Sachin Tendulkar: Is the inevitable here?
The punch off the back foot, that flowing cover drive, that cheeky upper cut, his very own lap shot, the little crouch of the legs: all of this will very soon be a thing of the past. Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the best batsman the world has ever seen, sooner than later has to go; it will happen; the writing is on the wall.
Even as Ricky Ponting announced his retirement from international cricket, the whole cricketing world seems to be peeking into the Little Master’s mind. The speculations have become ever riper about his retirement. It could be Nagpur, the venue for the last Test match against England, or he might want to face the Australians one last time. Now or then, there is no denying that the boots have already worn out. The thread seems to be hanging by the last knot.
Karachi, 1989: India Vs Pakistan. The stadium jam-packed, the crowd having come in to witness another one of the many historical on-field battles between the arch-rivals. What the crowd failed to take notice of, was a 16-year-old young man – probably because of his boyish looks. Sachin Tendulkar had arrived.
Over the years, he has continued to mesmerize us with his art: the art of Sachin Tendulkar’s batting. Records have been broken like a pack of cards, he has given nightmares to the best of the bowlers, cricket historians have fallen short of words in his praise. It could only be ironical that he was born in a nation that eats, talks and dreams cricket. Sachin Tendulkar has been the most celebrated cricketer of all times.
He has accumulated runs at will – both in ODIs as well as Tests. And these records appear to be already out of the grasp of the lesser mortals of today’s generation. His ability to read the length of the ball was immaculate, and his placements, unmatched. Something that underlines his above abilities is one particular shot that he played against Dale Steyn during the 2011 World Cup. Power-play over going on, packed off-side field, Steyn fires it full outside the off stump, just about within the white lines. What does Sachin Tendulkar do? One stride across and the ball races to the square-leg boundary. Sorry to be challenging your imagination, but that was the man’s stature.
However big a star he might have been, the truth is that all the good things have to come to an end. How can Sachin be any different? A lot of Sachinists might be offended by this, but the truth is that his time is up. The statistics and his performances show that. There is no hiding from the fact, however harsh it might be. Time is running out. By his own admission, he is lasting on a match-by-match basis. He indeed has earned the right to call the shots in this final phase of his career, but, if at all anything, he is only showing his desperation to extend his career. And the stretch marks are showing.
Even as his heartbeats race, pondering over that one final decision, let us savour these final moments of his ever-inspiring career. Let us witness those straight drives, lets witness that upper cut – it may be our last chance. A great man once said, “When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch”. Lets make sure that when Sachin Tendulkar flashes in front of our eyes, we have captured enough to bring about a smile on our faces.