By Shitanshu Kotak
This is an incident that happened three years ago. Before I left for my benefit year at my club Kenilworth Warden in England, a senior guy had requested for a picture of me with Tendulkar and that point I realised that I didn’t have a single photograph with Sachin in all these years of knowing him.
This was during the end of April when I texted Sachin whether I could get a photo with him. There was just three-four days’ time on hand. In the first week of May I was heading to England. Sachin replied back asking how much time I had. I said I am in Mumbai now and will be leaving for Rajkot in a day, with the departure to England scheduled in three days.
Sachin was about to leave for Pune then and inquired where I was staying in Mumbai. I told him I was in Chembur that time. He promptly asked me to come to the new flyover built nearby as he will be heading to Pune via Chembur. I was standing under the bridge and he promised to come in 10 minutes. He kept his word and arrived there. We clicked a photograph and spoke for some time. He also gifted me his Mumbai Indians jersey that he wore in the final that year for auction.
He just wanted to support someone who has been in cricket for that long. He is not really a close friend and he doesn’t need to do all that. But that’s how genuine and helpful Sachin is.
I don’t think there can be another Tendulkar in years. He is the finest combination you can see of a great cricketer and good human being.
— As told to Abhijit Banare
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(Shitanshu Kotak is a veteran Ranji cricketer who has played for Saurashtra for more than two decades. He plays for Kenilworth Wardens club and coaches young aspiring cricketers.)