Sachin Tendulkar was the soul that inspired a generation of young people

We are lucky to be born in the Sachin Tendulkar Era © AFP

We know it’s always been country first for Sachin Tendulkar, yet his gesture of pointing to the Indian flag on reaching his 100th international hundred brought tears to my eyes.

I still can’t come to terms with the enormity of the impact of Sachin Tendulkar’s decision to bid farewell to One-Day Internationals (ODIs). It had to come some day, but never thought it would end in the way it did. One-day cricket has to grapple with an irreplaceable void. I wonder what will attract fans to the ground now when there will be no divine straight drives or effortless back-foot punches anymore. For me, ODIs are over.
That’s surprising, because my generation has grown up inspired by ODI cricket only. T20s arrived only recently. And Tendulkar was the soul of that inspiration. Everything from our stance, to the MRF sticker we pasted on the Rs 40 bat, to the follow through of our drive and the light-weight pads had his presence. As teenagers, we would watch in awe his strokes during that unbelievable 1998 season against the world’s best team and try to emulate the same in local gully matches. It was an inspiration watching him battle the Desert Storm in Sharjah, when he blitzed to 98 at Centurion or the manner in which he destroyed Dale Steyn and Company to score 200. Those memories are vivid because they bought a smile on the faces of his countrymen – young and old alike; an unadulterated smile that is becoming a rarity in our lives. 
We were lucky to be born in the Sachin Tendulkar Era. Lucky to have seen someone wield the willow as Sachin Tendulkar did. Lucky to have seen a sportsman as supremely talented Sachin Tendulkar is. Proud that the coming generation would only be able to read and hear a first-hand account from us of the man who was worshiped as God. I know they won’t believe us when we would tell our kids that life for people from all of walks of life – in a nation of a billion strong – stood still when Sachin Tendulkar took guard. 

I know the kids would dismiss some of our memories and say it’s impossible as cricket is just a game. But then, instead of arguing, we would know you had to be born in the Sachin Tendulkar Era to appreciate the fact that when the maestro was at the crease cricket, for the billions in India, was more than a game. The nation found solace while he was fighting those battles on the field, alone and mostly wounded, but never defeated.
My heart aches to think that we would not have those butterflies in the belly anymore when he steps out to open the innings, when he faces the first few balls, our hands clasped in silent prayer. It’s all over.

Thanks for the awesome memories, Sachin.
(Nipun Dixit is a Technology Analyst at Infosys, currently based in US. A Mechanical Engineer from Jaipur, Nipun is very passionate about cricket and music. He loves playing the acoustic guitar and writing songs. Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler are his favorites. He is a voracious reader across wide variety of subjects and writes occasionally on various subjects. Cricket, however, remains his first love)

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