Monday, July 18, 2011

Ton-dulkar! Stand by to marvel at the Little Master as India head to Lord's

So many stats swirl around Sachin Tendulkar that the effect can be dizzying - like staring too long at the Taj Mahal. You may have gathered that the man they call the Little Master is diminutive in the physical sense alone. By any other measure he is monumental. Tendulkar has played 631 times for India in all formats, scored nearly 33,000 runs and hit 99 hundreds.

But the number most likely to induce vertigo is a simple date: 1989. On November 15 that year, only six days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tendulkar first played for India.
It is astonishing enough that he was only 16 when, wearing the pads bequeathed to him by Sunil Gavaskar, then the keeper of the keys to Indian batting's hall of fame, he went out to face Pakistan's Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Yet nothing contextual ises Tendulkar better than events more than 3,000 miles away that year in Germany. Eastern Europe's social and political upheaval seems so long ago now, but Tendulkar - like some historical document which forever updates itself - is still with us. Here is a modern cricketer who has straddled eras like no other.

When he made his Test debut in Karachi - imagine an English teenager playing his first game at the MCG - he had been practising with a proper cricket ball for just five years. Previously, he had faced tennis balls or ones made of rubber. No Indian had represented his country so young.

Sensing vulnerability, Waqar hit him on the nose. Later in the series Wasim was warned by English umpire John Holder for peppering him with too many bouncers. Even then, Tendulkar was singled out, yet he still managed a respectable series average of 35, better than his feted seniors Ravi Shastri and Kapil Dev. 

Tendulkar showed, wrote Wisden, 'that age is no consideration in Test cricket when a batsman is brimming with talent'. And so it proved. 

Twenty-two years on, he stands on the brink of his 100th international hundred. Next comes Ricky Ponting, with 69. Jacques Kallis has 57, Brian Lara retired with 53. No-one else has more than 44. The best-placed Englishman is Graham Gooch with 28. The figures speak for themselves.

Comparisons with Don Bradman, who made 29 hundreds and averaged 99.94 to Tendulkar's 56.94, remain one of cricket's favourite parlour games.

Statistically, Bradman will always be untouchable, but the gentler fixture list of his day meant his workload paled in comparison. Bradman played 52 Tests in 20 years, although his career was interrupted by the war. Tendulkar is about to embark on his 178th in 22 - and he has played a year-and-a-quarter's worth of one-day internationals.

And while Bradman had expectations of his own to deal with, not least a burgeoning sense of Australian nationalism at the time of the Great Depression and the iniquities of Bodyline in 1932-33, Tendulkar has played each of his games carrying the hopes of a billion Indians.

Suffice to say that when Bradman first saw Tendulkar on television, he called his wife Jessie over to tell her that the Indian reminded him of himself.

It remains the greatest compliment ever paid in cricket - even if Bradman was in effect complimenting himself. Gooch was captain of England when Tendulkar first toured here in 1990 and, curly-haired and stubble-free, saved the second Test at Old Trafford with an unbeaten 119 - the first of his 99 hundreds.

'You can always tell with a player from the way he moves and holds himself and shapes up at the crease,' says Gooch. 'Even at 17 years of age, you could see he had all the attributes. I was slightly irritated his innings cost us the Test, but it was a masterful knock and it set the tone for the 98 hundreds that followed.'

For those who followed his progress as a frighteningly precocious schoolboy in Mumbai, the Manchester hundred may have felt as inevitable as one of those trademark square-drives, played off the back foot on tiptoes at the top of the ball's bounce.
 Tendulkar was lucky to inherit his poet father's sang-froid and work ethic, regularly arriving for practice at dawn in Shivaji Park, where hundreds of youngsters still congregate daily and dream of becoming the next Sachin.

As a 14-year-old, he made unbeaten scores of 207, 329 - in a partnership of 664 with his friend and future Test team-mate Vinod Kambli - and 346 in the space of five innings in a schools tournament. 'Gentlemen,' an Indian selector was reported to have told his colleagues when pushing for the prodigy's inclusion on the 1989 trip to Pakistan. 'Tendulkar never fails.'

English bowlers down the years have come to understand the truth of that statement. In 24 Tests against them, Tendulkar has scored 2,150 runs at an average of 61, with seven hundreds. Four of them have come in 13 Tests in England, where he averages 62. The old wisdom that Indian batsmen struggle in English conditions is happy to regard Tendulkar as an exception.

Even so, in 2002, they thought they had his measure. 'He was in bad form that summer,' says Duncan Fletcher, then the coach of England but now in charge of India and Tendulkar. 'So we tried the tactic of bowling short outside off. Only in the last Test did he get a hundred. Great players always find a way.'

The trouble was, Tendulkar turned that hundred into 193 as India squared the series at Headingley.
Angus Fraser, who dismissed him in his first Test in England, at Lord's in 1990, recalls: 'Brian Lara was probably the harder of the two to bowl to, because he could make you look ridiculous if he was in the mood. But Sachin was the greater cricketer - to play to such a high level so for so long is remarkable.'

As if to prove the point, Tendulkar's 177 at Trent Bridge in 1996 was his 10th Test ton - yet he was still only 23, far younger than any of the England players in that game.

Although a Lord's century has so far eluded him - in fact, in seven attempts he has never made more than 37 in a Test at the home of cricket - he seems to have got better with age. There have been slumps, it's true. But the best yardstick of a player's greatness is his response to adversity. 

In January 2004, Tendulkar arrived at Sydney having failed to score a Test hundred for 14 months. Tormented by a range of bowlers from Jason Gillespie to the forgotten Brad Williams, he had been limited to scores of 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44 in the first three Tests. 

Tendulkar simply decided to stop encouraging Australia's bowlers outside off-stump, and so - as if he was a painter discarding his easel - out went the cover drive. For more than 10 hours, he stuck to his monastic policy and forced the bowlers to come to him. He finished with 241 not out, of which 188 came on the leg-side, and almost overshadowed Steve Waugh's final Test appearance.

When tennis elbow and a shoulder injury conspired to rob him of form once more in 2006, critics were quick to predict the end of his career. Instead, Tendulkar knuckled down - and came again.

Since that annus horribilis, he has scored 4,102 Test runs at 63, with an astonishing 16 hundreds. And he became the first player to reach 200 in a one-day international, against South Africa at Gwalior in February 2010. Tendulkar was nearly 37.

His long-time team-mate Rahul Dravid says: 'I wasn't playing that day. But I remember talking to some of the South African boys later, when they played with me in the Indian Premier League. They said it was incredible how he kept finding the gaps with good cricket shots and score at a good pace without ever seeming like he was rushing.'

Over a couple of decades, presumably, you have to learn how to pace yourself. Gooch says: 'His desire and commitment to Indian cricket are extraordinary and he has to deal with a level of attention that none of us can really appreciate.

'He can barely go anywhere or do anything without being ambushed, so to maintain that level of performance is something else.'

That degree of expectation was captured only nine years into his international career by the Indian poet and critic CP Sunderan.

'Batsmen walk out into the middle alone,' he wrote. 'Not Tendulkar. Every time Tendulkar walks to the crease, a whole nation, tatters and all, marches with him to the battle arena. A pauper people pleading for relief, remission from the lifelong anxiety of being Indian, by joining in spirit their visioned saviour.'

India has changed even in the 13 years since Surendran penned those words. But being Sachin Tendulkar has not.

Michael Vaughan: Sachin Tendulkar, still the best in the business, is everything you would ever want in a batsman

After India’s tour to England in 2007 it felt as if we had seen the last of Sachin Tendulkar in this country. Chris Tremlett was bowling well against him and Sachin looked a bit fearful of the short ball, which tends to happen towards the end of a player’s career.

Ryan Sidebottom was also causing him a lot of problems, he didn’t score a hundred in the series and averaged only 38. To think he is still on the circuit, playing better than ever and is on the verge of a 100th international century is a phenomenal achievement.
People ask why he is so good and what sets him apart from the rest? I played in an era of great batsmen but Tendulkar is top of the list simply because of the pressure and weight of expectation he has coped with. He is more famous in India than their prime minister or president and has had to deal with the kind of pressure that status brings whenever he walks to the crease.

When he arrives at the wicket everything is perfect. His technique is great.

There have been various theories about batting over the last decade or so with buzz words such as trigger movements and forward presses. Tendulkar just stands still. He is dead side on. If you sat down with a pen and paper to draw the perfect batsman, you would sketch out Tendulkar’s profile.

He is side on with a nice simple back lift. His shoulders are aligned to mid on and he plays straight. He gets his head over his front leg and plays close to his body. Tendulkar does everything that any good coach would teach and he has been playing in that simple fashion for the whole of his career.

When he was struggling with his elbow injury in 2007 he went through a phase of trying to defend his wicket, but just recently he has started to attack again which is when he plays at his best.

It is the same as Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting. Whenever they looked to defend you thought you could get them out. When great players such as these guys attack and score quickly they are beautiful to watch. Their feet move more positively, they get in position quicker and Tendulkar will arrive here looking to take the bowlers on because he knows they will be aggressive towards him.

Like all batsmen, he is at his most vulnerable early in the innings to the fuller delivery nipping back. A ball pitching on off stump and coming back through the gate will cause him problems.

I have seen him driving through balls early on and be bowled or lbw on a number of occasions. England could also undermine him with bounce, which is why Tremlett will be key. England should open with Tremlett but the difference from four years ago is that he will not duck and weave. He will take the short ball on. The best players see the short ball as a scoring opportunity not to just something to evade.

If the ball is swinging, James Anderson nipping back a ball that pitches on fourth stump [an imaginary stump outside off] and hitting middle or off will be very dangerous. Indian batsmen, Tendulkar included, go a long way over to the off side with their pad.

England have to back that line up with disciplined fields. The mid-on has got to be dead straight for Tendulkar. You can’t allow him to see the gap straight down the ground. Your midwicket also has to be straight as well so when he looks to the leg side does not see an easy scoring option. If he looks at those field settings and thinks “I can’t pierce those gaps” he will play square through extra cover. If he does that, and the ball nips back, you are in the game because if he misjudges an in-swinger you could have him nicked off and caught in the slips.

To nullify Tendulkar’s threat England will want pace in the pitch so their short balls or length deliveries are zipping through to the keeper. It is just a case of whether the administrators will let that happen. They will not want three day matches. Tendulkar is box office and that equals a lot of money for the Test match grounds. They will want four or five day cricket to maximise their takings.

Lord’s will be packed with fans hoping to see history made. There is an air of goodwill from everyone towards Tendulkar that other great players have not enjoyed.

I have never heard anyone say anything bad about him. Normally when you have a guy who is the greatest sportsman in his field, he is seen as selfish and makes enemies. Not Tendulkar. He is great around the team, young players and the opposition.

He was always generous with me, perhaps because of his time at Yorkshire. I was an academy player when he became Yorkshire’s first overseas cricketer in 1992. I was sat on the park benches under the old dressing rooms at Headingley when he made his debut. He was looked like a schoolkid aged about 12 when he walked out to bat. He did not play a huge amount for Yorkshire but he was very popular. The Yorkshire dressing room introduced him to Tetley Bitter and he loved it, which is why we call him “Yorkie” even now.
He remembered those times ten years later when we played against each other in Test cricket. I was playing well in 2002 and had a good chat with him during that series. I asked him about playing in Australia later that winter. He said the only way to be successful it to attack. He said you have to be positive against Warne and McGrath otherwise they will get on top of you. It was good advice and set me on my way.

But England have to remember Tendulkar is only human. He makes mistakes. They must also forget the verbals. Let the ball do the talking instead. It is what he has done with his bat for 20 years.

Sachin can Lord it with ton of tons

SACHIN TENDULKAR stands on the brink of one of the most extraordinary feats in sport.

The magical, masterful little batsman from India has hit 99 international centuries and can reach his ton of tons next week in the First Test at Lord's.

One hundred hundreds for your country is a bit like scoring 200 international goals, 150 tries or amassing 20 majors in golf or tennis.

When Tendulkar passes the astonishing milestone, it will be a tribute to his talent, hunger, longevity and desire. He has been playing for India for 22 years, untainted by scandal.

England Test captain Andrew Strauss will be trying to prevent him scoring his historic hundred but is gushing in his praise.

Strauss said: "It goes without saying that scoring 99 hundreds is a phenomenal achievement.

"He seems to be playing as well as ever. It's an example to us all. If you're hungry, there's no reason your powers should decline when you get older.

"It's the overall package with Sachin. Technically, he is fantastic and so is his mental strength because he is under so much pressure. He's also a very dignified and humble man."

Tendulkar made his India debut at 16 in 1989 and at 38 he is stronger than ever. In his last Test series against England, he scored a match-winning century in Chennai in December 2008.

Then he thanked each England player for returning to India despite the Mumbai terrorist attack a few weeks earlier.

Kevin Pietersen was England's captain that day. He said: "I watch him bat and wonder how he makes it look so easy. To cap it all, he is a true gentleman."

England's best chance might be to unleash 6ft 8in fast bowler Chris Tremlett against the 5ft 5in little master. Former England skipper Michael Vaughan insisted: "Tremlett bowled well against Sachin in 2007 and he is a much better bowler now.

"England might go aggressive and test him with a few short balls though even that tactic doesn't normally affect him."

Tendulkar has never scored a Test century at Lord's and says he is not anxious about his imminent landmark.
He said: "I'm not thinking of records. If I enhance my enjoyment then, naturally, the standard of play becomes higher. If I play well, things can happen. I don't need to go chasing them."

What a pair - SRT & RF @ Wimbeldon 2011

Sachin Tendulkar takes it easy ahead of England series in search for 100 centuries

Sachin Tendulkar would not mind marking the occasion by becoming the first cricketer to reach 100 international centuries. The 1,000th Test match, between Pakistan and New Zealand in November 1984, saw a century in each innings by Javed Miandad.
But while India are currently touring the West Indies, playing against disorganised opponents on pretty deserted grounds, Tendulkar has been staying in London, at a property he owns near Lord’s.

Preparation has been the fundament of his success — his genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains over his batting — so this time he is spending in reconnaissance for the England series can be considered part of his master plan to make an immortal mark on the 2,000th Test.
‘‘He has been a regular visitor to Lord’s in recent weeks,’’ says an MCC spokesman. Tendulkar, however, has not had a single net-session himself.
What he has been doing, as an honorary life member of the club, has been going to the MCC cricket academy to coach his 11-year-old son, Arjun — and passing on tips to other people using the indoor nets. Thus must the children of Israel have felt when Moses was given the tablets
Tendulkar’s practising will start in earnest this week, ahead of the Indians’ only warm-up fixture in this country, against Somerset (including Andrew Strauss) on Friday week. But, for someone who has learnt by the age of 38 exactly how and when to peak, relaxation has to come first.

As the captain of Mumbai Indians — on well over a million dollars for the six-week tournament — he was playing in India until May 27, and needed a rest after his long season, which had climaxed in the fulfilment of his ambition to win the World Cup, at his sixth attempt.

By coming to England early with his family, Tendulkar has escaped the humidity of the build-up to the monsoon in his native Mumbai.

He has also escaped the equally intense and suffocating scrutiny of the masses, who force him to use disguises to get out of his apartment block, where he lives with his wife Anjali, the daughter of an Indian businessman and an English social worker.

In London he has been able to relax, with far fewer bodyguards than normal. At Wimbledon last week he had a long conversation with Roger Federer — and perhaps commiserated with him on what a pitifully small fan-base the tennis champion has by comparison.

(When Tendulkar attended Wimbledon in 2006 and sat next to Mervyn King, he could have commiserated with him on the comparatively small financial resources that the Governor of the Bank of England has at his disposal.)

Early in his career Tendulkar became the first cricketer to earn a million dollars a year — by legitimate means, that is — and he still amasses endorsements almost as if they were runs.

Last week he visited Winchester as part of another business venture he has signed up to: in cricket-themed entertainment centres you will be able to bat against an image of Tendulkar (or other, better, international bowlers) that runs in and delivers a semi-hard ball at you; or bowl against an image of him that deals with your delivery after calculating the trajectory and rotations of the ball.

He has taken his two children with him to Winchester — Arjun and his 13 year-old daughter Sara.
The son is said to bat studiously and without conspicuous natural talent — yet his father was famously turned away by a coach at an early age for not being sufficiently talented (this was before Tendulkar put his mind to work to make the utmost of what he has). His daughter, on the other hand, bats freely, unburdened by expectation.

Another business venture is the Tendulkar Opus, about his life. The initial publicity said that 10 copies of the full edition would be sold at £49,000 each with a sample of his blood included.

The more prosaic reality is that an interim edition is due to be published at the end of this summer, at £200 a copy, and a larger edition costing four figures when he retires.

Not that there is any sign of that, because in the last couple of years — free of the tennis elbow injury that had dogged him and had stopped him driving to the offside — he has married the aggression of his youth to the defence of his mid-career.

To become the first to score 100 international centuries — he has 51 in Tests and 48 in one-day internationals, without a rival in sight – would set the seal on his career.

It is the statistics which have turned Tendulkar from famous to immortal: his Indian team-mates Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have played more match-winning Test innings, but Tendulkar has assembled the numbers after his name, like an academician his letters.

The effect of Tendulkar’s preparation in London will be that he is in a happy frame of mind when the rest of the Indian party arrives from the West Indies, and if Tendulkar is happy, then so is the whole Indian dressing-room.

This was not grasped by Greg Chappell when he was India’s coach, publicly criticised Tendulkar and dropped him down the one-day batting order.

His successor, Gary Kirsten, did realise, and almost made giving Tendulkar all the throw-downs that he wanted in practice the central part of his job.
India’s new coach, Duncan Fletcher, is sure to be Kirsten-style rather than Chappell when he meets up with the ‘Little Master’ — a title that will be inadequate if the Indian makes an immortal mark on the landmark occasion at Lord’s.
Tendulkar has...
51: the most Test centuries
48: the most one-day international centuries
14,692: the most runs scored in Tests
18,111: the most runs scored in one-day internationals
6: the most centuries in World Cups
1,894: the record number of runs in ODIs in a calendar year (1998)

Tendulkar still inspires me: Dravid

Kingston: He has spent 15 years in International cricket but senior India batsman Rahul Dravid says he continues to be inspired by Sachin Tendulkar, with whom he has starred in 19 Test century stands.

"He's been phenomenal, has had terrific last 2-3 years and possibly done the best batting of his life," said Dravid in his ever-earnest manner after his first practice session in the Caribbean on Friday.

"When I came he had already been around for seven years; he was my captain in West Indies (in 1997) and was a source of great motivation. That motivation has not changed," he added.

India will play three tests against West Indies starting Monday and four against England spread across next two months this summer.

Dravid is the third highest run-scorer of all time, scoring 12,063 Test runs in 150 matches at an average of 52.44. He is also the only batsman to have hit at least one century in all 10 Test playing nations. That's not all, he is also a world-beater with 200 catches.

Yet all this greatness sits lightly on a modest man who still is anxious to compete well for himself and his country.

"I had a seven month time off (from Tests). But I knew about these seven Tests in a row and was ready with my preparations," he said.

"You know you have done enough but there is still a certain pressure; you still feel nervous and there are butterflies (in your stomach). These things never change. It would be nice to get runs early on and keep the form going."

Dravid expects great things from this largely young side which is being led by an extremely capable captain in Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"He (Dhoni) has led very well and done a great job. He exudes calm and his records, be it in Tests, in IPL or in one-day cricket has been phenomenal. His ability to remain calm under pressure is a priceless ability. (The team is) lucky to have a guy who has this kind of quality," he said.

The 38-year-old cricketer is aware that the transitional phase of Indian cricket is at hands and is hopeful that a few of the younger guys would carry the torch forward.

"Over the next year or two, young batsmen should be coming through—like Ganguly, Laxman and I did. Sooner than later, similar young boys would come through and two or three would have similar long careers for the next 15 years. Then the team is going to be in good health," he said.

Dravid hoped he would play a role in this learning curve, sharing his experiences with the younger kids.

"Young kids love to chat and you are always open. There would be opportunity to share this experience over the next seven Tests. It would be great to pass on this knowledge. "Unfortunately, today it's not the nature of cricket to have a lot of practice games ahead of a series. I remember I had six or seven practice games in England and there was so much to learn from the Tendulkars, Manjrekars and Azharuddins of the side.

"Tests are always so stressful but practice games allow you to relax and interact. I don’t know any solution; its tough on kids," he added.

Dravid was particularly keen to do well in Sabina Park, and generally in the Caribbean, for the great charm the region held in his mind while growing up.

"You remember as a kid listening to radio and hearing about Sabina Park; Gavaskar hitting centuries; those fearsome fast bowlers and you dreamt of playing here," he said. "I have now been involved in four Test matches at this venue and I know when I sit back I will be happy about it."

It was at the Sabina Park where he last came as a captain in 2006 and his two half centuries were instrumental in India winning their first series in Caribbean after 35 years.

Dravid rated those two innings of 81 and 68 in a low-scoring game as one of the better knocks of his entire distinguished career.

"It was a very difficult pitch. In the context of the series, it was one of the better Test match innings I have played. In a low-scoring game, anything could have happened. It was most satisfying and in terms of quality, I rate it one of my better innings," he said.

Dravid believed the pitch here for the first Test is going to be extremely testing too.

"This generally has good bounce. Looking at this wicket, it would be a good challenge. They have a good pace attack. We have the bowling and hopefully the guys will make a difference."

Dravid claimed he didn't feel bad he wasn't part of the team which won the World Cup earlier this year and indeed took delight in the achievement of his mates.

"I knew I wasn't playing, I haven't been playing one-day cricket for the last two and a half years. So I didn't feel bad in that sense. I was happy for the team, for Indian cricket as it took 28 long years," he said.

"You feel good for the guys, that you have played with some of these guys and that men like me, Ganguly, Kumble were involved in the system in the past, have had some role to play in this onward journey," he added.

Dravid was evasive in his views on the controversial Umpires Decision Review System (UDRS) which is not being supported by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

"My views really don't matter. In the past I have said that UDRS is going to be used at some stage. Obviously Indian board wants it be consistent, really this is between the ICC and BCCI to sort it out."
Story first published on: Saturday, 18 June 2011 13:11

Tendulkar finds a way to challenge himself || Respect

The newly-appointed West Indies team pyschologist Rudi Webster is now on the long list of Sachin Tendulkar admirers. The pyschologist appreciates Sachin for the way he imposes himself on opponents, situations & various conditions.

Webster said, "Sachin, like any great sportsman or businessman, finds a way to challenge himself. He finds a way to get on top of tricky situations and conditions. But only the very best can manage so.Others must know to spot the situation which needs different responses. They should have that intense concentration to know when they must play against their natural instincts. They must challenge themselves to be flexible."

"Australians, for example, never needled Lara. Lara was an extremely dangerous opponent. As for others, like Sir Garfield Sobers once said, mind more than skills make a difference in their careers.
"There has to be a reason why incredibly talented cricketers don't make it to the top while lesser cricketers achieve more than their skills deserve," he added.

Webster mentions two Indian cricketers -- Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh -- in the same breath as he finds the duo incredibly talented.

"Virender Sehwag is one another incredible talent. I haven't seen many who can time a cricket ball better than him. He too is a cricketer who loves to impose himself on a cricket field. But he would be still a better batsman if he respected conditions and opponents once in a while," he said.

"Yuvraj Singh is another. Not just as a one-day batsman but I feel he should have really made it big in Test cricket. It's just not his timing, his entire talent as a cricketer is striking," feels the Englishman, who played first class cricket for Warwickshire.

The Englishman has been hired by the West Indies Cricket Board to boost the team's morale ahead of the second test against India starting today. India lead the test series 1-0 and are looking to create history by winning the second test at Bridgetown where no Indian team has previously won.

How Sachin tamed temptations to become a legend || Respect

Pune: The thought of bunking practice session and having a go at the spicy, mouth-watering "Vadapav" did cross the mind of the school going Sachin Tendulkar, who had started emerging on the cricketing firmament as an exceptional cricketer.

But it was his extraordinary determination that stood young Tendulkar in good stead to overcome all natural detractions that could have diverted his focus from the game which he later took to sublime heights.

"I too felt like bunking the practice session while in school and go out to eat 'Vadapav' and have fun as most children do. But I never wanted to misuse the freedom given by my father who wanted me to pursue my interest in cricket with full focus and had never bothered me by putting pressure on me to achieve academic success.

"My coach and my brother too ensured that I did not lose my focus from the game which I loved passionately," said the batting legend in an interview telecast by a Marathi television channel.

Offering a glimpse into his making as a cricketer, the 38-year-old cricketer said, "As a professional sportsman it is necessary to imbibe a kind of self-discipline and you cannot eat and drink at will. Who does not want to enjoy life? But one has to know one's limitations and ensure that it (lifestyle) does not affect your performance."

And Tendulkar went on to elaborate his point giving some unbelievable instances that would be regarded as benchmarks in assessing commitment to the game of which became god for his fans.

"The temperature in Ahmedabad where we were to play our World Cup match (quarter-finals against Australia) was going to be very hot. Knowing that I put myself on a bland diet three to four days before the fixture keeping away from all spicy food and non-vegetarian stuff. The purpose was to ensure that the body heat did not increase as it would have been detrimental to performance, coupled with the hot conditions in the field."

Throwing more light on his astonishing fitness regimen and almost clinical measures, Tendulkar narrated how he played his matches in Chennai, another hot and humid cricket venue.

"Keeping one hydrated during the match is important in Chennai because of the hot climate. I used to set an alarm to get up in the middle of night and drink a lot of water to keep myself hydrated with sufficient body fluids before the start of the match."

To a query, he said laughingly, "When in school I found that scoring runs was easier for me than scoring marks. My father recognised my passion for cricket and fully supported me insisting that whatever I do, I should not lose my focus.

"It was something unusual those days in a family like ours to see photographs and news published about a young boy like me. Whenever I did well in tournaments, the only celebration at home was placing some sweets in front of god in the poojaghar. I used to be told to think of the next century."

What was it that he could not accomplish in sporting activities at a young age because of his obsession with cricket?

"I cannot swim. Later whenever coaches tried to teach me swimming I felt panicky whenever water came around my head. I can float and do pool-side exercises," said Tendulkar, betraying human frailties that are not associated with his superhuman image in the game which he has played for over two decades, keeping cricket historians busy without a break.

Story first published on: Sunday, 19 June 2011 11:02

A man of his words || Respect

Sachin keeps word, visits paraplegic centre

Tue Jun 07 2011

Standing true on a promise made to disabled soldiers at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) in Khadki, on April 21, Sachin Tendulkar visited the centre on Monday. The cricketer interacted with some of the basketball players, discus throwers and archer Amol Boriwale whom Sachin will sponsor for the Paralympic trials in Italy in 2011. 

Office Superintendent of the PRC RJ Manickam said, “At the video conference with Sachin on his birthday, he had promised that he would visit the centre. It was a nice gesture on his part that he visited us within a couple of months of the conversation.” 

Tendulkar met basketball players C Y Reddy, A D Pereira and Walsalan Nada and discus player Shymal Raju. Addressing the soldiers, he said, “I am happy that I could come to the city and meet everyone here. A lot of people think that as a sportsperson I am a hero but in reality sportsmen are just entertainers. It is you people who guard the national borders and are the real heroes.”  

Tendulkar also witnessed a basketball match played by the soldiers and planted a sapling at the PRC. As a memorabilia, he autographed a pair of his hand gloves for the soldiers. Speaking about the interaction with Sachin, Raju, who participated in 2004 Paralympics, said, “He is a nice sportsman. He told me to keep trying harder and participate in more competitions irrespective of the results.” 

Tendulkar, who also brought two boxes of mangoes for the soldiers, made it a point to sign autographs for everyone. “I am really proud of the spirit of the people present here. I have come here as part of my promise but I would love to come back again. In fact, next time I will bring my children. I remember being told that you all had prayed for the team to win the World Cup in April and it was due to your good wishes that we managed to do so.”  

Tendulkar also mentioned that he will sponsor Boriwale’s trials for the Paralympics. Boriwale said he was happy meeting Sachin and getting his support. Earlier in the day, Tendulkar visited Amit Enterprises housing project, Amit Colori, where he planted 99 saplings to commemorate the 99 centuries that he had scored.

Husain's gift to SRT