Little high, little low: stories, anecdotes, sidelights
- Sachin’s career has its lows too. First, India’s performance at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies—the worst low in his career. Second was the failure to chase down 120 versus the Windies in Barbados, and getting bowled out for 81 in 1997—his nadir as captain.
- Sachin shares a commonality with Beethoven, Tom Cruise, Jimi Hendrix, Einstein, Rafael Nadal, among others. Sachin, who bats, bowls, throws with his right hand, but writes with his left, is a cross-dominant—people who prefer one hand for some jobs and the other hand for others.
- When a sandstorm interrupted proceedings at the Sharjah stadium in 1998 in what came to be called the “desert storm innings”, Sachin went and hid behind the Australian players. “I knew they’d take the brunt and I wouldn’t be blown away.”
- After his first Test ton, a match-saving 119 n.o. at Old Trafford in 1990, Sachin won a Magnum champagne bottle as man of the match, which he couldn’t pop as he was not yet 18 (age limit for drinking in UK). He saved it for daughter Sara’s first birthday in 1998.
- In the Australia tour to India in 2001, one which is regarded as one of the best Test series in history, Sachin played a major part in India’s 2-1 series win. While we love to recount Laxman’s 281 n.o. and Dravid’s 280 at the Eden Gardens, it was Sachin’s five-over burst in the last session of play that complemented Harbhajan’s special effort in bringing India victory. Of his three wickets (Hayden, Gilchrist and Warne), he dismissed Warne with a googly the spinner would have been proud of. In the last Test of the series, Sachin hit a masterly 126, setting up one of India’s finest series victories.
- Sachin’s ODI double ton broke ex-Pak opener Saeed Anwar’s record of 194. Interestingly, the two opened the batting together for a combined Indo-Pak team in a solidarity game against Sri Lanka in the island nation—when a boycott was on—during the ’96 World Cup.
- In his knock of 241 against Australia at Sydney in 2003-04, Sachin did not play a single cover drive, normally one of his patented run-scoring shots. It was an innings of grit and determination. He wasn’t in great form, so had curbed his natural instincts.
- One of Sachin’s best one-day knocks came against Pakistan at the Centurion, in the 2003 World Cup. Kargil was still fresh in our memory, and the match epitomised what Orwell called ‘war minus the shooting’. Chasing Pakistan’s respectable 273, Sachin decimated their famed pace attack. In one Shoaib Akhtar over, the second of the innings, Sachin stamped his imprint. That six off Akhtar over third man was the basis of entire TV specials. His 98 was an innings of incomparable passion and intensity. He had only had a big bowl of ice-cream during the dinner break, and listened to music the whole time.
- BCCI selectors debated taking 16-year-old Sachin in the Indian team for the Pak tour of 1989-90. Some wondered if the schoolboy would stand up to Imran, Akram and Qadir. West Zone selector Naren Tamhane ended the debate with, “Sachin never fails.”
- A superstitious Sachin helped Anil Kumble achieve his incredible Perfect 10 against Pakistan at Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi. Sachin would give Kumble’s sweater and cap to the umpire before Kumble bowled an over. Every time he did so, Kumble got a wicket.
- The Australians are bitter rivals of Sachin, but they are unabashed admirers of him too. Andrew Symonds once wrote on a T-shirt which he autographed specially for Sachin: ‘To Sachin, the man we all want to be’.
- Sachin got his first T20 hundred at an IPL match against the now defunct Kochi Tuskers. He scored 100 n.o. in a losing cause with Kochi chasing down the Mumbai Indians score. But this meant Sachin had scored a hundred in all formats of the game.
- It is part of lore that if needled, Sachin can hit back with venom. Henry Olonga learnt this in Sharjah, after celebrating for getting Sachin out. Next match against Zimbabwe, Olonga was smashed to all corners. This is what Sachin says: “If the opposition needles you, you get pumped up. You feel the extra urge to put them in their place. In 1992, in Perth, I played a ball with no chance of even a single. I was about to pick and throw the ball to the Aussies. But Border shouted, ‘Don’t you dare touch it.’ I’ve never tried to do it again, for I learnt this is how cricket is played. But it motivated me to get a hundred.”
- One of Sachin’s best bowling performances came in the Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa. He restricted Brian Macmillan and Allan Donald in the last over of the match to carve a two-run win for India. India beat the West Indies in the final.
- Enduring pain at play is a Sachin hallmark. One of his best—perhaps most painful too—hundreds came against Pakistan at Chepauk in a lost cause in 1999. This is what he says of that mind-over-body 136: “Each time I stretched to play a shot, my back was hurting. Once the pain became unbearable, I decided to finish the game before I was forced to leave the ground. I hit four boundaries on the trot. Trying to get the fifth, I holed out to mid-off to Akram off a Saqlain doosra. The entire dressing room was in tears. I couldn’t get myself to take the man of the match award after we had lost.”
- Sachin’s had to pay for his fame many a time. In Calcutta, during the Test match against WI in 2011, he had to turn back from the Kalighat temple without darshan as thousands had gathered for a glimpse of their deity and it would have caused a law and order situation.
- In 2006, Sachin played five games for Lashings World XI in order to regain his fitness for an international comeback. He scored 155, 147 (retired), 98, 101 (retired) and 105 in the five matches with a stunning strike rate of well above 100.
- Sachin was the first player ever to be dismissed given out by the third umpire after a TV replay. This was during India’s tour of South Africa in 1992-3. He had cut to point where Jonty Rhodes effected a save and ran him out with a direct hit.
- The first time Sachin’s name popped up in the papers was courtesy a scorer at a local match in Bombay. The rule was a player’s name appeared if he scored 30 runs. Tendulkar was 24 n.o. but there were many extras in the team’s innings. The scorer decided to credit the six extras to Tendulkar’s tally, increasing his score to 30. Next morning, Sachin’s name appeared for the first time in a Bombay paper. Coach Achrekar however was unhappy and asked Sachin never to allow such a thing to happen again. He was confident Sachin’s name would appear in print many hundred times in future without resorting to anything unethical.
- The Hero Cup final is remembered for Anil Kumble’s match-winning 6-12. What is not known so well is that the most important West Indian wicket in that match—that of Brian Lara—was taken by Sachin. That Calcutta match capped a memorable tourney.
- Superstitions abound in cricket—from Mohinder Amarnath and Steve Waugh’s faith in red handkerchiefs to umpire David Shepherd’s ‘Nelson hops’. Sachin has his own superstition: he always straps on his left pad before the right one.
- The match being shown in Slumdog Millionaire character Javed’s house is the first ODI of the Future Cup between India and South Africa at the Civil Service Cricket Club in Stormont, Belfast, on June 26, 2007. Sachin was run out on 99 and SA went on to win.
- The nanny who looked after toddler Sachin was known as Sachuchi Bai (Sachin’s nanny in Marathi) though her real name was Laxmibai. She quit when he was 12 but when Sachin got married, he sent a car to pick her up from her home in Khar Danda.
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OUTLOOK: 29 April, 2013