Illustration by Prakash Dhole
Illustration by Prakash Dhole

 

By Dileep V

 

It would seem as if there as many Gods as we have people in India. A 50-plus religious person would not be surprised if he learnt about a new God for the first time in his life! That the country is secular by constitutional guarantee means people freely worship Gods according to their religious beliefs. However, one religion unites the entire nation: cricket. And there is just one God that binds people following this religion: Sachin Tendulkar.

 

Post the 1987 World Cup that took place in the Sub-continent, India was reeling under the effects of losing the battle to the English on home soil. The retirement of Sunil Gavaskar only heightened the calamitous feeling. It was clearly unhappy times for Indian cricket; the nation was looking to a celestial blessing.

 

It was at this time a voice was heard from the sky, “The Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure entertainment goodness, he will rescue Indian cricket. Lord Sachin— the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master of all things related to cricket and the Supreme Soul of all— takes birth to protect the principles of this great game and to relieve the game’s saintly devotees from the reactions of material work. (Cricket Purana, 24.4.73-74)

 

The following two decades, the Lord took several reincarnations to rescue and revive the fortunes of the Nation. The 10 best-known avatars of Sachin are collectively known as the Sachavatara. These avatars are chronicled in the years After the Birth of Sachin (ABS).

 

The first one is said to have appeared in the Eighties Yuga. The next five in Nineties Yuga and following three in the Noughties Yuga. The tenth one is predicted to appear at the start of the Twenty-tens Yuga.

 

1. Matsya (14 ABS – 17 ABS) – The fish, appeared in the Eighties Yuga. This avatar saved Indian cricket from the great deluge and bought fans back to the game. Like a fish, the Matsya swam through different streams like School, Ranji, Duleep and Irani seamlessly and triumphed by scoring heavily in all.

 

High points:

 

Creating the then World record of 664 runs partnership with Vinod Kambli in Harris Shield

 

Hammering of Pakistani asura Abdul Qadir for four sixes in an over.

 

2. Kurma (18 ABS – 20 ABS) – The tortoise, appeared at the start of the Nineties Yuga. The avatar helped the Indian team when it was Samudra leaping around the globe to battlefields of New Zealand, England, Australia and South Africa. Though India didn’t win the battle, the Lord made a name for himself while the oceans were churned along.

 

High Points:

 

The second youngest to score a century in Test cricket at the age of 17 against England at Manchester.

 

The youngest (18 years) to score a century on Australia soil at Sydney.

 

First overseas player for Yorkshire.

 

Becomes the only player in the world to score four hundreds in Tests before turning 20.

 

3. Varaha (20 ABS – 22 ABS) – The boar, appeared in the Nineties Yuga. This avatar is the stepping stone for his legendary status. He is appointed second to the commander- in-chief of the Indian cricket team. Varaha carried the Indian team out of the ocean through his performances and restored it to its place in the universe after a disappointing Battle of Nations Down Under.

 

High Points:

 

Bowls a tight last over against South Africa to take India to the final of the Hero Cup.

 

Opens the innings for the first time in an ODI against New Zealand at Auckland and scores a quick fire 82 – off just 49 balls.

 

Records his first ODI hundred against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

 

Receives the prestigious Arjuna Award for excellent achievement in cricket.

 

4. Narasimha (ABS 22 – ABS 23) – The Half-Man, Half-Lion, appeared in mid-Nineties yuga. Mark Mascarenhas WorldTel made him the Lion of International cricket by signing him for a whopping 30 crore contract for five years. The half man/half lion roared at the Battle of Nations by using the heavy bat as weapon and disemboweling the opposition.

 

High Points:

 

Youngest player to score a 2000 runs in both Test and ODIs.

 

Top scorer in the Wills World Cup with 523 runs in 7 matches, with 2 hundreds, 3 fifties at an average of 87.16.

 

5. Vamana (ABS 23 – ABS 25) – The dwarf-avatar, was where the Lord took control of the army. He lead the team admirably by winning his first series against Australia and a tri-nation battle which also involved South Africa. Though he lost only one series during his tenure, the Lord stepped down from the commandership to concentrate on wielding his bat.

 

High Points:

 

Wisden Cricketer of the Year for excellence in batting.

 

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award by the Indian government for his contributions to the game.

 

6. Parashurama (ABS 25 – ABS 27) – The sage with the axe who destroyed the champion army of Australia and created nightmares for Warne, the opposition wreaker in chief and King Waugh. The lord was so brutal that even a sand storm in the desert couldn’t deter him from slaying the enemy. He also met the legend of another generation the Don on his birthday. He also took over the army once again after the team failed to reach last four in Battle of Nations in England

 

High Points:

 

Breaks the record for highest number of hundreds in ODI’s

 

Padma Shri Award conferred by the Indian government

 

Registers his highest score of 186* against New Zealand, which was also the 4th highest Individual score at that time.

 

7. Rama (ABS 27 – ABS 29) – The selfless hero, is the first avatar in the Noughties Yuga. After a bitter experience the Lord renounced his throne once and for all. As a senior statesman he inspires the team to battle wins against South Africa, Australia, England and West Indies.

 

High Points:

 

Youngest and the only batsman to score 10000 runs in ODI’s at that time.

 

Surpasses Sir Don Bradman’s 29 Test centuries.

 

Plays his 100th Test in the Oval, England.

 

8. Krishna (ABS 30 – ABS 33) – the Supreme being, followed Rama in destroying all the evil powers opposing our nation. He played a huge role in the Battle of Nations in South Africa and helped the Indian team in reaching the finals. In this avatar the Lord scaled all the main records in Tests and ODIs.

 

High Points:

 

Adjudged Player of the Tournament in World Cup in South Africa.

 

Crosses 10,000 runs in Tests against Pakistan.

 

Becomes the only Indian and the third player in Test cricket history to score centuries against all Test playing nations.

 

Surpasses the record for most Test hundreds.

 

9. Buddha (ABS 34 – ABS 37) – The enlightener, was the last avatar in the Noughties yuga. After a disastrous Battle of Nations in West Indies, the people questioned the Lord’s commitment and his ability to fight for the nation. The Lord slowly and steadily made his way back into the hearts of the people culminating with the first double hundred in ODIs and ultimately enlightening the World.

 

High Points:

 

Surpasses 15,000 run mark in ODIs

 

Overtakes Lara as the leading run scorer in Test match history

 

Scores the first double hundred in ODI history.

 

Hits the much-awaited 50th Test century in South Africa.

 

10. Kalki (ABS 37 – ) – The eternity, is expected to appear at start of the Twenty-tens yuga and help India triumph in the Battle of Nations that will take place in the Sub-continent – the only jewel missing in the Lord’s collection.

 

(Dileep V is a Scouser fan, Sports freak, Movie buff, Laggard Quizzer and dreams of setting foot on Anfield one day)