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A talent designed by God himself

india Updated: Oct 18, 2008 00:31 IST
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In mid 1987, Hemant Waingankar, who is like my younger brother, told me about two young boys making waves at the inter-school level in Mumbai. He said there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that both would play for India and he has never been wrong in his cricketing predictions.

Sachin stats

150
The first Indian to
play these many Tests

247
Number of innings
he took in 152 Tests at
an average of 54.03 to get here

11,000
Was the first
Indian to surpass this
landmark in Tests.

10,000
Shares the record
with Brian Lara for being
the fastest to reach this
milestone in Tests.
Both of them did it in 195 innings

5751
Number of runs he
has scored in Tests
away from home, the most
by any batsman in Tests

39
Number of Test
centuries he has
scored, most by any batsman

5
Number of tons he
scored as a teenager
— a world record

50
Number of half-centuries
he scored in Tests,
the second most by an Indian

The two boys were Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. I was curious, and went with Milind Rege, my childhood friend, to the nets of the Mumbai probables to have a look them.

I stood hidden in the players' enclosure and had my first glimpse of the genius of Sachin Tendulkar. He played a couple of forcing shots to midwicket off the backfoot off Raju Kulkarni, and that was enough to convince me that he was a special talent.

As was the custom in those days, he had to be given some sort of nickname. Milind and I thought of "Tendlya", which admittedly is not the greatest of nicknames, but he was our "Tendlya".

Thereafter, Milind would often call up to say how "Tendlya" had smashed this bowler and how he had toyed with the other. And if he was batting somewhere close by, he would ask me to join him and enjoy his batting.We would then chortle as retired cricketers do seeing "Tendlya" take apart an attack as if he was having a net. It wasn't long before he was picked for India, and we had to reluctantly share our "Tendlya" not just with India but the rest of the cricketing world, who also fell hopelessly in love with his batting as we had.

There wasn't the slightest of doubt that he was destined to bag all batting records. The only worry was his driving; his car driving I mean. He drove too fast and I had to in fact plead with him once to be careful. He did listen, but he still zooms around like Michael Schumacher.

His cricketing drives, however, don't give any of the anxious moments that his driving does. If anything, it simply uplifts, for the shots stay on in the mind's eye even after the day's play. It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little champion does. There is not a single shot he cannot play; even reverse sweep, scoop and lap sweep shots of his cannot be bettered.

The batting records couldn't be in better hands, for here is a player with special talent who has been a role model for a generation and has handled the expectations of millions of his fans along with the demands and pressure of the modern media amazingly well.

Congrats "Tendlya", and I look forward to a celebration with you soon. And don't you dare call it quits till you have won the World Cup for India in 2011.

PMG