74 it is.. 74 priceless runs by the LITTLE MASTER in what might probably be his last test innings. 74 runs which served as a glimpse of the years gone by. An innings filled with all of his trademark shots. Fittingly SAMMY didn’t celebrate after taking the catch even as the whole crowd went into silent mode. It seemed as if time had come to a standstill.
There will always be arguments as to whether he was the greatest batsman of all time. For once let comparisons be set aside. It’s time to celebrate the genius for what he has given us over the years.
My journey with Tendulkar started way back in 1996 when he set the cricketing world on fire. It was during his century against SRILANKA in a world cup league match that I had my first fleeting glimpse of SACHIN. I wasn’t a cricket fan back then so it was a mere glimpse but by the time world cup ended I was a cricket addict.
It was the tour to ENGLAND after the WORLD CUP that aptly sums up SACHIN’s prime. It actually started with yet another defeat abroad. The whole batting crumbled as TENDULKAR hit another defiant hundred. It was yet another lone warrior act of the little master. Hardcore critics of SACHIN tend to conveniently forget the fact that he had to struggle with a set of mediocre bowlers in his own team for most of his prime.
Trust me it is not an easy task to live up to the expectations of a nation every time you walk into bat. It is not an easy burden to carry. There is a reason why we call him the GOD of cricket because he’s delivered almost every time. The occasional lapses if any can be forgiven.
He can weave his magic with the ball too. There isn’t a ball he cannot bowl. Who can forget the HERO CUP final over. He was a good fielder in his hey days as well. We rarely get cricketers who are a complete package. Tendulkar was one of them.
Agreed he averages just 36 in the last couple of years but that’s better than what most of his contemporaries’ average over their entire career. The impact of TENDULKAR isn’t measured by sheer numbers. He’s been a walking inspiration in the dressing room and to his legion of fans spread over the entire nation.
By mere coincidence I had the chance of watching every one of his last 74 runs without blinking my eye. It served as a reminder of what I would be missing in the coming days. The sheer joys of watching the warrior take guard against the best of bowlers and dominating them.
Let the critics lie to rest as the sun sets on a glorious career. It is time for a royal salute as the future number 3 and 4 take guard. To me he will always remain the greatest batsman of this era alongside RAHUL DRAVID.