For well over two decades, he has, more often than not, been the focus during every game he has featured in.
On Friday, every pair of eyes at the Ferozshah Kotla searched for their newly minted Member of Parliament, Sachin Tendulkar. It was tough to spot him initially among the scores of players and officials milling around on the ground before the man was spotted, bat in hand, during the warm-up.
The atmosphere for the game was electric, pretty much surpassing every game at the Kotla. Perhaps, the 1996 World Cup tie between India and Sri Lanka would come close.
Well before play began at 8pm, the match was declared as sold out. As Lasith Malinga ran in to bowl the first delivery, over 24,000 of the total capacity of 42,000 had entered the venue. Another 10,000 had made it by 9pm, having had to finish work in office and then negotiate the maddening Friday evening traffic.
Despite all the attention on him, Tendulkar looked focused. In fact, the MI icon, time and again, went up to skipper Harbhajan Singh to give advice. The duo was immersed in conversation as the rest of the team waited in a huddle before the toss.
Once the match began, Tendulkar positioned himself at mid-on, waving to Bhajji and teammates and directing things on the field. The only time he wasn't the boss was when the rugby game was on before play began. He kept waving but found no one giving him a pass — perhaps the teammates were worried that he would get injured again.
For the crowd, it was also the old-fashioned Delhi versus Mumbai rivalry. Thousands went into frenzy every time Daredevils skipper Virender Sehwag smashed a boundary.