Sachin ready to explode
'Pressure… What pressure?' asks a Pepsi-drinking Shah Rukh Khan as if it does not exist. At least the rest of the world knows it's there. Loads of it. And the person carrying the burden of most of it, is none other than Sachin Tendulkar.
The Little Master is used to carrying the burden — he has done this manfully for 14 years over almost 300 matches. Sachin knows how to handle pressure and while others tend to collapse and disintegrate under the strain, the big guy takes it in his small stride.
It is nice to know that so many people wish you well, he says, in a quiet yet forceful manner. It is great encouragement and motivation.
At the same time, performing in high-pressure situations is not one bit easy. A batsman is on test every ball, and the World Cup is a huge challenge. When everyone's eyes are focussed on the event and comparisons are made freely, players play as much for themselves as for their teams.
Sachin is fully aware that h needs to produce something extraordinary in South Africa. Despite his glittering career and enviable stats, there is a feeling that going into the World Cup, Sachin is searching for his best form. He has had an ordinary run lately, looks a touch vulnerable and is not the brutally dominant performer we know him to be. Moreover, the fact that others have grabbed the glare, and threatened his preeminent position, must dent his pride a bit.
This is worrying because Sachin is a mere stroke away from sealing his place in cricket history. At this stage of his career (100 plus Tests with 34 hundreds, the highest runs and centuries in one-dayers), Sachin would want to produce something he will be remembered for.
When a cricket student studies his records, perhaps 50 years down the line, he should gasp in admiration and unhesitatingly agree that after Bradman this man was the greatest ever.