Friday, April 23, 2010

Sachin turns 37

The iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar turns 37 on Saturday. One of the best and most celebrated cricketers of all times, Sachin has devoted more than half of his life to the game he lives.

Cricket,it seems, was pre-ordained for Sachin who was born and brought up in a traditional Saraswat Brahmin family in a middle class locality in Bandra, Mumbai. His father, Ramesh Tendulkar, was a Marathi novelist and his mother Rajni worked for the Life Insurance Corporation.

To channelise his energy in the right direction, his elder brother, Ajit Tendulkar took him Mr.Ramakant Achrekar, a cricket coach. Sachin attended the MRF Pace Foundation to train as a fast bowler, but Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee suggested the small-framed prodigy to focus on his batting instead. On 11 December 1988, just 15 years and 232 days old, Tendulkar scored his unbeaten century in his debut first-class match for Bombay against Gujarat. He is the only player to score a century in debuts of all three major trophies (Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Trophy). At sixteen, Sachin was selected to play his first Test match for India against Pakistan. His father signed the papers for him, because Sachin was too young. On the final day of first Test series, he was hit on the nose by a bouncer by Waqar Younis who also made his debut in the same series. Sachin fell down but got up again to play. He declined medical assistance and continued to bat even as blood gushed from his nose. He went on to score 57 runs in the match.

Even the world's greatest batsman started his one-day career with a cipher! In his ODI debut against Pakistan as a part of the same tour, Sachin was dismissed without scoring a single run. Incidentally, his first Test and ODI wicket was taken by the same bowler - Waqar Younis. He scored his first ODI century on 9 September 1994 against Australia in Sri Lanka at Colombo. It took him 79 ODIs to score his first century. He scored his maiden Test century to become the second-youngest centurion in the Test history. His 119 not out against England at Old Trafford was a majestic rearguard action that enabled India to hang on for a draw. It still remains among his most valuable Test innings.

On 24 May 1995, Sachin married Anjali, a paediatrician and daughter of Gujarati industrialist Anand Mehta, elder to him by six years. His friends say that Sachin and Anjali met through mutual friends and fell in love. The year of marriage served to be a lucky one for Tendulkar, in that very year, he signed a five-year contract worth Rs 31.5 crore with WorldTel, which made him the richest cricketer in the world. Tendulkar is blessed with two children. His daughter Sara was born on 12 October 1997 and his son, Arjun on 24 September 1999.

In the middle of the 1999 Cricket World Cup, Sachin's father, Ramesh Tendulkar, expired. Tendulkar flew back to India to attend the final rituals of his father. There were speculations that he might not return but the Master Blaster proved yet again that he was made from a different clay altogether. Sachin pulled himself together and proved that he was a true Indian. He returned with a bang to the World cup scoring a century (unbeaten 140 off 101 balls) in his very next match against Kenya in Bristol. He dedicated this century to his father.

In 2002, while commemorating Sachin Tendulkar's feat of equalling Don Bradman's 29 centuries in Test Cricket, automotive giant Ferrari invited Sachin Tendulkar to its paddock in Silverstone on the eve of the British Grand Prix (23 July 2002) to receive a Ferrari 360 Modena from the legendary F1 racer Michael Schumacher. India's then finance minister Jaswant Singh said the customs duty imposed on the car as a measure to applaud his feat but political and social activists protested the waiver and filed PIL in the Delhi High Court. With the controversy snowballing, Sachin offered to pay the customs duty of Rs 1.13 Crores or 120% on the car value of Rs 75 Lakhs and the tab was finally picked up by Ferrari.

Besides cricket, Tendulkar's idol is the American Tennis superstar-John McEnore. During his young age, he argued and fought for McEnore with his colony friends who supported Swedish Bjorn Borg. Sachin's greatest hobby, according to his close friends, is music. He has a vast collection of western pop and serious music and spends every available leisure hour listening to his favourite artists.

In February this year, Tendulkar became the first player to score 200 in a single innings in a One-Day International. That too off just 147 deliveries.

As Indian, Wish you a very happy birthday