To youth we credit a lot of things, especially in the sporting arena, where to be young is bliss and to be old a curse. In the intensely competitive field of sports only those whose bodies can withstand a workload meant for mules are supposed to excel.
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Exceptions are rare, very rare. The clock ticks for everyone, unless you happen to be Sachin Tendulkar. Watching him defy the suffocating heat and humidity of Colombo, to come up with an exceptional batting performance, took our breath away.
He is 36 and has suffered almost every conceivable physical ailment. At times it has been so bad — like his back problem years ago - that most of us were condemning the cruelty of fate in conspiring to snatch the chisel from the hands of a master sculptor.
But each time his body has suffered, or threatened to keep him away from the cricket field, Tendulkar has come back stronger in mind, tougher in resolve and more passionate in his desire to showcase his wares. That he has the talent of a man whom the world does not tire to call a genius is now a cliche. That he arguably is one of the greatest, if not the greatest batsman in the history of the game also does not need to be reiterated — the world acknowledges it.
Statistically he has already overtaken the world and is still not finished. His achievements are no longer the stuff of a mere mortal. So stupendous are his accomplishments that he himself would not have had the courage to ever dream what he has achieved in reality.
What more is there to do, achieve, or prove? Perhaps nothing but that is not what Tendulkar is living for. It is obvious that his passion for batting, and the joy he derives from it, far exceeds his love for living.
Why otherwise would a man, old by yardsticks applied to a sportsman, show the zeal, vigour and hunger of a teenager making his debut and be desperate not to get out even after having scored a hundred.
His innings at the Premadasa Stadium had all those strokes which a younger, fitter Tendulkar had once unleashed to be considered a genius in the making. His footwork was as nimble as ever. The back-foot punches through the off side were as penetrating as one has seen from him. His manoeuvring the balls pitched on the off stump through wristy flicks to pick gaps on the on side, were strokes of a man in his prime and not in the twilight of his career.
It was a demonstration of batting skill that even he should be proud of. And when his body gave in, he refused to give in.
His panicky shrieks to his runner each time a run had to be taken just about summed up the fierce, undiminished, burning desire of a man who sees no life beyond cricket.