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Sachin Tendulkar – A fighter at 16

At 16,Sachin Tendulkar batted as if he had been playing Test cricket for 16 years.

New Delhi |
November 17, 2013 12:59:14 am

At 16,Sachin Tendulkar batted as if he had been playing Test cricket for 16 years.

2nd Test,Day 1

Faislabad,Nov 23: We had a glimpse into the future of Indian cricket at Faisalabad on Thursday as Sanjay Manjrekar (58) and Sachin Tendulkar (35) put on 99 for the unfinished fifth wicket to take India to 200 for four at close on the opening day of the second Test against Pakistan.

India,asked to bat by Imran Khan,who won the toss,had been reduced to 101 for four by left-arm medium pacers Wasim Akram and Salim Jaffer. On a wicket where the batsmen needed to be extra watchful,most of them fell to some of the oldest tricks in the book.

Tendulkar playing only his second Test has already batted two and a half hours. Just two boundaries marked his effort. For the rest,it was remarkable restraint. He batted as if he had been playing Test cricket for 16 years rather than like one who is just that many years old. It is too early for comparisons but rather than a second (Sunil) Gavaskar or (Gundappa) Viswanath it is clear that a first Tendulkar has arrived.

Khan brought himself on when Tendulkar arrived. But the youngster was untroubled.

For India,here without (Mohinder) Amarnath or (Dilip) Vengsarkar,it was another day of discovery. Manoj Prabhakar at Karachi and now Tendulkar here. Surely,the nucleus of a major team is beginning to form.

4th Test,Day 2

Sialkot,Dec 10: It was a case of each cook adding his own ingredient to the broth as India made 324 in the fourth and final Test against Pakistan on Sunday. Sachin Tendulkar’s technically sound batting was matched by Wasim Akram’s controlled bowling which fetched him five wickets for 101 runs (though Tendulkar got past only 30).

Tendulkar came sweaterless on a cold morning with many on the ground contemplating wearing a third. He looked like a schoolboy who had lost his way into a men’s club. But that was only till he took guard. He proceeded to play one of the best short innings by an Indian batsman in Test cricket. Defence seemed the last resort,which,given the conditions and the bowling,spoke of a rare confidence in a 16-year-old playing his fourth Test.

Technically,he didn’t put a foot wrong in his 50-ball innings till he did so literally,trying to drive to Akram and missing the line to be leg before wicket. What he will achieve once the rough edges are smoothened is mind-boggling.

For Tendulkar did not get out because he lost concentration,but because he did not understand which weapon to pull out of his armoury. And that knowledge can only come with experience.

A quarter century on,it’s Test No. 200

This was Sachin Tendulkar’s first full tour — and mine too. I was convinced he would make a century on debut,which would have made him the youngest Test centurion. That didn’t happen,but right from the start,one always thought of Tendulkar in record-breaking terms.

Imran Khan told someone that he was conscious of bowling to a mere schoolboy. Rather mischievously,I repeated this to Tendulkar,who said,firmly,“Tell Mr Khan,I don’t need charity.”

Journalists wrote about him as if he were a veteran,though the first signs of a stubble were not yet evident. Confronted with past reports,it’s good to see I got the Tendulkar impact right.

Tendulkar was a delight at team parties. We had to come wearing different disguises and pictures of a bearded Tendulkar soon made it to the newspapers. Years later,at a photo studio in Kolkata,I saw some of those pictures displayed.

Soon came Peshawar and the assault on Abdul Qadir,leading skipper Srikkanth to say,“We must play the bugger (in the one-dayers) now!” The earlier plan had been to keep him out of the shorter game — how quaint all that seems now.

Now,a quarter century on,it’s Test No. 200. There will be only a few of us to have watched the little man’s first and last Tests. Perhaps,that first tour saw a change of guard in cricket writers too. Of those in the press box in Pakistan then,Dicky Rutnagur,Sunder Rajan,CS Rao and R Sriman are no more,while R Mohan and Ayaz Memon don’t tour as much. Kishin Wadhwaney continues to write in his 80s. As does Mudar Patherya,about three decades younger,but cricket writing is not the priority. The Kolkata triumvirate of Debashis Datta,Gautam Bhattacharya and LP Sahi are still at it.

Tendulkar’s retirement might be a reminder of our own mortality; his debut recalls a time when we thought the world and all of us would remain young forever.

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