India's Sachin, Sachin's India!
Imagine a time when your country
is known as one of the poorest nations in the world. A time when their social and economic infrastructure is crumbling. States are fighting for their freedom
with AK-47's. A strong divide between North, South, East and West.The country is close to bankruptcy due to extreme corrupt politicians, sky-high inflation, unemployment at record highs and the confidence of their people at its lowest.
This is India in the 80's
And the only escape
people had was their Cinema and Cricket
While India didn't make world class movies during that period, Cricket is whole other story. We won the coveted World Cup
in 1981 but since then, it has been nothing but downhill
.The Indian cricketers didn't really inspire much confidence in those who watched them reverently
.They lost consistently from every winning position which made those defeats even worse. The nail in the coffin came when India lost to arch-rival Pakistan in Sharjah cup final.Pakistan needed six runs from one ball. The only way to win was to hit the ball out of the park for a six. And Pakistani batsman Javed Miandad did just
that. The confidence of Indian cricket viewer's psyche
was forever affected because of that one six. Every game we watched since then, we knew India can go from commanding winning position to crash miserably in the end.
It was during such a period that a young prodigy called Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar
, just 16yrs of age, was selected in the coveted Indian Cricket team. As I was watching this young boy, just few years older than me, cart the most famous Pakistani Spinner Abdul Qadir for three four sixes in one over, all I could say was, "Finally, we have a guy who is unafraid, courageous and confident!".
For those of us, who grew up in the 90's, Sachin gave us hope
. Every team we played against- England,Australia, NewZealand- it was clear that they weren't playing against India but one man, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. As long as Sachin was in the field, there was hope for a billion people. He would take apart opposition bowling single handedly and if he failed in batting, he would turn the game around with his bowling.
Sachin's rise perfectly synched
with India's rise. Indian markets opened up in 1991. There was a cable television revolution in early 90's. It would not be an understatement to say that the mood of India fluctuated with the mood of Indian Cricket team's fortunes. India slowly grew in confidence as Sachin scored centuries across continents and the eternal, loyal, ardent Indian Cricket fan started believing in their confidence. We were not bunnies anymore as we toured in bouncy Australia and South Africa pitches. The generation that was there when Sachin debuted, retired. A new generation of cricketers- Rahul Dravid,Saurav Ganguly,VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble- joined Sachin to take Indian cricket to next level.
As we, the 12yr olds, grew old
, came into workforce, travelled to different countries, there was one thread
that made us feel closer to home- Sachin's Batting
. We woke up in the middle of night to watch him play and play he did. We didn't mind going to work the next day bleary eyed, looking worse than half-drunk
. We had witnessed another Sachin's hundred. It gave us hope in our own struggles trying to make our way without family, without friends, without the support system, in a foreign country. Sachin's batting and AR Rahman's music soothed us, the expats, through our most difficult times. India was only a click away on the Internet and every penny we paid for those expensive pay-per-view Cricket
in Dish network to see Sachin in standard definition was worth it as we wanted to see our childhood hero dazzle us with his cover drive.
Sachin is in our DNA
. Cricket meant watching Sachin score a century. There were other cricketing heroes. Rahul Dravid was the quintessential thinking man, intense and cerebral. Saurav Ganguly was the rebel captain, the "Dada". Laxman was the eternal saviour but Sachin was the heart
.The innumerable times when India would fold after another great innings from Sachin left an indelible
mark in the Indian fan' psyche as we felt Sachin's pain
of losing in spite of wonderful showmanship and skill. His pain was ours.
He carried our ridiculous, Jupiter
size expectations every time he walked to play and never once complained. When Sachin scores seventy runs, it is considered way below par. When Sachin gets out in the 90's,we complain that his reflexes
are slow and he should retire. Even though the 12yr olds are way into their thirties, somehow, there is an optical illusion
when we see Sachin. He is still the silent-baby-faced-assasin
of the 90's.
After 23 yrs, when India won
the World cup in 2011, one billion people weren't happy for just India but were elated for Sachin Tendulkar as he can finally retire without regrets. No one deserved it more than the 16yr old kid we grew up with.
At 40, playing his 200th test, having scored 100 hundreds
, 51 hundreds in Test Cricket(5-day format) and 49 in one-day format, Sachin Tendulkar will retire
in just two or three days. He is playing with the third generation of cricketers- Virat Kohli who was one year old when Sachin debuted, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who wasn't even born when Sachin debuted, along with Shikar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara.
A new generation
that plays with tremendous confidence, even tad arrogant, reflecting today's India.The problems of the eighties haven't gone away completely but there is a forceful confidence
in young India. Sachin has been the bridge
to get us here.
The game has dramatically
changed since 1989. Teams are scoring 700 runs in a day. Bowlers have been reduced to mere spectators
. Every single minute is commercialized. Test cricket may not survive in five years. One day cricket has become an extension of T-20 cricket. I honestly don't know if I will wake up
in the middle of night to watch the current crop of brilliant players as I did for Sachin.
He stuck around for 24yrs
doing what he knows best- play cricket for India and bring laurels to the sport and country. For some of us, who grew up in India and living outside, he is the last thread
holding us to the game that's in our operating system
. We were truly blessed to watch his passion and skill for the past 24yrs. We won't miss Sachin because he is in our personal-identity-DNA
. Cricket will always be a part of us and for many of us, Cricket is Sachin
.Thank you Sachin
for being part of our lives, giving us memories that have inspired us, helped us overcome our difficult times and above all, the smiles and joy you brought with your skill, dedication and sacrifice for the game!Adios my forever-sporting-hero! #thankyousachin #Thankyou #sachin #sachintendulkar #sachintendulkarretirement #sachinsachin #bcci #India #cricket #nostalgia