a very, very special 25- year- old.
After the interview, we had Sachin walk across to where he had left his bat and kit- bag, pick up his bat thoughtfully, look into the distance, and then pick up his kit- bag too, and walk out towards Marine Drive and into the future. It was a shot which any veteran actor would have rehearsed several times, and probably muffed just as often. Sachin did it? first take ?OK?. It was as natural as his batting. Ten years later, he faces the cameras for umpteen ad- films with the same uncluttered ease.
Will Sachin still be as uncluttered, as natural, 10 years from now?
I write this soon after Sachin?s century in the second innings of the first match of the New Zealand tour. It was a match of no apparent importance, beyond getting to know the conditions.
And yet, Sachin played a knock of amazing skill and determination.
Because he, and India, had failed in the first innings. And Sachin Tendulkar knew how important it was for him to not only succeed in the second innings, but dominate with his art and craft. Which he proceeded to do. Remember the knock against Shane Warne for Mumbai in the first match of Australia?s tour of India this year? Another apparently insignificant match. But Sachin used it to set the tone for an entire series. A series which will be written about for decades. A series which made Sachin a mythical legend.
Ten years from now, Sachin Tendulkar will still be doing just that? playing the game he loves to play to the best of his immense ability. It is as simple as that.
And just think? 10 years from now, Sachin will be only 35. He could still play for another 10 years after that.
And they will still be setting those off-side fields for him, trying to get him to drive on the ?up?. Once again, it?s as simple as that.
And I will be showing my grandchildren the tape of Sachin?s interview.
In the year 2018.
During the December 1997 Sharjah series I remember telling my good friend Sunil Gavaskar that I was thinking of writing that Sachin Tendulkar should stand down as captain. I strongly felt that that extra responsibility was holding him back as a batsman. He is a nice lad, polite, well-mannered?yet I felt the Indian team needed a good ?kick up the backside?. I didn?t think it was right for him and India to spend so much of his mental and emotional energy on others. Sunil said, ?Don?t write it Geoffrey?there will be hell to pay!? Well, the selectors had the same view and it proved to be the right one. Freeing Tendulkar of the captaincy was a godsend.
Once relieved of the extra stress, he had a magical year. The Indian team has blossomed and he has solved the question on everyone?s lips as to who is the best?Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar? I have been privileged to see quite a lot of both fine players. But while Sachin has moved forward with dominating and majestic innings, Lara has gone backwards. Technically, you can?t fault Sachin. Seam or spin, fast or slow?nothing is a problem. Of course he will get out cheaply from time to time. Who doesn?t? All that will prove is that he is human.
When he came to Yorkshire as our first overseas player in 130 years he was a promising talent, a young man on the verge of his career. Much was expected of him in India but nobody was quite sure how good he would become. Who could know for sure? Most of us don?t have a crystal ball. With hindsight some will say ?I told you so? but it is easy to be right with hind-sight! There are people in England who still say he didn?t do that well for my county. I say they are wrong and all of our Yorkshire supporters loved him. We?d have him back tomorrow if we could!
It was vital that we had as our first overseas player someone who was no trouble. How awful it would?ve been if he had been seen out disco dancing on match days or drinking late at night in pubs or off?hard to members, sponsors and media. Sachin was a dream. A boyish smile, warm, friendly?nothing was too much trouble for him. Our members and the office staff loved him.
Yorkshire prided itself on having only Yorkshire-born players and by pure mis - chance we had never had a coloured cricketer. Therefore, we were open to the criticism of being prejudiced. Sachin?s arrival did away with that and every youngster knew from then on that what had been said was true.
I am delighted to have been the prime mover and proposer that changed Yorkshire?s club rules, and proud that the first one was a little embryo genius! Sachin played well for a medium team but at the age of 19 he was not the finished article. We didn?t expect him to be but he created an enormous amount of interest and left behind tremendous goodwill. I wouldn?t have swapped him for any other player.
From now on as his greatness unfolds there will be the inevitable comparisons with the ?little master??Sunil Gavaskar. It is always unfair to judge people who play in different eras but it won?t stop some individuals. The rules today are different for Sachin. Sunil played in an era where unlimited short stuff was allowed at the umpires? discretion. Today there are only a handful of genuine fast men but Sunil had to take on?and won?against the all-conquering West Indians who had four of the very best operating all day long?every day.
So while we are all heaping praise on Sachin, don?t put down Sunny?s contribution. What we should do is enjoy Sachin?s batting while we can. His wicket will be the biggest prize sought after by every bowler around the world. That has always been the case for batsmen who hold the mantle of ?best in the world?. From Grace to Hobbs to Bradman to Sobers and Richards. That won?t change?but I am confident Sachin can handle that.
When I watch Sachin Tendulkar bat I find myself wondering how Don Bradman would have coped with the modern game.
The Indian genius was at his imperious best when he delivered a match-winning innings for India in the humiliation of Sri Lanka at the Wanderers Stadium.Would Bradman's insatiable appetite for scoring runs have been diminished by so much cricket, especially the endless stream of one-day matches? How would he have handled the modern method of individual game plans and field placing?Suppose he experienced some of that with bodyline bowling and field placing and it curtailed his rampant run making. Would Bradman have automatically batted in a helmet and would he have graduated to heavier bats?
These are all imponderables, but it is natural to fantasise about such things when watching another blitzkrieg from the modern genius. Make no mistake Tendulkar is a genius!
Tendulkar's combination of deft touches and raw power is virtually unmatched in the game today.
Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Brian Lara probably go closest to him. They can certainly match his power though they don't quite match his exquisite skill and versatility.The versatility is an innate, instinctive skill. It must have been learned somewhere because I doubt that it was taught. Something in Sachin's environment early in his cricket development allowed for the acquisition of this skill.Bradman developed his similarly exquisite skill on his own, with the help of a golf ball thrown against a tank stand, and played with a stump.
Had Bradman learned to bat with the heavy bats in vogue today he may have played very differently?
While there is only a difference of 6 or 7 pounds between the bats used by Bradman and Tendulkar, the extra weight can make a difference in balance and style.Bradman controlled the bat with his top hand. This would have been more difficult with the heavier bat.In place of the glides, glances, pulls and cuts that he favoured, all along the ground of course, we may have seen more of the modern bludgeoning.Bradman used the laws of physics better than anyone else, then or now. He used the energy created by the bowler and redirected the ball with brilliant footwork and incredible wrist work.
Tendulkar goes closest to emulating him, but has the added advantage -- delivered by the heavier modern bat -- of being able to block the ball back past the faster bowlers more quickly than it was delivered.Tendulkar's innings of 97 was as intimidating to most of the Sri Lankan bowlers, as it was for the Pakistanis at Centurion Park.Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan were the only Sri Lankan bowlers who seemed capable of withstanding the Tendulkar-led tornado that comprehensively blew them away.The Indian bowlers, led by Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra then delivered the knockout blow which may have destroyed Sri Lanka's World Cup hopes. Just maybe!
I am not sure some of the bowlers will ever recover from the brutality of the assault.
India has made a remarkable recovery from the tour of New Zealand and the mauling by Australia on February 15. Confidence is a remarkable thing and it is difficult to play well without it. The difference in the team now is noticeable in all aspects of their cricket, not least of all in the field.
The intensity of commitment and quality of fielding has risen commensurate with the improved results. In this form India can seriously challenge for the title.
It will need the same level of commitment shown since the loss to Australia and it will need a team effort.
Tendulkar has shown them the way out of the gloom that had descended on the team, and their supporters, over the poor form leading into the World Cup.
He is one of the best four batsmen I have seen and he is the best player of his generation. What is it that makes Sachin Tendulkar so good?
He has an exceptional physical talent. He has outstanding balance. He is very competitive. He is very strong. He has exceptional speed. He has great presence and an excellent temperament. He has a huge desire to be the best and he has an extraordinary mental ability.Batting at the highest levels of the game is as much about mental skills as it is about physical talents. The better players may have a greater range of strokes than the rest but you can bet they also have a greater mental capacity.
Sir Donald Bradman was the best batsman of all time because he was the most determined and mentally strong batsman there has ever been. I am sure I have seen batsmen who have had as much physical talent as Bradman but they have not had the same ruthless drive to make big scores.Bradman had the ability to treat batting in matches the same way as he batted in the middle. He seldom felt the same pressures of batting that mere mortals feel. This allowed him to concentrate for long periods.
What exactly is concentration?Concentration is the ability to focus on the important things at the right moment while blocking out the rest. Some things are more relevant than others at different times.At the point of delivery the only thing that a batsman should see in his field of vision is the ball leaving the bowler's hand. Just prior to the point of delivery the batsman should see the full view of the bowler as he folds up into the delivery position. The ability to be able to track between the two at the appropriate times separates the men from the boys.
Testing that was done with Bradman concluded that his eyesight and reflexes were within the 'normal' range.
What he did better than the rest was to pick up the cues from the bowlers' action just prior to, and at the point of, delivery better than all the rest.I have no doubt Bradman, a well organised man, had a process of concentration for each and every delivery. His instincts were well trained from hours and hours of hitting golf balls with a cricket stump as a young man.His brain will have had a greater capacity for storing information than the most complex computers that man can build.The most important part of a batsman's development happens in the early stages of learning the game. The instinctive skills that are learnt at this stage are relied upon when under pressure in a match situation.These instinctive skills are learnt rather than taught.
A good coach will create the environment in which the young player will train these instincts.
The early environment in which Sachin learnt his skills must have been excellent. His instincts are outstanding.
I have been lucky enough to see all of the best batsmen of the past 50 years.
Some of those whom I rate in the very top bracket of the elite group of players in that time would be Peter May, Ken Barrington, Neil Harvey, Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Graeme Pollock, Sunil Gavaskar, Clive Lloyd, Barry Richards, Doug Walters, Viv Richards, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge Ian Chappell, Allan Border, the Waughs, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Brian Lara and Tendulkar.
Each one of these players had slightly different methods and styles but each had great instincts.If I had to pick the best of all of these I would choose Sobers, closely followed by Pollock, Viv Richards and Tendulkar in no particular order. They all possessed 'genius' quality and could win matches on their own. Each hit the ball with incredible power. Sobers' record has stood the test of time for he made runs under all conditions against all types of bowling.
Tendulkar's record is also exceptional and he has played well against quality pace and spin. His clashes with Shane Warne in recent times, especially the past two Australian tours of India, have provided some excellent theatre.I have also seen him take on Saqlain (Mushtaq) and (Muttiah) Muralitharan in Sharjah and Sri Lanka respectively and he has taken them on and come out on top nearly every time. Tendulkar's record in the games India must win is excellent and stamps him as a true champion.His footwork and brute force are awesome to see and his range of strokeplay makes him the most awkward of customers against whom to bowl. I love to watch him bat because he has two or three options to the same delivery and he is just as likely to hit the best balls for four, or six.
If there were a weakness in his armoury some would say it is against quality fast bowling on the bouncy wickets of Australia. If that is true it doesn't make him Robinson Crusoe! All good players have been troubled by quality fast bowling on bouncy wickets at one time or another.As the pre-eminent batsman of his time, Tendulkar is always targeted by the opposition and has been tested on innumerable occasions. He has come out on top more often than not and his successes have usually carried India's fortunes with them.Few of Tendulkar's predecessors have played as much one-day cricket as he has and few, Bradman apart, have had to endure the pressure of mass adulation at home as he has.
The fact that he has endured the adulation, and the pressure of expectation of one billion fans, and has been able to maintain his equilibrium and his passion for the game is a great credit to him and his parents who obviously set an excellent foundation for him.
He cannot last forever so I make every effort to see him bat whenever I can for he is a rare gem, the like of which does not come along very often.
HERE'S an attempt to pick 10 of Sachin Tendulkar's best centuries out of the 35 he has scored till the conclusion of the New Delhi Test against Sri Lanka. This list is subjective and does not seek to take away any credit from the 25 hundreds that do not find mention here.
119 not out, Manchester, 1990: Just 17, he played an innings of immense maturity to deny England a victory. His unfinished partnership with Manoj Prabhakar was worth 160 runs but more than anything it was the quality of his batting that made the contest memorable. India was not equipped to make an assault at the target of 408 in 88 overs. Even a draw looked a difficult task as India slid to 183 for six.
Tendulkar made a resolve that he would not hesitate to play his shots. His partner, Manoj Prabakhar, was stunned by the young man's strokeplay under pressure. The positive path Tendulkar chose helped him play his natural game. His ability to keep playing his shots allowed the young batsman to upset the attack. The English were left frustrated as Tendulkar returned to a standing ovation from the audience. A star was born that day and the home of cricket was quick to hail the arrival of Tendulkar in the big league. Among those who watched from the Indian dressing room included batsmen like Navjot Sidhu, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohammad Azharuddin and Kapil Dev.
114, Perth, 1992: His personal best for many reasons. First, the bounce. Second, the pace of the wicket. Third, and not the least, the attack ? Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Paul Reiffel and Mike Whitney. No place for a spinner. The sensational strokeplay came in the first innings and left the cricket world in a trance. Batting on that track was a test of skills and courage, but Tendulkar was out to prove a point. His backfoot play took the wind out of the Aussie fast bowlers. Bouncers were smashed around and his shots square of the wicket were savage as he showed utter disdain for the attack. He met fire with fire and produced an innings that was applauded the world over for sheer quality. Shots exploded from his willow and the innings established him as a batsman with a great future.
111, Johannesburg, 1992: India's historic tour to South Africa was made memorable by Pravin Amre's century on debut at Durban on a lively track. Tendulkar left his mark on the series with a grand century at The Wanderers. South Africa boasted of an attack that included Allan Donald, Brian McMillan, Craig Matthews. To Tendulkar's credit, he unveiled a flawless display of aggressive batting. The faster they bowled the harder Tendulkar hit. He was not going to be rattled by the short ball at all. He arrived at the wicket with India struggling at 27 for two. It became 77 for four and Tendulkar was left with the lower order to salvage the situation. He shielded his partners and compiled his runs without any discomfort to come up with a sterling century. The South African fans mobbed him at the end of the match and in the melee someone snatched his cap. It was a sight as Tendulkar chased the man and retrieved his cap.
165, Madras, 1993: After the disastrous tour to South Africa, the Indians were under pressure to deliver when they took on England at home. Mohammad Azharuddin had produced an electrifying 182 in the first Test at Calcutta and the second at Madras was expected to extract the best out of Graham Gooch and his men. There was a lot of juice in the pitch, but Navjot Sidhu showed the way for Tendulkar to consolidate with a brilliant knock. Once again, he displayed amazing maturity to piece together an innings that put the issue beyond the Englishmen. It was a superbly paced innings that left Devon Malcolm, Chris Lewis, Paul Jarvis, Ian Salisbury and Phil Tufnell frustrated. On a bowler-friendly pitch, he had carved a century that is still remembered for some exhilarating strokeplay.
169, Cape Town, 1996: A regal show all the way. A breathtaking performance that came after the team was reduced to 58 for five. In a jugalbandi with Azharuddin, he destroyed the South African attack with a flurry of aggressive shots. The partnership was worth 222 runs and it took an incredible catch in the deep by Adam Bacher to stop the rampaging Tendulkar in his tracks. The innings was as good as a highlights package as he tore into the attack of Allan Donald, Brian McMillan, Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener. "One of the greatest knocks that I have seen in my life," said Madan Lal, coach of the team on that tour. He played every stroke in the book and earned a standing ovation from the audience at Newlands for an unforgettable knock.
155 not out, Chennai, 1998: This innings would always remain special even for Tendulkar because he showed the way to dominate leg-spin wizard Shane Warne. "He made it so easy for the rest. Every time Warne came around the stumps I would ask Sachin to take over. And what a show he produced. Sachin attacked Warne by hitting him against the turn. It was a sight for the gods really," said Navjot Sidhu. The calculated manner in which Tendulkar tamed Warne with some astonishing strokeplay was a treat for the spectators. It was a very professionally planned innings with vintage shots that gave the connoisseurs their money's worth. The assault made an impact on Warne, who was sporting enough to concede that he had been mastered by a truly great batsman. It indeed was a privilege to have watched one of the finest attacking innings in Test cricket.
136, Chennai, 1999: An innings that came in for praise even from the opposition. He almost created victory from a hopeless situation in the company of Nayan Mongia. If he failed to finish his job it was due to a painful back that hampered his movements during the latter, and most crucial, stages of his stay at the crease. Wasim Akram rated Tendulkar's effort as one of the all-time great knocks. "A flawless innings under great stress," was Akram's description of that heroic performance. The fourth innings target of 271 grew tougher because of the state of the pitch. The ball was turning and off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq had tasted blood. India stood staring at defeat at 82 for five when Tendulkar took over the stage in his inimitable way. He battled back spasms and an inspired attack that made run-making an extremely tough task. Akram, Saqlain, Waqar Younis, Nadeem Khan and Shahid Afridi tried every trick to unsettle the maestro but met with staunch resistance. "It was an innings that only Sachin could have played," recalled Mongia. Having scripted a remarkable recovery, Tendulkar succumbed to the guiles of Saqlain, who induced an unwise swipe, just the shot that Sunil Gavaskar had cautioned him against at the start of the day's play. The Pakistanis won by 12 runs and received a standing ovation from the sporting Madras crowd. Tendulkar lost the match but won the `Man of the Match' award. But he is still haunted by the heartbreaking defeat.
193, Leeds, 2002: For Yorkshire natives, it was a grand treat. Centuries from Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Nasser Hussain made it an unforgettable batting feast in conditions that were favourable for the bowlers. The English attack of Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Caddick, Alex Tudor, Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles was handled with ?lan by Tendulkar. He enjoyed an outstanding tour and did not let down his supporters with an innings that evoked appreciation from Hussain. The Englishman described Tendulkar's majestic essay as an "education" in batting. Tendulkar was involved in two partnerships ? with Dravid and Ganguly ? that sealed England's fate despite some negative bowling by the home bowlers. Tendulkar played the dominating role and carried the innings on his shoulders. His knock was the motivation for the bowlers to fashion a comprehensive innings victory.
241 not out, Sydney, 2004: It was the last Test of a highly competitive series, and also the farewell match for Steve Waugh, one of the greatest cricketers the game has seen. Tendulkar, having struggled in the preceding matches, chose the appropriate stage to sign off the series in style. This was certainly not the best of his centuries but it was his most determined in a long time. His first double century outside India was his way of paying tribute to Waugh, who was known for similar tenacity. "Happy to score runs against a team like Australia," was a simple comment from Tendulkar but his innings was a big lesson in building an innings and playing within one's limitations. Tendulkar fought indifferent form with an amazingly disciplined knock that saw him avoid off-side shots. As a result, he came up with some great on-side play and worked the ball relentlessly to defy the Australian game plan. One could not recall a single cover-driven four since he had cut out that shot to avoid getting into trouble. The `Man of the Match' award was a fitting honour to his dedication in the middle. 194 not out, Multan, 2004: This innings is a part of history. India's first ever Test win on Pakistan soil, the first ever triple century in Tests by an Indian (309 by Virender Sehwag) and the controversy over Rahul Dravid's declaration, leaving Tendulkar stranded six runs short of a double century on the trot, added to the excitement of the contest. With Sehwag on the rampage, Tendulkar did not mind playing the second fiddle and ensured the team did not lose focus. He was instrumental in setting up a huge total that put Pakistan under tremendous pressure. Apart from playing his customary role of giving the innings direction, Tendulkar also guided Sehwag, who acknowledged his partner's priceless contribution. Tendulkar's was a solid effort and his monumental association with Sehwag was one of the highlight
I first saw Sachin Tendulkar when I was 14, in an U-15 game between West Zone and South Zone at Cuttack in 1986. I was a substitute; Sachin was playing, and got 60-odd. I saw him again the next year in an U-17 game at Nagpur. A number of things struck me about Sachin: that he was obviously a special talent, that he used a very heavy bat for one so young, and also that his bat was a fine imported Slazenger, the envy of many of us! Within a couple of years, he was playing for India, and taking on Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in Pakistan.
In the early nineties satellite television had just come in, and we all watched Sachin's progress with a great deal of interest and took inspiration from him. Here you were, struggling to score runs in a Ranji Trophy game, and there he was, taking on the best attacks in the world, a teenager with the maturity and understanding of a veteran.
I believe his success was also beneficial to us in another way. After him a lot more young cricketers started getting fast-tracked into Ranji sides. Previously you would have to wait till you were 19 or 20 at least before you were considered. I got into my state side at 17; Sourav Ganguly did so at much the same age; Vinod Kambli got an early opportunity to play Test cricket ... more opportunities were available to young players than before.
Sachin has been a great influence on my career. I made my debut for India in 1996 and after a while settled into the No. 3 slot in both forms of the game, and since he opened in one-day cricket and batted at four in Tests, we've spent a lot of time batting together, during which I've always regarded myself fortunate to have the best seat in the house. In Test cricket, three and four are key positions in the batting order, and it is important that the two men there have games that complement each other. Just his entry would create a stir in the opposition, who would then focus almost entirely on getting him out. This allowed me to go about quietly doing my job at the other end.
Like most other great batsmen, Sachin possesses the ability to control where the bowlers bowl to him: sometimes by taking chances and going on the attack against them, like he did against Shane Warne at Chennai in 1998, or even with a more defensive strategy, like leaving balls outside off stump alone and forcing bowlers to bowl straighter at him.
Sachin's greatest attribute is his ability to adapt to different situations. It doesn't matter if the wicket is low and slow, or fast and bouncy - he just works out what shots he has to play and goes about it. I remember how once in the West Indies in 1997 we played a one-dayer at Trinidad in which we had to bat first against Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop and Franklyn Rose on a pitch on which the ball was doing all sorts of things. Sachin sized up the situation quickly and unleashed a flurry of strokes to disconcert the bowlers. He was out for 44, by which time he had already hit 10 fours.
The hallmark of a great player is how you perform in different situations, and also how you perform when you're not playing at your best - like Sachin's double-hundred in Australia when he was going through a lean trot. He just decided to eschew certain shots and piled up a big score. That is why I have little patience with those who say that Sachin these days doesn't often bat with the dash and flair of old. I've never seen any batsman play in one way right through his career - your responsibilities change, your body changes, the way you think changes. Finally the most important measure of an innings is its value to the side. Many of Sachin's knocks, like that double-hundred at Sydney, even if more restrained and not as pleasing to spectators as some of the blazing innings of old, have been contributions as crucial and significant as any he has made before.
In fact, it is interesting to watch the way Sachin still scores at a very high rate in the one-day game, but in a slightly different way from before - without hitting over the top as much as he used to - because he has learned how to work the ball around at will: he achieves the same results with a different method. In particular, the emergence of Virender Sehwag as his opening partner in the one-day game has led to Sachin adjusting his game slightly. I think he sees a young Tendulkar in Sehwag, and wants him to have the license to play freely; besides, he knows that you don't have to go bang-bang at both ends to keep the scoreboard rattling along.
Even now, his technique and in particular his balance are impeccable. That flick he plays behind square leg to the fast bowlers, often taking the ball right off his stumps, is all about perfection of balance. No other batsman in world cricket can do it quite like him.
How do you choose a bat?To me the shape is very important. The bat must be thick and have more meat near the bottom. There should be a rounded kind of a blade. I don?t like a slim, flat blade. I want power in my shots so the bat should be thick and strong.
How much should it weigh?
Earlier, I used to play with a 3 pounds 2 ounces bat, but now I prefer a slightly lighter one. This is because I sprained my wrist in a benefit match. Kiran More was bowling. He tossed up a full toss which I tried to hit hard, and sprained my wrist. The pain would not go so I was forced to use a lighter bat. But that is still heavier than what other players in the team play with.
Why so heavy?
I am just used to a heavy bat. I feel comfortable. It helps while playing on the up and forcing the ball in front of the wicket.
How many grips do you use?
Three, the thick handle gives me a better grip and feel. I feel comfortable and that is important because the feel is crucial.
What about the grains in the willow?
In a bat the feel is the most important factor. You pick up a bat, hold it in your hand and straightaway know whether it is right or wrong. For me grains are not an important consideration, there are various theories about the grains? some feel if they are close together the bat breaks quicker? but I don?t worry about these things. I have played with various makes in my career, as long as it suits me it is fine.
How many bats do you use each season?
It depends. There was one bat which I used for about two- and- a- half years. It lasted till the last World Cup. I used to clean it myself. It was badly taped and each time I removed the tape the chips from the blade would come off. I would then carefully rearrange each piece, put a lot of superglue on the blade and stick back each piece one by one, then bind it up with tape again. It was a very good bat and I made lots of runs with it.
Do you change your bat during an innings?
No, I prefer to bat with the same bat.
How do your bats normally break? From the bottom?
Yes, usually. You mistime a shot and if it is near the bottom there is a danger of a crack developing. Sometimes the handle gives way, near the V. The edges are all right, you might chip the outside edge, depending on how you play, but that is all right. I try and save my better bats, I don?t use them in the nets. I don?t want to risk my match bat in the nets.
What?s your favourite footwear?
I have always played with half- spikes, with metal studs round the toes and rubber studs otherwise. Even while fielding. I have never used the usual ankle high, full spikes which bowlers need.
And other gear?
I prefer the lightweight morrant pads, I have played with them for long, the ball hits the pad and goes off, you can get a leg bye easily. The ball doesn?t drop dead, it travels off the pad. I normally don?t use chest guards. In Australia for a few innings I played with them because I had an injury.
What?s your training schedule like?
I am fit but I could be better; there is a lot of scope for improvement. Unfortunately I don?t like running, I prefer other exercises like training, stretching. I don?t think I?ve made a mistake on a cricket field because of being unfit. I have never got out because I felt tired. I run my singles hard and whenever there?s a need I push myself on the field and stretch.
Have you tried yoga?
For a while I tried some breathing exercises but I gave up. I don?t have any special methods for concentration. I guess this is largely innate.