By Dhananjay Devasper
Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th and final Test had all the elements of a Bollywood potboiler. The event had captured the imagination of every cricket fan in India. And true to its billing, the Test match played at the Wankhede Stadium had a bit of everything.
A few moments stood out…
The Guard of Honour
Darren Sammy and the West Indian team gave a guard of honour, when Tendulkar came in to bat. The jarring note was for the television viewers when the broadcaster showed Nita Ambani clapping instead of beaming images of the maestro walking out to bat to a ceremonial welcome by the opposition team. Not surprisingly, the broadcasters were lampooned on the social media platforms. Thankfully a decent version cropped up on YouTube.
The Indian team then decided to give its own version of the guard of honour. It was decided in a huddle, at the fall of a West Indies wicket. The entire Indian team, minus Sachin Tendulkar, got together and planned it. For those of us in the stadium, all we saw was Tendulkar walking back to his fielding position alone, while the entire team was in a huddle. What the fans got to see at the end of the game was a “moving” guard of honour, where the Indian team flanked Tendulkar, till he reached the end of the ground.
Playing to the galleries
By the third day, it was evident that the West Indies were facing an uphill task and there was serious doubt whether they would last the day. That was when the crowd started chanting “Sachin bowling”. While Tendulkar tried to pacify the crowd indicating his shoulder was sore, the crowd was in no mood to listen. And when it looked like Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in no mood to give in, chants of “Dhoni hai hai” were heard. A few wickets later, the Indian captain made everyone’s day when he tossed the ball to Tendulkar for a couple of overs. That was enough to bring the roof down at the Wankhede. Needless to say the grateful crowd then started on a “Dhoni Zindabad” chant. The fickle nature of an Indian fan was seen in all its ‘glory’!
Cheering an Indian wicket and a missed century
One has to feel for Murali Vijay. It was the second time in two Tests that the Indian fans cheered wildly at the fall of an Indian wicket. Each time his was the second Indian wicket to fall, which meant one thing: entry of the Legend. While Tendulkar did not do much in the Test at Kolkata, he looked in fine touch at the Wankhede Stadium, and was on his way to a befitting century when Darren Sammy took a sharp catch to break a billion hearts and give Narsingh Deonarine his own personal place in cricket history — much like Eric Hollies.
BCCI and MCA officials booed
The BCCI and MCA officials got a taste of the unforgiving nature of the Mumbai crowd. As they made their way to the ground, the MCA president, Sharad Pawar was booed. During the presentation ceremony, boos emanated from the crowd whenever the name of the BCCI and MCA dignitaries were announced. Most likely the crowd was completely annoyed at how only 5000 tickets were available for the general public, but the stands were only 60% to 70% full. Adding to the woes of people, tickets were freely available in the black market for Rs 15000. This clearly meant that the average cricketing fan had to pay through his nose for his personal “I was there” moment.
The final goodbye
Finally the moment arrived and Tendulkar was given the microphone. It was a heart-rending speech that brought moved the nation to tears and brought lumps to their throats, Tendulkar spoke of every person who had an influence in his life. It was a moment which summed up the greatness of the man, when he thanked his family first and then proceeded to acknowledge every person who made a contribution to his life and career. Ian Bishop summed it up correctly when he said the speech should be made mandatory viewing for every young cricketer.
And, finally, when it was all over, it still hadn’t sunk in for most in the crowd and millions all over the country. After all for someone who has been the face of Indian cricket for 24 years, it’s not easy to imagine that Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar would no longer be playing for India.
(Dhananjay Devasper is an “IT guy” by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)
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