By Padmakar Shivalkar
In the 1980s, I was playing for Tatas and against Cricket Club of India (CCI) at the Islam Gymkhana. A baby-faced teenager walked out to bat for the CCI and impressed all of us with his performance that day. The way he played told us that he was special and that he had a bright future in store. Little did we know that he would go on to break so many international records. When you see a promising kid, you temper your expectations, but there was no denying his talent. I was bowling well, but he reached the pitch of the ball and played along the ground.
It was only years later that I found out that that kid was none other than Sachin Tendulkar. I had attended a function at the Shivaji Park along with Nari Contractor and Hemant Kenkre. There, Hemant told me that it was Sachin who had played against us that day in the 1980s. After that day at the Islam Gymkhana, I had of course heard a lot about Sachin as he was making waves in school cricket, but I could watch him properly only when he made it to the bigger league.
There was one occasion when I attended a function at the CCI club house and as I entered the hall, I could see a group of young players engaged in a discussion. From that group emerged a young boy and came towards me. He greeted me and asked me how I was. That boy was Sachin — by then a big name in cricket. Yet, Sachin is always very respectful towards his elders.
The biggest compliment Sachin has received was from Sir Don Bradman. The fact that the great Australian batsman and his wife felt that he reminded them of his style is a huge compliment. One is short of words when we want to appreciate a player of the calibre of Sachin. Sachin’s list of high-calibre innings runs long. That list includes his 79 not out in a high-pressure game and against all odds in what was his final Ranji innings, an innings which provides eloquent testimony to his durability and consistency.
Sachin was born on this planet to play cricket. He is the chosen one of the Almighty. You cannot stop such divinely blessed players from dominating the world. All one can do is to sit and admire the unfolding of surreal events.
The time is fast nearing for Sachin to pack up his kitbag, but the heart yearns that he goes on and on.
- As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya
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(Padmakar Shivalkar is one of the greatest left-arm spinners in the history of cricket who, sadly, did not get to play for the country because of the presence of Bishan Singh Bedi. Playing for Mumbai during the era of India’s famous spin-quartet, Shivalkar was a terror with the ball on the domestic scene. In 124 First-Class matches, he took 589 wickets at an average of 19.69 and an economy of 2.04. After retirement, Shivalkar has coached and mentored many players)