Sachin: An Emotion

As the Master Blaster turns 47, his impact on our lives cannot be replicated even when his record of 100 international centuries may probably be broken.

There are two kinds of cricket players—impact players and dependable players. One of the rare players who had both these qualities was Sachin Tendulkar. India had its fair share of swashbuckling batsmen in the past, but what made Sachin special was that he enchanted us consistently with his technically correct and aggressive stroke play. We knew we were in for a treat every time Sachin walked out to bat. Now, with the world in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic and no live cricket taking place, let’s reminisce and look back at some of Sachin’s most memorable innings. First on the list is the epic 136 versus Pakistan in January 1999. India was playing Pakistan in a Test series after 10 long years and anticipation among fans was sky-high. The first Test in Chennai was a see-saw affair with neither side able to get a clear advantage. However, on Day 4, India slumped to 82 for the loss of five wickets, chasing 270 for a win. Sachin, suffering from severe back spasms, stitched a vital partnership with Nayan Mongia. Sachin scored 136 that day and put India on course to a famous victory until he topedged a ball from Saqlain Mushtaq. The collapse and subsequent 12 run loss that followed thereafter was characteristic of India’s batting in the 1990s. The India-Pakistan clash in the 2003 World Cup was another match which goes down in history as one of the classics. When Pakistan made 273, many of us were genuinely concerned. The Pakistani bowling attack was formidable with not a single weak link, but the way Sachin took them apart left us amazed. The ferocious attack by him that day made the Pakistanis run for cover. He not only anchored the chase, but also instilled fear into the opposition. His 103 versus England in 2008 is steeped in significance. England had decided to return home in the aftermath of the horrific attacks of 26/11. However, they returned in December to play two Tests, the first of which was held in Chennai. Chasing 387 runs to win on the fifth day, India, led by Sachin, went for the win. The determination shown by him in the chase made us forget the pain which the recent terror attacks had caused us. After the match, Sachin dedicated the victory to the people who had lost their lives in the attacks. In 2009, Sachin was aged 36 and there were some who were calling for his retirement. But as always, Sachin let his bat do the talking. Australia scored a mammoth 350 on a flat wicket in Hyderabad and it seemed that all hope was lost. However, Sachin, the eternal optimist, chose to fight on and made 175 in what will go down as one of the most inspirational innings, albeit in a losing cause. That day, Sachin gave us hope. Hope to fight on despite the odds and doubts posed by the naysayers. The last on my list of great Sachin innings is his 140 versus Kenya in the 1999 World Cup. Sachin had gone back to India during the tournament due to the sudden death of his beloved father. However, he returned a few days later to score what must have been the most emotional innings of his career. Fighting back tears, he made an impeccable 140 and on reaching the three-figure mark, he looked to the skies and thanked and remembered his late father, who was the most influential person in his life. Watching Sachin play was magical. While his record of 100 international centuries may probably be broken by a certain man from New Delhi, the impact that Sachin had on our lives cannot be replicated. Sachin isn’t just a man, Sachin is an emotion. It’s no wonder that the chant “Sachin! Sachin!” still brings goosebumps to many even seven years after his retirement. Thanks for the memories Sachin! And Happy Birthday!