Salaam Sachin conclave live updates: Sachin is the greatest, says Brian Lara

Greatest of the games discuss about Sachin Tendulkar… (From left) Brian Lara, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Ramiz Raja and Gautam Gambhir. Photo Courtesy: Sudatta Mukherjee

Nov 12, 2013

So, that concludes CricketCountry’s coverage of ‘Salaam Sachin.’ It has been a great day with a host of international stars. But, the word that would stand out came from Brian Lara, when he said, “The Greatest.” That sums it up. Do join us for the second Test between India and West Indies at Mumbai starting November 14.

“I have to convince Farah Khan to give us a leave on one day to watch Sachin Tendulkar during the 200th Test. Sachin himself is the century. I truly have lot of love and respect for him. He has been one of my favourite sportspersons. To see him walk for the last time, will be a moment to cherish,” said Abhishek Bachchan.

Abhishek Bachchan is now here at ‘Salaam Mumbai’. He had organised a screening for the movie Aks for him. Abhishek says, “He has been a good friend of Aishwarya as they were neighbours. I have come to know him after marriage.”

Speaking about his father Amitabh and Tendulkar, Abhishek says, “Both will choose each other if they are asked to choose. In films, my father is there. In out world, if there is any sportsman, I firmly believe Sachin is the world’s greatest sportsperson. I am sure no one would duplicate that. For me they are standards for the best.”

Describing Tendulkar in one words, Gambhir said, “Genius.”

Azahruddin said, “Humble.”

Akhtar said, “Nightmare.”

And Lara said, “The Greatest.”

Is Sachin Tendulkar the greatest? Brian Lara says, “He has scripted the greatest career ever.”

Shoaib AKhtar says, “He is there with the five greatest. Rohit Sharma may come sometime, I hope.”

Miohammad Azharuddin, “I have a lot of favourite players. I would say Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.”

Rameez Raja, “I would rate him with Viv and Brian Lara.”

Gautam Gambhir says, “Brian and he are the greatest ever I have seen.”

Shoaib Akhtar talks about the run-out at Kolkata, “I didn’t do anything. his bat was between my legs. I was watching the throw coming in and it hit the stumps.”

Mohammad Azharuddin says, “It’s not a thing you bring again and again. We liked playing against Pakistan.” Rameez Raja said, “Spoken like a true politician.”

Shoaib Akhtar said, “Every team worked on the ball.” Lara said, “If you had seven wickets in hand and 60 runs to win and Waqar had five and Wasim had five, you would switch off the television.”

Rameez said, “Kapil raved about Sachin when they came to Pakistan in 1989. We took notice. When he came, we felt how good could this 16-year-old be! But, he gave a good account of his talent. We ddin’t sledge him he was a kid. But, I don’t know about Javed [Miandad], but you can never tell about him.”

“I thought I will bowl one wide and that he would pull me. But he cut me. Then I bowled on the leg, he flicked me. Then I bowled in the blockhole, he punched me straight. I told the captain, let me go,” says Shoaib Akhtar about Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 against Pakistan at Centurion during the 2003 World Cup.

Brian Lara says, “I was willing to play the best teams in the world and perform. Same approach Sachin had. He would also want to go everywhere around the world and do well. That is what makes him great. It is awesome that someone can play so many matches. Now he is approaching his 200th Tests. He needed a few matches to get to that 100th ton, but Sachin should be proud of it. To do that at the highest level, is something great. I am proud to play in the same era and to be compared to him is an honour.”

Mohammad Azharuddin says, “Perth hundred was one of the finest innings I had seen. After the New Zealand tour, he was sad that he did not get a century. Had he got it, he could have been the youngest Test centurion. When you play the best bowlers, you want to excel. You want to show you are better than them.”

Rameez Raja says, “I was happy to watch Lara play against Muralitharan in 2001. It was his artistry that made me happy.”

Lara says, “Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Garfield Sobers raised the bar. They are two respected individuals and Sachin is up there with them. At the end of the day, we need to have great respect for those who have played.”

Rameez says, “This was Viv vs Imran Khan. This was in 1988 and Javed was captain. Imran was at his prime. Pakistan had this little team meeting and Imran was tying his shoelaces. Miandad said, “Immy, bowl a few bouncers at Richards when he comes.” Imran replied, “Are you mad? He will hit me for six.”

Gautam Gambhir says, “Playing all three formats is a challenge. He got a hundred in T20 cricket and that came when he had achieved a lot.” Shoaib Akhtar says, “What makes Sachin great, with no disrespect to any era, I honestly believe that the post-1985 era was most difficult for batsmen. He handled great swing, then the likes of Shane Warne and Saqlain Mushtaq. South Africa had guys who bowled 145-plus. Our guys bowled at a great pace and Australia had a different bowling. The way he has scored against all types of bowling in different conditions is what makes him great. Cricket peaked in early 90s. That is what makes him great, the ability to score runs against any attack, on any surface in any part of the world.”

Azharuddin talks about the Hero Cup semi-final, “The last over South Africa had to get six runs. We started talking. Kumble had finished the overs, Kapil and Prabhakar had one each left. We started talking and everybody felt a different kind of bowler should bowl. Suddenly, we felt he could do it. He said, “Azzhu, let me bowl this over.” I felt we could lose even of the first two balls. But, as luck would have it, he did it.”

Gambhir talks about the 2011 World Cup final, “Obviously winning the World Cup was a big achievement. When you were zero for one and then you lost Sachin early. So, we felt we could still do it. There were great scenes then. The team could give it to Sachin, because that was the only thing missing.”

The ‘Salaam Sachin’ conclave moves towards the session, ‘Is Sachin greater than Bradman?” Gautam Gambhir, Shoaib Akhtar, Rameez Raja, Mohammad Azharudin and Brian Lara are the panelists.

Gambhir says, “No one (here) has seen Bradman. But, Sachin has played for 24 years.” Akhtar says about sledging Sachin, “I never sledged Sachin. Reason is because there are few players I respected and one is to my right (Lara). I never sledged him and he never sledged me back. We only fought with the bat and ball. It was an honour to bowl to him. Fortunately, I did not play enough against him. he would have ripped through my tactics easily. He was the most difficult batsman I bowled to. He could hook or pull me and wasn’t afraid of my short bowling. We tried it in one Test, but it did not work as he scored a ton. He is one of the greatest and one of the nicest human being I have known.”

Rameez says, “Pressure has been there as expectations have been huge. In a way it has been good for him as if you are a genius, you need people to follow you. It occured to me while reading about Bradman’s era that an incoming delivery would not get you out leg-before. Sachin has never looked out of touch Test, 50-over cricket or 20-over cricket. I have enjoyed the way he has managed to stay in touch with the pace of the game. When Don played, there were six good bowlers. But, Sachin has faced a lot of greats.”

Brian Lara says, “Sachin Tendulkar has just scripted the greatest cricket career the world has ever seen.”

Azharuddin says, “It has been a great pleasure to captain Sachin for nine years. I don’t need to talk about his cricketing ability. At a young age, he was only interested in playing the game. During the Pakistan tour in 1989, we watched him take a bat at 2 or 3 at night with a bat in hand. That was his commitment at that age. His inputs were always useful.”

“Sachin Tendulkar is the messenger from God,” says Bishan Singh Bedi. Kiran More reveals that Tendulkar once found a fault in the helmet by making measurements.

Kiran More said, “We used to go to Sharjah and we used to always lose against Pakistan and return. We started winning in Sharjah after Tendulkar came and the spirit of winning came, the belief came in the dressing room. I remember how Tendulkar slammed Abdul Qadir. We actually went to buy shoes in Peshwar and as we were approaching the stadium we heard loud cheering and we entered the stadium and saw him play those clean shots. After the Qadir assault, Imran Khan was scared of Tendulkar.”

Dilip Vengsarkar said, “Every captain is as good as the team and he didn’t get a good team. But I thought the selection didn’t give a good team.

More said, “He expected others to do what he did when he was captain. When I asked him if he wanted to be captain when I was selector, he said “no”.

Vengsarkar says “Sachin can guide and help others. I have seen him at the BKC nets where he talks to under-14 and under-15 boys about his experiences.”

“I think it is going to be a big vaccum and it will not be filled easily. But, if he wants to go to the dressing room anytime, he would be welcomed. I wish he keeps in touch with Indian cricket,” Bishan Singh Bedi said.

“All teammates call him Sachin paaji. He is Sachin Singh Tendulkar,” Bedi remarked. More said, “MS Dhoni told me that when he entered the team, he kept a close eye on Sachin. he has picked up a lot from him, Rahul and others.”

Dilip Vengsarkar talks about Ajit Tendulkar’s influence on Sachin. During the tour to New Zealand, Ajit used to cal Sachin every morning, as Vengsarkar narrates. Bishan Singh Bedi says “There is no sacrifice in anybody’s life who is aiming for excellence. Sachin too has not had to sacrifice. We were practicing in Dunedin. I kept an optional session for practice as the wicket was bad. A squeeky voice came from Sachin, “Sir, I will bat.” You know what he did. The wicket at the centre was bad, so he went to the side at the nets. He asked, “Can I put my stumps here?” He then batted for 45 minutes.”

Kiran More says, “On the Pakistan tour, he got Ajit Bhai with him. On the New Zealand tour he got his books. We had a good partnership at Napier and I wish he would have got his ton. Sachin played against Richard Hadlee then.”

Dilip Vengsarkar, Bishan Singh Bedi and Kiran More are the next on stage at ‘Salaam Sachin.’ Vengsarkar says, “Actually, I had heard about him from our coach Vasu Paranjpe. He had seen him play for CCI when he hit Pradeep Sunderam for six. Vasu said you must see him. On Vasu’s insistence, I went to watch him bat during the Harris Shield final.”

He continued, “Someone told me, “He will now bowl 40 overs. He scored a triple and would then bowl with new and old ball. I then took Sachin at the Indian nets and he looked very comfortable. Same evening we had to pick a team for Bombay.”

Bishan Singh Bedi asks, “Why are we greedy for one more Sachin? I am honoured to breathe the same air as him.”

More says, “When I worked with Mumbai Indians, I saw him coming for practice when I would train with the wicket-keepers at 1 PM. He would go on till 7 PM. I asked him, so he said he wasn’t getting his bat down well. There was no change in the boy who I toured with in 1989.”

Tendulkar’s helmet comes from More’s factory. He says, “Whenever he got hit, we were scared as it was a product after all. We felt, our factory would be shut if something happens to him. But, he gave strength to the helmet.”

Sachin had to be a true leader to play for 24 years says Brian Lara. He has inspired the generation of players, Lara says and that nobody has bad things to say about him.

Brian Lara is speaking about Sachin Tendulkar at India Today Group’s ‘Salaam Sachin’. Speaking about Tendulkar’s captaincy, Lara said, “Sometimes the best player in the team being captain doesn’t work. There can be a chance of envy or anything. I don’t know why he failed. But, in my team it was difficult to gel and after a loss a lot of fingers would point in your direction.”

“No comparison. Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. They know me in Trinidad. The toughest moment was taking or picking my daughter in school. My daughter would sit in the car crying as I would sign autographs. When the Indians come to Trinidad, they know where to find me. But, to have 1.3 billion people follow is something I can’t imagine,” says Lara when asked about their following.

When Gavaskar asked whether Lara has any political ambitions, he said, “None at all. Politics is not for me.”

Brian Lara reflects on the time he batted with Sachin Tendulkar and some of his favourite innings. He said that the 241 not out at Sydney is one Tendulkar innings he would remember. Lara said, “Sachin had so much discipline during that innings and went to get 241 not out. That was something out of the world. The greatest player was curbing himself for the cause of his team.”

“Sachin has been the flag-bearer of world cricket. He has stood out because of his dedication and has seen the way,” says Lara.

“I want to see a Sachin hundred and a West Indian victory,” says Lara about the Mumbai Test.

“If I had a son, and he would watch me bat on YouTube, I would take it off and ask him to watch Sachin bat. One of the best techniques I have seen against all types of bowling. His balance, his footwork and the way his head was over the ball, any young player should follow,” says Lara.

“He does have a funny side. We have spent time at each others homes. Sometimes, things need to be kept indoors,” says Lara.

Brian Lara speaks about the first time he met Sachin Tendulkar and has said that the Indian is the greatest batsman he has seen. He said, “He [Sachin Tendulkar] was only 17 when we met first time. We were both young in our respective teams. That strengthened our relationship. We were trying to establish ourselves at the highest level. That made our friendship easy. Lot of people tried to compare me and Sachin, but it is unfair. We have to watch them individually. We have laughed at it so many times, and we knew how dangerous both were, when we came up against each other. “

When Lara was asked about the pressure Tendulkar and he have faced, he said, “I wasn’t ready for that kind of hero worship when 375 happened. You have to get accustomed to it and get used to it. You are an entertainer and shying away from them is not something you want to do. Both of us embraced pressure. At the end of the day, you have to be as calm as possible.”

Speaking about Tendulkar’s son, Lara said, “Arjun is a nice little batsman. He isn’t a Sachin Tendulkar in terms of technique as T20 has taken over. He wants to hit everything out of the park.”

“One occasion I enjoyed the most is when India had to chase 120 at Barbados to win a Test in 1997. With Sachin in the dressing room, we were worried. We tried to make him play the wristy shots and blocked mid-on. I took a catch as he tried to work through third-man,” says Lara about the 1997 Barbados Test match when India failed to chase 120.

Sunil Gavaskar recalls his retirement. He says he would have retired a year earlier, but then Imran Khan said that Pakistan would be touring India and beating the hosts on their own turf wouldn’t be the same without Gavaskar.

“It is depressing. It is like you feel worthless in the dressing room. If those runs havent helped win the game, but the joy is not there. There may be some satisfaction for getting runs, but the euphoria you feel of being in the winning side is incredible,” says Gavaskar when asked about tons coming in losing causes.

When asked about Tendulkar’s biggest regrets of his life, Gavaskar said, “The times that he scored runs and India lost and the times he didn’t score and India lost. Those are the things he would regret most.”

“I would say Sachin Tendulkar is Sachin Tendulkar. Better of to say he is Sachin Tendulkar. To say he is a mixture of some players is not fair to Sachin,” says Gavaskar.

Sunil Gavaskar says, “I had given him 34 champagne bottles after his 34th Test ton. We decided we will open the 35th together. But, Indian team’s schedule is such that we couldn’t do it. Now, we may do it. We had a crab eating contest in Colombo and he beat me by a huge margin.”

Gavaskar says, “Sachin may feel the pressure. Somebody in the family should help. The biggest pressure is whether this person has got tickets or the other has or not.”

When asked about the short players becoming great batsmen, Gavaskar said, “In 1971, when I went to Australia with the Rest of the World XI. At one of the venues, Sir Don Bradman had come to receive the team. He was looking for me and he was generally talking to me about India as he hadn’t been here. Sir Garfield Sobers says “Ahh you little fellas are together.” Sir Don then said, “These big guys may have the power, but we have the footwork.”

“We played against each other during a Single Wicket competiton. I can claim that I got him out. He didn’t get me out,” says Gavaskar.

Sunil Gavaskar says that Sachin Tendulkar could have been a great in any era. He also said that the first time he saw Tendulkar prepare when he was a consultant with the Indian team.

When Sahitya Sahwas, where Tendulkar lived, was given a send-off before the England tour in 1990, Gavaskar was present. He said, “I knew the similarities between Bradman and Tendulkar. I said, they had the same kind of voice.”

When asked about Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Tendulkar, Gavaskar said, “They have all been remarkable players.”

A humorous Gavaskar also said, “When you play the fastest bowlers in the world, you don’t think of legacy but survival. I would bat without a helmet because I had nothing inside to protect.”

Speaking about changing styles, Gavaskar said, “During the last seven years of my career, I wasn’t as consistent. I was playing more shots then as I had the likes of Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil Dev behind me.”

“Don Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sachin Tendulkar are born to play cricket”, says Sunil Gavaskar at India Today Group’s ‘Salaam Sachin’.

Gavaskar says, “The first time I watched Sachin bat was during his Ranji Trophy debut in 1988. He scored a ton against Gujarat.”

“The Bombay School of cricket toughens you up. Take the example of the Kanga League. You learn how to use your hands on tough pitches,” says Gavaskar.

When asked whether Tendulkar should have toured West Indies in 1989, Gavaskar said, “These are ifs and buts of cricket. You never know what could have happened.”
Gavaskar says, “I would remember his first Test ton at Manchester, when he saved the Test math. I remember his ton at Perth, where he batted well on a tough pitch. Then the ton at Chennai, when Viru (Virender Sehwag) gave a good start and Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) and Sachin finished it. His balance on and off the field has been remarkable. Despite all the pressure and burden of expectations, he has managed to maintain his balance off the field as well. That helps one on the field also.”

Gavaskar also said that Tendulkar’s retirement decision did not surprise him as that was to come at some point.

“I met Sachin Tendulkar properly when I became the manager of the team on tour to England. There was request from Tendulkar that he wants to spend the time with his family and join the team mid-way while the bus heads towards the airport. Likewise, the bus stopped and he got in the bus and there was a music system with him. He came and sat down next to me and that is how we became close. Tendulkar doesn’t like to talk much, be on call, he likes to concentrate on his work totally. The juniors respects him a lot,” says Rajeev Shukla, BCCI vice-president.
Speaking about retirement discussions with Tendulkar, Rajiv Shukla said, “Tendulkar said if retirement has to happen, it will happen. Tendulkar wanted 200 tickets during tour to South Africa. But before that West Indies tour was announced. And then suddenly one day he said I want to hang my boots. ‘The decision of retirement would happen suddenly to me’, Sachin used to say always.
“The decision of nominating him to the Rajya Sabha, it was Sonia Gandhi’s idea of nominating him. So when he was in Dhaka, I called him one day and told Tendulkar that the party head wants him to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Tendulkar said he will speak to his family and let them know. Usually when Sachin doesn’t want something he says no outright. However, we were hopeful and next day he called up and said his family was adverse. He wanted to know how to go about it,”
Speaking about Ganguly’s T-shirt incident at Lord’s, “Ganguly wanted everyone to do that but Sachin told don’t do this because it is a gentleman’s game.”
“Ganguly came and told me that John Wright slapped Virender Sehwag and he was crying. So I went and so Sehwag was crying and he said he got out so he slapped me. So I wanted Wright to apologise. So I went and asked Wright to apologise. So Wright said, ‘I treat him like my child and I have always asked him not to play like this. But he threw away his wicket.’ But Sehwag wanted a apology. That time Sachin came and took my aside and said don’t make Wright apologise Sehwag because it will be bad to see the coach apologise to a student. I went ahead and told Wright won’t apologise and told Sehwag aside that he will apologise to you personally,” recollected Rajeev Shukla.
Speaking on Tendulkar’s role as a MP of Rajya Sabha, Shukla said, “He is a shy person in the Parliament. He has to speak. He is yet to get into the habit of coming to the Parliament.

Also clearing the air about joining any political party and campaigning about any political party, Shukla said, “There are few things his father never wanted to him to do certain things. Drink, smoke and join politics. So let me clear this for the last time, he won’t join any political party and campaign for any.”

“Sachin Tendulkar has achieved the sky but his feet are firmly on the ground. He is a man of value, humility,” said Sunil Bhalla, Co-Founder & Director, LAVA Mobiles.
Jatin Ahluwalia, Founder & CEO, Seven3Rockers Technologies, said, “Sachn’s Facebook page is the fastest growing across all categories and even bigger than the Indian cricket team’s page. Even compared to some of the Bollywood stars, his Facebook page the biggest.”
Hamilton Bland, Managing Director, Autographs of the World, said, “For my money, Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 centuries will be ever achieved again. What stands Tendulkar out from other sportsperson is the way he has inspired the entire nation.
“Sachin came in a time when sports got commercialised and this is something that all the cricketers and sportspersons will benefit,” said Vinod Naidu, General Manager, World Sport Group.
“Sachin is very fond of art and he is very curious about which artist is doing and he has gone into the intricacies of the art, which many people don’t know,” said Sunil Bhalla.
“As manager or brands we know the inevitability. We always thoughts ahead what will we do after his retirement. We over the past few years, we have built a private level. We have been able to create a lot of content. Sachin is very much into philanthropy and may be something that is what we are going to be involved into. The next few years are going to be very busy,” says Vinod Naidu.
Sachin Tendulkar could be one of the largest collector of arts , said Sunil Bhalla.
When Vinod Naidu is asked why Sachin never did a liquor advertisement, he replies, “One because his father never liked and asked him to do and the second because there will be kids watching it.”

Boria Majumdar says Anjali Tendulkar said, “Sachin asked me, “Should I continue to train after retirement?” I said you must continue as that is your life.” What an anecdote on Tendulkar. One can say that such sportsmen are a different breed.

Sushil Kumar says, “Rohtak is known in the world because of Lahli. Sachin should be sports minister because he knows what it is to be one. In Haryana, there is a lot of support for sportsmen. As a kid, by dream was to meet and it was fulfilled when I met him. Wrestlers like Sachin quite a lot. When I told my peers that I am going to a program for Sachin, everyone were happy.”

“When I went to London for the Olympics, I was carrying the flag. I had told the media that I am honoured. I was told by the media that whenever anyone has done that, they haven’t won the medal. I knew I had prepared in a way that I could get there. Sachin also has the same quality and does not take pressure on him. I don’t watch cricket a lot, but I always watch when Virender Sehwag and Sachin bat,” says Sushil.

Sushil Kumar and Sania Mirza are on stage and they are talking about Sachin Tendulkar. Boria Majumdar recalls a conversation between Sushil and Tendulkar on the phone.  Throughout the conversation, Sushil was saying. “Yes sir. Thank you sir.”

“The day I won the medal was a big dream come true for him. Plus, I also got a chance to speak to Sachin. I was so happy that I couldn’t talk a lot to him. He then called me and also wished me a lot. After the Beijing Olympics, I met him and I touched his feet. He said that, “You also play for the country and do very well.”

Sania recalls the the day Tendulkar had presented a Fiat car to her after she won the Wimbledon Junior title. She says, “As athletes we grow up under pressure here. One success can get you a lot of adulation, and then a defeat brings you down. But, Sachin has handled it beautifully. There is so much scrutiny. There was a time when there was a headline that said, “Endulkar”, but he bounced back in the next match and scored the ton.”

Sushil says, “Everyone who likes Sachin follows him. Any sportsman can learn a lot for him. That is one thing I like a lot. I learn to work like him and play for the country.”

Sportsmen also have to control their diet and Sushil says that after intense preparation and a tough tournament, one craves for food.

Sania says, “It is tough to a celebrity. Sachin has faced only one controversy in 24 years and that is amazing. I hope others can also do the same. I hope he sets an example not only for athletes, but also the media. He is an ideal ambassador. May be he was not into partying or hid it better. He has a great family and kids. The fact that he kept performing regardless of what went around him is great. In the last 12 years, he has demanded that respect, which most athletes should.”

Sushil, “People follow Sachin. During a match, people would watch in the akhada also. Everyone who plays sport wants to be like him and be known by him. He should be the Sports Minister. He knows what goes into the making of a sportsman.”

Majumdar also narates a story where people were cheering for Tendulkar at Centre Court at Wimbledon when Roger Federer was playing.  Sania says, “We should let Sachin chill for a year. Let him relax a little bit and let him decide what he want to do. We should let him be pressure-free for six months.”

Waqar Younis replies to Gulshan Grover’s question on retirement in sport, “There comes an end. The age factor comes into question. Veteran cricket is on, but it doesn’t have so much room as there is so much cricket being played. As Shoaib said, all the Indian legends could be used for the game.”

Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis continue to talk about Sachin Tendulkar. Waqar says, “It is unfair to rank players. Of course as captain you may pick Sachin. With him it is that once he gets going, he would score big.”

Akhtar jokes, “There was one thing common between me and Sachin. We had the same bat weight and stance. The only difference I would tell him that it is 13,000 runs.”
“His class is right up there, is simply the best. I pick his 119 at Manchester as he took control of the game and remember that he wasn’t wearing the visor. ” says Akhtar.

Waqar says, “We started together, but it is ten years since I retired. Now, it is time for me to retire from commentary, but he is still playing.”

Akhtar says, “Allah has not only blessed him as a cricketer. But, he is also a good cricketer. Allah has given him so much money, wish he gave me half. In 2007, I spent some time with him. He liked Pakistani food. After a party at Lucknow, we were walking back with a few players. I said, “Sachin. I’ll pick you.” I lifted him and he fell. I said, “If anything happens to you, I will not leave this country alive. He is so humble and that is why he is there.”

Akhtar saiys, “Indian cricket needs Sachin after retirement. Don’t let go of him. He can mentor the youngsters. India will never let him forget his past. He will have to get out of it, so that he can move on with the future. When a cricketer leaves the sport, he doesn’t know where he stands. he stands in wilderness, not knowing what to do. You don’t pressure or you don’t have to go for training. I am sure, he will come out of this and will move on. There are big avenues open for him. Cricket should utilise him.”

Anchor asks how much time of the Pakistan meeting used to be about Tendulkar. Akhtar says, “Our [Pakistan] team meeting used to all about Tendulkar!”

Speaking about the opening stand between Virender Sehwag-Sachin Tendulkar, “Bohot zalim kisam ka opening stand.”
Speaking about Rahul Dravid, Akhtar said, “Bohot satata tha. Bohot thak jate the hum.”

I put Sachin right at the top. He has scored runs everywhere. He is right up there, says Waqar Younis.
“When I came to India in 1999, I didn’t know much about Sachin. I didn’t feel I could play, but got a chance at Kolkata. When Sachin came to bat, I didn’t know he was a big star. I felt he was coming out a bit casually. I bowled [Rahul] Dravid. Once I got him, I felt I could get Sachin. I then planned a swinging Yorker. If he stays, he would get us, Wasim bhai told me. Once I gt him out, I was stunned at how the people reacted. I realised, Sachin is not a batsman, he is an institution.”
“I never said he was scared of me. I said, his elbow was not okay. And we targeted him with the short-stuff. I maintained that he couldn’t do much alone. I never said Sachin is not a match-winner. It was an honour, pleasure and a bit of fear that I felt I should get him out quickly.
“I believe scoring scores in the era of 85 to 2000s, he should get a huge credit. He is a great player,” said Akhtar.
The anchor recalls once Shahid Afridi called the Tendulkar in the airport and said, “Paaji come forward.” Yuvraj Singh was with Tendulkar. Yuvraj asked Afridi that sometimes the latter could do the same with him. Afridi replied,” You become half the cricketer he is, I will empty the airport.”
Javagal Srinath recalls the heartbreak of the 1996 World Cup. He speaks of the atmosphere in the dressing room after the defeat to Sri Lanka in 1996. He says, “I remember a few players were crying and even I tried to. I put my towel on my face and couldn’t cry. Then I looked at Sachin and he too wasn’t crying. So I told him, “I am not crying and nor are you.” He said, “Why should we? We played with conviction and lost it.” That helped all us.”

Srinath says, “Sachin never threw his bat around or boasted about his tons. He scored so many tons, he may have been bored actually. So, his celebrations were subdued.”

Raina recalls the victory of 2011 World Cup, “When there was a problem at the toss, Sachin paaji said, “It’s ok. let us play.” It was an emotional moment as he had his family on the field. He also called Sudhir Kumar. That showed how much he respects the fans. When I was a youngster for Air India, I met him first time and his presence motivated us.”

Tendulkar loves playing table tennis and doesn’t like to lose. Both Srinath and Raina say that he would make you listen to his favourite song. Srinath says, “I would say it is a good song, despite being bored.”

Raina says, “He would come to the ground first and bowl seam-ups. He would play football or anything to warm-up. I don’t think he gets tired scoring runs. He always said, “Be disciplined and honest to yourself.” He would take all the burden on himself.”

Srinath says, “I had to ask Sachin for the ball (against South Africa at Ahmedabad in 1996). One good thing was that, he never said no to me. He may say, “wait two minutes.” On Indian spinning tracks, I was only a symbolic fast-bowler.” When he was captain, we couldn’t emulate his talent be it batting or bowling. Like, after a knock, he would pick-up the ball and bowl according to the conditions. If it was a green track, he would take new ball and bowl seam-ups. On turning tracks, it would be leg or off-spin. During his practice, you would never see him whiling away time. I have never seen any cricketer so committed to three hours of practice. Even optional practice and not miss. He was demanding as a captain in 1996. He would stand at slip and say, “Bowl outside off.” I would say I can’t but he would then do it in the nets and ask me why I can’t. The next time he became captain, he was a lot better as he realised the abilities of his players.”

Raina says, “We would not be scared of Sachin, but respected his mindset. He would play his songs and he would also have fun with the youngsters. In Delhi, he organised a Michael Jackson documentary screening for us. He could talk about formula one or anything. When Virat and I bought cars, he asked us to take it to the Formula One track to test them.”

Shoaib Akhtar asks Raina, “When we [Pakistan team] planned in the dressing room, he would be our focus. What did he say about me? Where would he hit me?”  Raina says, “Not really. He would keep it simple and focus on a few areas.”

“I don’t know how he will fill that void. Getting up in the morning and not having to play would be tough,” Srinath says.

Javagal Srinath and Suresh Raina will now share their experiences with Sachin Tendulkar. Srinath talks about Tendulkar after the 1991-92 Australia tour, “The first time I met Sachin was when Karnataka played Mumbai in the Wills Trophy 1989. We knew he was a cut above the rest. later we went together to Australia. The ton that stands out is the ton at Perth. There was a big crack on the wicket and scored that ton against a good attack. That innings stand out I think. Then I can remember the World Cup, where he did well. He was a changed player after the ton at Perth.”

Raina says, “I congratulate Ajit sir for all the hard-work. Sachin is the most dedicated cricketer I have seen. He motivates the youngsters also. Before the hundredth ton, we knew a big knock was coming.”

Srinath says, “Sachin had a sense of humour, although I have seen him more serious. He is such a big figure that even his not-so good jokes also got laughs.”

Raina remembers, “He loves his songs and would listen to a particular Kishore Kumar song. His favourite song is “Lehron ke tarah.”

Bowlers certainly have to work hard against him at the nets. Srinath says, “Sachin and Rahul (Dravid) are such guys who set high standards wherever they go, whether the nets or in a match. If you bowled well to them at the nets before a game was a challenge and if you did well, it helped. We would try our best while bowling in the nets. Anything off-line, he would punish. Then we would have our own competitions where he would set targets. It was a great pleasure to bowl to him at the nets.”

Srinath recalls, “Sachin asking me to bat at No 3 was something. He came at 1996, he said, “Sri number three pe aaja,. Jo bhi karde maarde. I got a chance to bat with him at the centre a few times. The way he reads the bowlers is too good. What makes him stand-out is that he is able to get it right more often than not. Of course bowlers would have more plans for him than me. He would tell me what a bowler would do and 90 per-cent of the times, he was right. When he got it right, I would look at him and say, “what was it?” He would say, “Tu khel. Then once I was backing away when I faced Allan Donald. Sachin told me he did not like it. The next match I scored and took a few blows. Sachin would never compliment you easily. That helped us raise the bar.”

Tendulkar was at the other end when Raina got his first Test ton. Raina says, “I told him I am a little nervous. So he told me that play the first 15 balls, then you will feel fine. Throughout the innings, he guided me and I got a ton. The next day, he took me to lunch and I had never had Japanese food. The next day, he asked me, “Is your stomach fine?” I said, “Yes Paaji it is.”

Ajit Tendulkar remembers the time they lost their father, “If father would have come back to life for even five minutes, he would have told Sachin to go and play the 1999 World Cup. Our father had suffered a heart-attack in May when Indian team was in Sri Lanka. At night, I told our father that Sachin will bat tomorrow and I will not tell him that you are not fine. Then I went back to our father and told him that Sachin got a ton and he was thrilled. We all felt he should go and play for India at the World Cup.”

Ajit reflects on the 1999 ton against Pakistan at Chennai, “I think, Sachin would have won the game for India. I am not saying it was an important innings, but my favourite innings. When he came from the New Zealand tour, and I spoke to him. He said he was really tired and may not play against Pakistan. I was disheartened as he had a chance to play against Wasim and Waqar. In the first innings at Chennai, he was out for zero. The match reached an interesting stage on Day Four and he was batting on 20-odd. The wicket was tough and he went out to bat when India were six for two. I felt he had to help India win and perform for himself. That was a test of his nerve and skill.”

What would happen on November 18, 2013? Ajit says, “We did not have to do much for Sachin as he was disciplined from Day One. He was talented and also performed well. So, we did not have to do anything special and only see what he required from us. On the afternoon of November 18, it would be a different feeling. All of us in the family, we dream about his cricket, one we have shared. That will end, but it is finishing on a happy note. Most of his dreams have come true. I believe he has fulfilled the dreams of the Indian fans.”

Ajit says, “I will certainly watch this time. This is the last time and last opportunity for me to watch my brother. All our family members would be there.” When asked about arguments, Ajit says, “Other than cricket, we do not talk anything else too much. Credit to Sachin as he heard me. He has faced toughest bowlers in difficult conditions. I watched on television and gave him suggestions. He took them in his stride. Not having gone to the ground and experienced, may be wrong on my part.”  

Ajit Tendulkar recalls the time when he took Sachin to his coach Ramakant Achrekar for the first time. Ajit said, “He says that he saw that Sachin could hit the ball well as a child and took him to Achrekar. The first day he did not have the proper clothing, so Achrekar asked him to get the whites. The first day he was made to take a few catches and I was surprised to see him to do well. Once the kit was got, Achrekar sir picked the No 4 spot for him in the line-up.”

Sachin was then moved from New English School to Sharadashram for his cricket. Sachin became a millionaire, Ajit said, “For me he was a millionaire only when he got hundreds. He wasn’t one if he did not score. There was a charm in travelling in auto after he scored runs. But, if he went in a Ferrari after not scoring, it wasn’t all that good. At home, we spoke about his runs and not his money. After all these records, I can say, he is a millionaire forever.”

Ajit recalls the time Sachin travelled in an auto, “I was in his BMW and there was a lot of luggage. As we drove, he said that there is something wrong in the car and we saw the tyre punctured. We parked the car, but we did not have the security guard with us. It was early morning, so there wasn’t enough rush. We couldn’t ask for another car as he had to go to the airport. I called for an auto and taxi and the drivers couldn’t believe when they saw. We put the luggage and Sachin was in taxi. Once we reached the airport, everyone were surprised to see him in an auto. It was quite funny.”

Ajit says, “After his Sharjah innings, my friend called and said, “My mother watched the match and cried as Sachin was batting so beautifully.” That is the best compliment he got from non cricketing circles.”

Ajit Tendulkar, Sachin’s elder brother is on stage to speak on the maestro. Ajit has rarely spoken to the media all these years. He has sacrificed a lot for his brother and today, he is a proud man. Ajit is frail and sports long hair.

He says, “When he won’t wear the India cap from the November 18, it will be a big change for him. He has been wearing it with pride for 24 years. Throughout his career, they expected him to score and he was under tremendous pressure. But, it was that India cap that he cherished and kept him going. That is not going to happen. There won’t be the bowlers to face, or those work-outs. Perhaps he can eat as much butter chicken as he wants.”

The whole Tendulkar family would watch Tendulkar bat during the Mumbai Test. Ajit says, “Our mother will watch him live for the first time. It is big moment for Sachin as it is his 200th and final Test. All of us are looking forward to go and see him live. Lot of our friends would laugh at us as we stayed away all these years. We didn’t mind, but all of us are looking forward to go and watch him one last time at the Wankhede.”

When asked about why the Tendulkar family didn’t watch him live, Ajit said, “There were no doubts about his talent. He was a fast learner and kept improving. There were few things which scared us when he was scoring heavily. One was his tendency to throw wickets. Raj Singh Dungarpur called our father and told him, “Tell Sachin to start the car from the 1st gear and not 5th.” My mother would pray and sister would fast. Nitin would also do something. I would try to create positive vibes before he would go to bat. Once a batsman goes to bat, nobody is in control, but it was an attempt from us to be with him in spirit. We knew there was no scientific basis, but we didn’t mind.”

Hello and welcome to CricketCountry’s coverage of Salaam Sachin — an event organised by the India Today Group in honour of Sachin Tendulkar. The maestro batsman is set to quit international cricket after the second Test against West Indies at Mumbai and since his announcement, there have been many tributes paid to the Master. At this day-long event, we will be hearing from a galaxy of former players — Tendulkar’s teammates, rivals and seniors.

Tendulkar’s elder brother, Ajit will start the proceedings. Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Javagal Srinath will talk about Tendulkar’s inspirational touch. Then, the old rivals, Waqar Younis and Shoaib
Akhtar will express their views about the challenge of bowling to him. Brian Lara, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Bishan Singh Bedi, Rameez Raja and Mohammad Azharuddin will also share their memories at this gathering.

Stay tuned to our coverage.