'Sachin Tendulkar epitomised India’s surge in the new economic world order’

The writer feels that Indians are lucky that Sachin Tendulkar epitomised what the nation required to surge ahead in the new economic world order © Getty Images

By Sadanand Vishwanath

I first met Sachin Tendulkar in Secunderabad, when he was playing for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy against Hyderabad in 1989. During his innings, he played quite a few glorious inside-out shots over the covers off left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju. He showed that he could dominate any kind of bowling — be it spin, fast or swing. His greatness and potential was recognised at a very young age by legends such as Sunil Gavaskar. Sachin carried the hopes and aspirations of the Indian team as a youngster and he went on to create a batting legacy which may not be emulated.

Sachin played conventionally and in the ‘V’ in front of the wicket. Until he got his eye in, he played a lot straighter, but once he was set, the bowlers were at the receiving end. He had this uncanny ability to judge the line and length of the ball very early. He didn’t have much of an initial movement, but could play any shot in the book.

We are lucky that Sachin epitomised what India required to surge ahead in the new economic world order. All that happened in the 1990s, when there was a new wave and the middle-class had woken up. He symbolised all that with his feats on the cricket field and his exemplary demeanour. People will not only remember him for the way he batted, but also how he conducted himself off the field. A devout and religious background helped him stay on the right path and conquer all the mountains he had to climb. Even in tough times, he believed in himself and knew that he would make his bat do the talking.

I visited South Africa with the Karavalli Cricket Clinic in 1997, around the time when the Indian team were there for a tour. During the Cape Town Test, Anil Kumble had given me about 20 passes for the game. We watched the proceedings on a day when Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin smashed hundreds. Interestingly, I had given him Satya Sai Baba of Putaparthi’s vibhooti the previous day in the hotel. Sai Baba had personally given it to me and I feel fortunate to have them passed it on to Sachin.

Years later, in 2003, the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy was held in Bangalore and it featured my benefit match. There was a party at the Windsor Palace in Bangalore and Sachin came directly from the airport to grace the evening. He also had a chat with me and remembered our previous interactions. He has an elephantine memory. And for someone so successful, it is truly remarkable. Sachin performed well in the tournament and I also got a good amount through the benefit.

As Sachin retires, I wish him the very best for the future. There are players who can take over his mantle, but there will never be another Sachin Tendulkar. Brian Lara said he wants his son to play like Sachin. That is a perfect tribute to him, in my opinion.

—     As told to Nishad Pai Vaidya

(Sadanand Vishwanath is a former India wicket-keeper who played 3 Tests and 22 One-Day Internationals (ODIs). He was a part of the Indian team that lifted the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket in 1985. After retirement, Vishwanath has turned to umpiring and has been on the Indian circuit since 1995)

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