No cricketer has experienced pressure quite like Sachin Tendulkar. Such has been the expectation he has had to live with all throughout his career. However, the moment he has dreaded the most is finally upon him, and as he takes the final bow, the cricketing world awaits the final response of his glorious career.
It’s a game for which few can claim to be mentally prepared, no more about getting the timing right or feeling physically well, the sheer volume of emotions can freeze you.
His most famous contemporary, Brian Lara, has observed that Mumbai legend should prepare for his final Test in the same way he has done all his life. Interestingly, ahead of the final Test, it’s not been the typical Sachin Tendulkar preparation, which has been only about training and more training. In 2011, when he touched down from the long South Africa tour, the next morning he was at the MCA’s Bandra Kurla cricket complex, kicking off his preparation for the World Cup nearly two months away.
Since he left Kolkata, the first time he touched his bat was on Tuesday with everyone else at the Indian training. In between, the time has been spent with family and friends. Sunday was wife Anjali’s birthday and the occasion celebrated with friends.
The retirement question answered, to his close circle he’s looked more relaxed and is just looking to enjoy the moment.
At his first nets before the farewell Test, he looked like going through simple routines. There were no forcing shots from the batting great; only balls which were in line of the stumps were touched. As the diminutive genius trained, the excitement around the Wankhede was palpable. The Mumbai cricketing fraternity made a beeline to the association office for passes.
Will he, won’t he?
While a hundred is on everyone’s wish-list, no one knows what to expect. The experts feel he is past his prime to conjure another magical innings and leave on a high. But those in the local cricket fraternity, who have seen him grow from a boy to a living legend, are confident he will give them their last ‘shambhar’.
“‘Shambar sau taka’ (century, hundred per cent),” said Tendulkar’s former Mumbai Ranji teammate Prasad Desai, with unflinching confidence as he stood at the ropes, watching him bat. “No one knows his mental make-up better than us. I used to be his captain in the Bombay Colts team. I also used to live at Dadar and it was my responsibility to get him from Dadar to Churchgate for practice and matches at the Wankhede. (We) always took the fast local (which is more crowded); I used to place our bags and stand in a way to shield him from the crowd,” reminisced Desai, who was a strapping pace bowler.
“This is the first Test I will sit for the entire five days. Till now, the maximum I have never watched more than an hour of play,” said Abey Kuruvilla, who played under Tendulkar’s captaincy for Mumbai and India. “He is going to get runs. Even in this team, in tough conditions, he will be the only on to get runs.”