This day 25 years ago, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar made his debut in Karachi against Pakistan and the rest, as experts acknowledge, is cricketing history.
Tomorrow he completes a year of retirement.
Between that November 15 in 1989 and today lies a quarter of a century’s achievements, with an autobiography — also a November launch — thrown in for good measure.
The fresh-faced, not yet 17-year-old, Tendulkar did little of note on debut, making 15 in the only innings India batted before being bowled by fellow debutant Waqar Younis, an equally exciting talent.
He also turned his hand over in both of Pakistan’s outings at the crease, conceding 25 runs in the 5 overs skipper K Srikkanth gave him.
Morning definitely did not show the day in his case. There have been many who exploded on the international stage at the first given opportunity, but no one blossomed like the Mumbaikar and shone as long as he did.
From the initial trial by fire against the pace of Waqar and Wasim Akram, Tendulkar’s graph soared like never before, ending only after he wrapped up most batting records, a 100 international centuries and a cherished ODI World Cup in a 24-year career.
If people felt bereaved in the cricketing sense when he ended it all at the Wankhede Stadium after a sublime 74 against the West Indies, it marked the acceptance of mortality.
For long, Tendulkar had been much of what one could aspire to in cricket and maybe, for some, in life too. He was a habit nobody would grudge.
Along the way, Tendulkar also redefined the art of batting, especially overseas. With his classy colleagues-in-arms Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, he showed the cricket world that visitors India would no longer be pushovers.
In a recent interview, Dravid revealed a snippet about Tendulkar’s preparation for the 2003 World Cup.
“It changes from time to time. In the 2003 World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar didn’t bat a single ball in the nets right through the tournament. He only got throw-downs. He just received hundreds of throw-downs through the whole tournament.
“All of us were wondering ‘why is he doing that?’ When I asked him, he said, ‘I’m feeling good. I don’t want to go into the nets and waste the touch. I want to feel good about my batting. If I have that sort of feeling, I will score runs when I go in.’ And that’s what happened!”
At the age of 36, when he became the first man to hit 200 in an ODI, Ravi Shastri went berserk in the commentary box. “The first man on the planet to reach 200, and it’s the superman from India – Sachin Tendulkar,” yelled Shastri.
As Tendulkar himself has reiterated many times, the greatest moment in his career was lifting the 2011 World Cup. This was Team India’s gift to the man who had given his sweat and blood to the team’s cause for 24 seasons.