'The Little Master': Part 1

In the cold winter nights of December in the year 2003, when the chill in the air lulled everyone to sleep, I stayed awake. It was during the World Cup, that very year, that my father instilled in me an enormous interest towards cricket.Though I give my father the majority of the credit, there was one other man who ensured my eyes were glued to the television set. He went on to score a total of 673 runs in the World Cup tournament and won the 'Man of the Series' award but most importantly, he won my heart. Sachin Tendulkar made me a cricket-crazy person. He gave me something I could build a career in - Cricket.

Sachin Man Of Series

Coming back to the December in 2003, India was touring Australia for a 4-match test series and a tri-series. Australia was by far the best team in the world then, which gave me all the more reason to watch the test matches whose live coverage would begin at 4 in the night. You could argue it was early morning but it was still utterly dark outside and my grandfather wasn't awake for his daily exercises. Thus,definitely it was night for me. India won the 2nd test in Adelaide but couldn't win the series which ended in a draw 1-1. Taking into consideration the fact that the series was played overseas and that India had retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, it was a great result for the visitors. Moreover, Sachin's 241* in the final test gave immense pleasure and satisfaction to all those people who didn't sleep all night,wanting to watch Sachin bat,including me. My love towards the game just went on increasing drastically as 'The Little Master' just kept piling up the runs.

Now, that his 24-year glorious cricketing career is about to end, we look back on some of the fond memories the 'Genius' has left us with. At the age of 16, when most of his friends were busy preparing for their upcoming exams and were shaping their future, Sachin had other ideas in mind. Aged just 16 years and 223 days to be precise, he was about to face his first ball in Karachi in 1989 and with the red cherry in their hands were the menacing pacers, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. On a green Karachi wicket, Sachin was noted for how he handled numerous blows to his body at the hands of the Pakistani pace attack. In the fourth and final test in Sialkot, he was hit on the nose by a bouncer bowled by Younis and one would have expected him to leave the field in fear given the fact that he was just a 16-year old kid but to everyone's surprise, he didn't leave. In fact, he even declined medical assistance and continued to bat even as he gushed blood from it. Looking at the determination and selflessness he showed that day, it wouldn't have been a bad guess to believe that he would go on to score a 100 hundreds, close to 16000 test runs and 18000 ODI runs.

On his tour to England in July-August 1990, he became the second youngest cricketer to score a test century as he made 119 not-out in the second test at Old Trafford in Manchester. Wisden described his innings as "a disciplined display of immense maturity". His flawless cover-drives, delicate cut shots, spectacular on-drives and lovely leg-glances helped India claim a famous draw, when defeat looked the most likely outcome.

Sachin's innings against a strong Pakistani side in the 2003 World Cup was a spectacular one indeed. His flamboyant upper cut shot to a Shoaib Akhtar pacy bouncer sailed over the point boundary and that shot is firmly etched in my memory. He himself regards this innings of his as one of the best he has ever played.

What, according to me, has got to be his best ODI innings is his 175 against Australia in Hyderabad on the 5th of November,2009. I was extremely fortunate to witness this awesome innings of his as a spectator in the ground. I still remember how I screamed with joy for every single shot he played, with the 'I LOVE SACHIN' hat on my head. It was an important match,as the teams were tied 2-2 before this encounter in the 7-match series. Sachin contributed tremendously to the cause but couldn't find enough support from the other end,as India went down fighting. Nevertheless, it was exciting watching him bat that day. How easily he was clearing the ground batting against the spinners was unbelievable.

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