My relationship with Sachin Tendulkar goes back to our under-15 years. Both of us were selected for the national camp in Indore under Vasu Paranjape, a person very dear to me and my family. Sachin was very young even for a 15-year-old, a boy with enormous talent and hopes of being a very successful player.
Fifteen years have passed since and I can wager that he has transformed every dream he had and everyone else's hopes into reality.
I still remember the day my room-mate Abhijit Chatterjee and I woke up to find our room flooded with water and all our suitcases floating around. It was the handiwork of none other than Tendulkar and his bosom pal Vinod Kambli, who were waiting for us outside the balcony with huge smiles on their faces.
They had emptied tubs of water under the door to wake us up, because I had asked Sachin to give me a wake-up call for afternoon practice.
Fifteen years have passed and it gives me immense pleasure to see the heights he has reached and the standards he has set for a whole lot of others to follow. He is a national icon — rightly so — and one of the most popular and respected persons in India.
Sachin is undoubtedly one of the best cricketers India has produced along with Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, but is unique to have broken all records and set ones which can become very hard to beat. He is enormously gifted. The whole world knows about his ability. What amazes me is his hunger and desire to succeed every single time he walks out to play for India.
This game is his life and his world knows only one thing -- to score runs. There is no fuss or theory in the way he plays. He keeps it simple, sticks to the basics and when you talk to him about his batting, you realise how uncomplicated it is.
It has been a pleasure for me to watch him from the other end. We have been playing together for seven years now and I have been fortunate enough to watch some of the best one-day and Test innings ever.
He is a match-winner and that is what makes him different from the rest.
I remember I was sharing a room with him in 1991 in Australia. We did not stay in single rooms then, as we do now. He was awake till four in the morning, unable to sleep as he had to bat the next morning. Even now there are times when he has told me that he has struggled to sleep.
When one sits to write about the man, one does not know where to finish. I take this opportunity to wish him good luck for his 100th Test. It is a major milestone for any Test player and I know he will play many more before he retires. He will set his own records and as a colleague, I will really be surprised if he does not score 100 international hundreds. Well done Sachin, it has been an honour playing with you.