I haven’t missed any opportunity to remind Sachin that I was his captain when he made his Test debut in Pakistan. The first thing that struck me on that tour was how assured and confident he was for a 16-year-old.
K Srikkanth He had come into the team on the back of centuries on debut in the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy and the Irani Cup, and obviously that had given him a lot of mental strength.
Before the series began, I took him aside and assured him that no matter what, he would play in all the four matches. Immediately, I could sense an increasing sense of confidence in him because he knew that he did not have to play for a place in the side.
What also stood out was the calmness within himself. Here he was, just 16 years old and playing against some of the fastest, most feared bowlers in the world -- Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis — but he appeared neither flustered nor even a little scared.
I particularly remember the fourth Test in that series in Sialkot with great fondness. We had lost four quick wickets on the final day when Sachin was hit on his nose by Waqar. The physio came out, but Sachin waved him away, composed himself, hit the next ball for four and made a brilliant half-century. That showed the world that even as a kid, he was willing to fight, and he has been a great fighter ever since.
To have played for 20 years with the pressure of expectations of a billion people looking on is just awesome. His greatest asset, apart from his great skills, is his mental strength and his stability. He has just got on with the job, performed no matter what, as simple as that. His other great strength is his passion for and commitment towards cricket. Even today, he brings the same passion with him as he did all those years back.
He has always wanted to do well for India, for his team and his country, and along the way he has broken several records. I know for a fact that nothing has given him greater joy with the Indian team has done well, he is the ultimate team man.