By Abhishek Nayar
My first distinct memory of Sachin Tendulkar is of him smashing those ‘Sandstorm’ tons against Australia at Sharjah in 1998. The 143 helped India qualify for the final and then in the big game, he answered calls with an innings of 134 to help India lift the trophy. I was a young boy then and those knocks had a huge impact on me. I immediately realised how great a player he was and what he could do with the willow in hand. For me, that was an inspiring example for life.
I also trained under Ramakant Achrekar Sir, who is Sachin’s coach. Earlier, I was too young to realise Sachin’s greatness, but once I did, he was always my role model. He was this idol we looked up to while training and someone we all wanted to be like.
My first meeting with him was a memorable one. I had just been dropped from the Mumbai team and I was lucky that I got the opportunity to talk to him. Although he was meeting me for the first time, he was very kind and chatted with me at length. It came at a time when I was feeling lost and was down considering that I had been dropped. But, Sachin spoke to me for an hour about batting and it helped clear my mind. I worked hard and came back strongly. That conversation has stayed with me and has left a huge impression on me forever.
While playing for India, Mumbai and Mumbai Indians, I have shared the dressing room with Sachin and his mere presence is second to none. The experience he has is a treasure and we learn a lot from it. That is something that would always be memorable and I would hold on to. Initially, I felt overawed looking at him in the dressing room, but learnt a lot from him with passage of time.
I was a part of the Indian team when Sachin’s hit the first double memorable in One-Day Internationals (ODI). After those two Sharjah knocks, it is this innings that I would always remember and cherish.
Whatever I say about Sachin is less. He has been a perfect role model and to go on for so long without any controversies is truly remarkable. His legend will live on!
— As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya
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(Abhishek Nayar has played three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for India. He is one of the biggest names in Indian domestic cricket and has scored tons of runs for Mumbai. Nayar is also a handy bowler with his medium-pace. In the Indian Premier League (IPL), he has played for Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab and Pune Warriors India)