The god of cricket has yet again played god, this time for a friend.
“He (Sachin) is a true friend who came to my help when I needed it most,” said Dalbir Singh (37) after undergoing a hip replacement surgery on Wednesday, courtesy Tendulkar.
Dalbir had played with the Little Master at the under-15 and under-17 level. Dalbir, who played for Gujarat and represented West Zone with Tendulkar till 2001, met with a road accident in 2002 that left him with severe head injuries. A prolonged dose of steroids resulted in avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the hip bone), which rendered him immobile.
“If not for Sachin, I do not know what would have happened to me. There was no chance of an operation,” Singh told HT after being operated upon at the Shalby Hospitals here.
Coming to know of his friend’s deteriorating condition, Tendulkar swung into action. “Sachin sent a message a few days back, telling us to contact specialist doctors in Ahmedabad and said he would bear the cost,” said Sukhbir Kaur, Dalbir’s sister.
That assurance came again when Tendulkar met his friend after the surgery. “He hugged me and told me that he would take care of everything. I am very happy,” said Dalbir.
The former cricketer will require another surgery after three months to replace the right hip. The two surgeries will cost about Rs six lakh and Tendulker will give the sum to the hospital.
Police say Dalbir was rescued from his Gandhinagar home last month, where his second wife kept him under house arrest.
Dalbir said he would like to forget the past and get on with life. Despite a career-damaging accident and two bitter marriages, the humour is still intact.
“I’ve named the matron Hitler as she bosses around, shouting and controlling people,” he said pointing to an elderly nurse.
Dalbir also wrote a letter to Tendulkar in which he said his son, Arjun, would surpass him in the sport. “Tkera beta tera baap niklega,” said Dalbir.