Thursday, 10 October 2013

Sachin Tendulkar: The man who turned stones into milestones

Hearing about Sachin's retirement made me feel for the first time, how one tends to take things for granted. Like the sun, or water, I had always thought Sachin would never walk away. I feel kind of emptied out. We began our careers more or less together, so there is an affinity I cannot explain, though, of course, he is much younger than me. Right now, sitting in Perth, I am getting a cold turkey kind of feeling.

I grew up watching Sunil Gavaskar play, and I never thought anyone could possibly ever reach those heights. And then came Sachin. In the early days watching Sachin play, what had struck me was his bohemian simplicity of achieving something big, and I think Sachin never stopped playing freely.

Though I respect his decision and know that I could never have influenced him, I wish I were in India to persuade him to play for maybe another 10 years?

I have had many discussions on cricket with him, and this Almighty of cricket is the most informed expert on the game one can imagine. However cliched it sounds, an era has ended with him.

There was a thing Sachin had said in an interview a few years ago - 'when people throw stones at you, turn them into milestones' - it is something I'll never forget.

Sachin replies to his critics on the field, his work is his answer. Because 99.9% who criticise him do not know 0.000% of cricket, as what Sachin has is a gift not just excellence, and one cannot question a gift of God.

A while ago, my daughter Suhana and I wrote a poem for Sachin, where we had to introduce him on stage, a simple childish one, but he loved it and even asked us for it to keep it.

From his great 24-year repertoire of games, one that stays is how he hit Shoaib Akhtar all over the boundary for fours and sixes, when Shoaib was really knocking Sachin out. He played fire with fire. I think it was one of the World Cup matches, though I am not very sure.Even today, my IPL team boys tell me, 'However tired Sachin sir is, he comes out and works out'. That kind of dedication is what he is made of. As a child, Sachin may have been born with a gift, but Sachin, the man, backed it with grit and determination.

As for what he will do after retirement: I think he has already given the best years of his life to cricket and the sport. People don't realise how much he's given - he is an icon, a role model, he has given countless records to match or break. Cricket is already blessed by Sachin. In my opinion, he should now sit back and enjoy.

A recent memorable moment was with Dilip (Kumar) saab and Sachin. We were shooting for a Filmfare cover with Dilip saab, Amitji and me, and Dilip saab mentioned Sachin's name. I told him the same, and he came to meet Dilip saab.

The moment of watching Sachin standing next to Dilip saab was so pure and beautiful, so electrifying, that no camera could have captured that.

My favourite shot of Sachin? When he moves away and hits a bouncer for a six from outside the off stump.

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