Millions of Indians have waited with bated breath for one special Indian to achieve this milestone - hundred international hundreds. I am really falling short of words to express my feelings! Amazing, incredible, unbelievable… Any adjective in the dictionary doesn't seem enough to describe the man's feat. I can surely tell you, hundred hundreds is not the ultimate figure for Sachin and many more are still due from 'Choto Babu', which in Bengali means the Special One. Well, special he has been to the world of cricket.
It's been a pleasure to have known this man from a very young age, to have shared the dressing-room with him for many years, to have been his partner at the 22-yards, to witness some innings of glory from the closest. If one starts to write about Sachin and his achievements, it surely would be an unending story. But let me tell you one thing, he never got tired of batting even when he was very young. I remember coming across him in one of those age-group national tournaments. He came out to bat with a very heavy bat against East Zone and scored a century. Next morning, when we arrived at the ground, I found him batting in the nets and mind it, not many would do that! That's how much he loved his batting and still does.
People have always asked me about his cricketing philosophy, which according to me is very simple. He just wants to get to the middle and score runs. Well, there could be a question thrown back, who doesn't want? Surely everyone wants, but to do it in the way Sachin goes about it, you need to have special ability.
Adaptability is his special ability. I remember we were touring South Africa in 1997. In the Cape Town Test, Sachin went out to bat and I found he was doing an initial shuffle which I had not seen him do before.
He scored a hundred in that Test match. Later on, when I asked him about the shuffle he said he had tried it for the first time!
Generally, if a batsman would try something new, he would definitely work it out a few times in the nets. But to do it straightaway in a match on a fast, bouncy track and that too against the likes of Donald, Pollock, Klusener and Kallis needed special ability. I believe there can never be a better example of adaptability in world cricket. The way he batted in South Africa recently, is the best I have seen of him on that soil.
On sub-continent pitches he stays away from the hook shot because he knows it's not that necessary here.
But he brought it out in South Africa and used it to the maximum effect. When he was having a problem around the left-side of his waist, one saw him stop the lofted shot totally, because the tweak would cause pain. Instead, he added the 'paddle sweep' to his armoury, which meant that if one avenue of scoring runs was closed, he would open up another. It doesn't happen with one-and-all. Now you would see him using the lofted shot once again. In the initial days of his career, Sachin would be his aggressive self from the word go in the limited-overs format.
Now, he has changed his game and goes about building his innings before launching himself. This doesn't mean he has slowed down, rather it makes him an example of how one should go about building a one-day innings.
These traits tell you that Sachin has the ability to control situation according to his will. There have been attempt at times to criticise Sachin by saying that the quality of bowling in world cricket has been on the wane.
He has stood up to the very best and continues to do his part. One needs to realise that to go out there and keep on doing the best day-in-day-out is an achievement by itself.
One often hears, what is his motivation even after so many years? Representing your country is in itself a motivator. The tri-colour is still proudly imprinted on his helmet and I am sure, it will be there for a few more years.
I would like to congratulate his family for having protected him from all other things, so that Sachin could devote himself solely to cricket. In the end, I would like to keep it simple, and say, Congratulations Sachin.