It was as ball boys during the 1987 World Cup at the Wankhede that Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli saw from close quarters what it meant to play for India. On Thursday, the journey will reach its final chapter when Tendulkar walks out to play his last Test, and it will be with a heavy heart that his school-mate will watch him play, albeit on television.
“To watch him live would have been a momentous occasion, but I will not be there to witness my friend play,” Kambli told HT from Delhi, where he is working for a news channel.
“I feel he is going out at the right time. Knowing Sachin, he must have given it a lot of thought,” he said. “I have seen him destroy bowling attacks in his prime, but he has been struggling in the past few years. It pained me to see him lose his wicket to any random bowler.”
“I had collected my passes for the game but due to my commitments I cannot attend. I think it worked out well as it would have been painful to see him walk off for the last time,” Kambli said.
Reflecting on his team-mate’s career, Kambli said Tendulkar’s greatest strength was his ability to adapt. “He changed his game according to the conditions he faced. In our school days, we would be scolded by Achrekar sir if we played anywhere away from the ‘V’. But as soon as Sachin entered the international arena, he started playing sweeps and reverse sweeps, it was incredible.
“My heart will be there at Wankhede. All I want to see from him is to finish with a classy knock, his arms held high over his head.”