Sachin Tendulkar was like a guardian to us, says Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina (left) said it was Sachin Tendulkar who motivated him to play the game and dream to represent India. Raina was once the ball boy during an ODI match at Kanpur where Tendulkar was playing © Getty Images

By Suresh Raina

Sachin paaji has been an inspiration for youngsters like us. We have always been in awe of the man. He is all about dedication, discipline, determination, hard work and focus. And that is why we look up to him and admire him.

Despite achieving so much — be it fame, money or records —  he has been one of the most humble human beings that I have seen. It’s his quality to stay grounded and modest that sets him apart. Having achieved so much he has remained the same from day one.

He told us even if you achieve success you should not lose focus and determination. He also said that you should always be there for your family. You should respect them, especially mother and father. It is this aspect about him that inspired us.

I remember when I was in sports hostel in Kanpur, an One-Day International (ODI) was being played in the city. Sachin was having his knocking session a day before and I was the ball boy. I had goose bumps after meeting this great man. The way he practised was amazing. He was one of the people who motivated me to play the game and dream to play for India one day.

He made us realise that if you dream, you can make it real. Even though he has played for so long, he still has that childlike excitement on the field.

It is amazing that he has never taken things for granted. He would practice hours and hours. He would not miss even the optional practice sessions and would advise us about respecting the game and family. He was like a guardian to us.

I remember when I had scored a hundred on my Test debut against Sri Lanka in Colombo where Sachin paaji had hit a double hundred and we shared a 256-run partnership for the fifth wicket, he took me out for lunch. He told me you will have fans, money and fame, but the key will be to stay humble.

After winning the 2011 World Cup, he got so emotional. It was a fitting reward for a person like him. He always wanted to win the World Cup for India. Once we won, we could see tears in his eyes. I, Yusuf [Pathan] and Virat [Kohli] lifted him on our shoulders, he was a bit apprehensive, but we said you deserve it and took him for a lap of the Wankhede Stadium.

In 2007, I was honoured when the Wisden website had called me the next ‘Tendulkar’. It was something that I will cherish.

Apart from cricket, Sachin has a great taste for music. We would listen to Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi together. He once took us to F1 and was really fun to be with.

We will definitely miss him in the dressing room.

— As told to Taus Rizvi

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(Suresh Raina is Sachin Tendulkar’s India teammate who has played 180 ODIs and 17 Tests so far. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)