Sachin Tendulkar - Our hero will be missed during the World Cup
When India meet Pakistan in the high-octane ICC Cricket World Cup encounter on February 15 at the Adelaide Oval, one important thing will be missing: our awe-inspiring cricket hero, Sachin Tendulkar. The batting maestro, who has retired from the game after a glorious 24-year career, was a constant presence in each of the five contests between the arch-rivals in the World Cups from 1992-2011, picking up three man-of-the-match awards and stamping his authority on the biggest stage, which had all ended in India's favour.
It is well established that cricket is everything to India as a nation and Tendulkar has carried the burning passion and expectations of infinite number of people for over two decades; he has done so with maximum dignity and grace. It is almost unthinkable for us to see an Indian team-sheet without Tendulkar’s name on it. But, alas! This Sunday, the nation will no longer be swinging to the chant "Sachiiiiiiiiiin, Saaaachin!!!"
We will miss this long and soothing beat – the demanding yet pleading voice of billions. We will miss the oblivious Tendulkar behind his helmet, unaffected by the mass adulation and expectations of apprehensive souls. That familiar roar across the stadium will be missing. We will miss his steady walk down to the 22-yards with the willow tucked under the elbow and that one glance to the heavens before he takes guard. We will miss the silent prayer that expects him to play a big innings. We will miss crossing our fingers when he is on strike.
We will miss our sweaty palms during the nervous 90s. We will miss the skipped heartbeats during that insignificant LBW appeal. We will also miss the silence that follows after his dismissal. That sudden transition from ecstasy to numbness will be missed. Needless to say, we will all miss the Tendulkar habit.
Tendulkar’s impact was beyond mere numbers
Tendulkar wasn't just an Indian cricketer who had insane records and numbers to showcase for his grand achievement; he was the Face of the Game. The legacy he has left behind is something that the game will cherish for generations to come, and the standards he has set will be very hard to match even by the top players of today. He was a little man in dimension, but he stood up to the fiercest pace bowlers of the day whether Allan Donald, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose or Glenn McGrath – hooking, cutting, and driving them straight with the authority of a champion, with pure class, sheer brilliance and unparalleled humility.
We all wish we could get one last glimpse of the trademark cover drives and hooks. We have watched almost every one of his 100 centuries. We have probably even cheered every one of his boundaries. We have got angry every time he was unjustly given out by the umpire. We have even shed tears each time his dismissal put paid to hopes of an Indian victory. We have stood at shops in the street to have a glimpse of his genius. We have manipulated unapproved sick leaves in office just to see our hero bat.
Some of the happiest times of our childhood were correlated with Tendulkar’s form. We cannot imagine a World Cup match without the solace and consolation that he brought to a divided nation by the sheer technique of his batting; as poet CP Surendran once remarked, while other batsmen walked out to bat alone, when Tendulkar came to the crease, "a whole nation, tatters and all, marched with him to the battle arena". Here were "one billion hard-pressed Indians" with "just one hero". Not anymore.
India will forever be indebted to Sachin
This feels different and strange. But, as they say, all good things come to an end. Cricket in India and Team India in World Cups have always been synonymous with his game. We remember each of his innings like the back of our hand. It is this bond that governs our emotions today and it is this bond that will be reminisced when we watch India take on Pakistan this Sunday.
With a glorious heritage and with statistics on our side, we are still not 100% confident without our hero. With a heavy heart, we will have to finally accept his departure from the game. The time is up, the dream is gone, and the baton has been passed. The pressure on the young team stays at an all-time high.
The billion joys that he has brought in all these years with his infinite patience for genius will always be in our most pleasurable memories. The mortal fans remain forever in debt.
Thank you, master.