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Growing up with Sachin Tendulkar

After watching a certain Sachin Tendulkar play for the last 17 years, I cannot help but feel that I have lost an integral part of my life today. For Sachin Tendulkar was no ordinary run-of-the-mill cricketer. Mere words cannot describe what a terrific one day player Sachin Tendulkar was. Watching Sachin Tendulkar bat gives you the most amazing feeling.

The year was 1989, the month was November and the opponent, Pakistan. The world got a first look at a young teenager who would go on to win a billion hearts with his sheer brilliance. While he didn’t exactly set the stage on fire, the mastery was there for all to see. His first Test century against England in Manchester made him the second youngest cricketer to score a Test century.

The first time I watched Sachin play was during the 1996 World Cup in India. The first match was against Kenya and Sachin scored an unbeaten 127. Watching the Master in action was mesmerizing. I took an instant liking to the game and of course, to Sachin himself. Sachin went on to become the top-scorer in almost every one of India’s matches.

Who can forget the epic quarterfinal against Pakistan? Sidhu and Sachin opened with a 90-run partnership and laid a solid foundation for India. The next match was the semifinal against Sri Lanka. India was chasing 252 and with Sachin at the crease, it seemed like the target would be attained easily. But with the score on 98, Sachin got out. What followed will never be forgotten by Indian cricket fans. The rest of the batsmen were unable to deal with the Sri Lankan spinners and from 98/1, team India spectacularly collapsed to 120/8. The fans could not take it anymore and created a ruckus in the stadium. The match was abandoned and India was knocked out of the World Cup.

After the World Cup, Tendulkar unleashed himself against Australia in Sharjah. His two centuries in the league match and in the finals were two of his best knocks ever. Sachin simply tore apart the Australian attack in a brutal assault, winning the match single-handedly. In the 1999 World Cup, Sachin scored a century against Kenya after his father’s death.

During the 2003 World Cup, Sachin ended up as the highest run-scorer in the tournament, setting a record in the process. Sachin was back to his irresistible best during the 2003 World Cup. His 98 against Pakistan will rank among one of his best knocks. With a bowling attack consisting of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, the Master decimated the attack with a fine show of aggression, shredding the attack to bits. India was on an unbeaten streak, but unfortunately faltered at the last hurdle. A forlorn Sachin was almost in tears when he was presented with the Player of the Tournament. His long cherished dream would have to wait longer.

Tendulkar continued to scale new peaks and set new records. He became the highest run-scorer in ODIs against Australia and broke the record for the most number of Test centuries against Sri Lanka in 2005. The 2007 World Cup was one of the lowest points of Sachin’s career.

India had won the CB series in Australia after Sachin had scored a century in the first finals. In the 2011 World Cup, Sachin was back to his best, opening the innings with Sehwag. Sachin scored two hundreds in the league stage against England and South Africa. In the quarterfinals, Sachin scored a fighting half-century against a good Australian attack. In the semifinal Sachin scored 84 against arch rivals Pakistan. On April 2 2011, Sachin Tendulkar had achieved his only unfulfilled goal – winning the World Cup. After six attempts, Sachin was successful.

Sachin Tendulkar had some nervy moments but also played some forceful shots, India v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, World Cup 2011, Mohali, March 30, 2011

Sachin’s 100th international century came against Bangladesh after a long wait, and the world rejoiced. In his last One Day International, Sachin scored 52 against Pakistan. So after 23 years,  463 matches, 49 centuries, 96 half-centuries and 18,426 runs, we the fans of India and the world will no longer see a legend represent India in a colored shirt. No more will we see records being set every other day. No more will have incentive to watch a match just for one man. No more will the fans leave the stadium after the fall of their beloved number 10. No more will we hear the chants of “Sachin Sachin Sachin” in a One Day International. With a heavy heart, it’s time to say goodbye. Fans have always dreaded this day. The Indian cricket team will no doubt lose a sizable chunk of its fans.

Sachin Tendulkar has in many ways symbolized hope. He has shown us that anything is possible. He has shown us that God does exist. He has taught us the meaning of hope. Sachin has carried the hopes of an entire nation for 23 years. While the rest of the team crumbled around him, he would never give up and fight till the end. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, you are truly immortal. We will miss you. Farewell GOD.

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