November 17, 2013 5:23:20 am
It was an emotional day for fans across the nation,as Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar bid adieu to international cricket,playing his 200th Test match at the Wankhede Stadium against West Indies on Saturday. Although he first made a name for himself overseas before playing his first game on the Indian soil,not many know that Sachin Tendulkar started his Test cricket journey on home soil in 1990,when Mohammed Azharudin-led Indian team took on Sri Lanka in a Test match played at Sector 16 Stadium in Chandigarh. Tendulkar,then 17,had impressed everyone with the bat,scoring two fifties against Pakistan in Faisalabad and Sialkot,and 88 against New Zealand in Napier and then 119 versus England at Manchester.
And now it was his turn to grab the eyeballs at the quaint Chandigarh. Hordes of fans had flocked the stadium to see their favourite stars like Kapil Dev,Mohammed Azharuddin,Navjot Sidhu and also a lean-looking lad named Sachin Tendulkar,who belonged to Mumbai.
Recalling the days,Harish Sharma,coach at Sector 16 Stadium and also former Himachal Pradesh Ranji Trophy cricketer,said,”In the build up to this particular match,fans were excited to see Kapil Dev who was the local hero at that time. After the 1983 World Cup triumph,Kapil had become the heartbeat of the nation and the fact that he was playing at his home ground made it more special. But there was also a following for a young cricketer who was playing his third Test and the first in India: he was Sachin Tendulkar. Although the number of autograph hunters going after him was less,the reputation he was carrying with himself made him stand out in the cricket circles. I remember he was doing knocking in the practice nets from the wrong side; so I told him to correct it. After that he arrived in Chandigarh,it’s commendable he remained the same on all junctures. Hats off to him!”
In that debut match in India,Tendulkar made just 11 and fans cheered for him despite the presence of players like Kapil Dev,Manoj Prabhakar,Navjot Singh Sidhu and Ravi Shastri on the field.
Former international and Ranji cricketer Monish Aggarwal -a contemporary of Sachin Tendulkar,has memories of that particular game. A member of the Punjab Ranji squad,Aggarwal who is also son of late Desh Prem Azad,took part in the practice sessions with the Indian team.
This is what he said,”I had played against Sachin in the zonal matches before 1990. We all had heard and witnessed his talent. The way he batted in the practice nets showed his intensity. He was very shy and humble. My father had predicted his success,as Kapil also spoke highly of him. Later in 2010,my father met him at a function in Chandigarh and requested him for a photograph,and he obliged with gratitude. It was his sheer greatness.”
Echoing Monish’s thoughts,his brother Sanjeev Aggarwal,who is also a former international and Ranji cricketer,said,”I also met Sachin during the 1990 match. His timing and balance was superb and he would listen to Kapil with utmost attention. He was the baby of the team at that time. He has been a great ambassador of the game. All youngsters aspire to be like him.”
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