The streets leading to ‘Asha’, the building at Shivaji Park in Mumbai where Sachin Tendulkar’s coach Ramakant Achrekar resides, were abuzz with talk of the 100th century. There were fans and photographers outside the ground floor residence for a glimpse of the man who taught Tendulkar the art of batting.
In front of the television was Achrekar, who had just witnessed history unfolding as Tendulkar notched up the elusive century against Bangladesh at Dhaka in the Asia Cup on Friday. The joy over his disciple’s much-awaited milestone overshadowed the guru’s discomfort while talking, as Achrekar exclaimed while stretching his hand forward in elation, “I had always expected Sachin to do very well and today am very happy. I cannot explain how happy I am, it is unbelievable.”
Achrekar had been puzzled by the prolonged century drought Tendulkar was experiencing. “Sachin failing again and again was difficult to understand. I would get tense up and my mood would sour every time he was dismissed.”
Achrekar believes Tendulkar is far from finished at the international level. “My message to him would be to continue playing the way he has. In fact, he has a lot more to offer to cricket.”
He shakes his head vigorously at the mere mention of the word ‘retire’. “No way! Do not talk about Sachin retiring. He can go on for a few more years as he is still fit. When he retires, there will be a huge vacuum in the country’s team, it will be hard to fill.”
Achrekar does not see any player replacing the legend. “No, India will never have another Sachin. They may have another great player, but never a Sachin.” At his homeground, Kamat CC at Shivaji Park, coach Nilesh Raut was conducting the nets where Tendulkar honed his skills. Raut said: “The fact that Sachin hails from this place is added motivation.”
The young trainees were abuzz, and 14-year-old Shashank Agarwal said: “That he never gives up in spite of many obstacles is something I want to learn from him and emulate.”