When a memory pops up on your social media feed, you either share with those who were involved or look at it and agonise as the horror of what went down truly hits you.
In both situations, the memory takes you back to that day, that moment, that feeling where everything related to that moment, surfaces. Whether one laughs, cries or tries to hide it from others, the memory won’t ever fade away. One such memory that I have, is of Sachin Tendulkar.
March 1, 2003, was a Saturday. I had an exam on Monday and I was preparing for the same. In the afternoon, I decided to “take a break”, one that stretched till late evening.
As to what was the reason for my prolonged break? Well, India was playing Pakistan at the World Cup. English literature could wait but this couldn’t have. It was a marquee match and a lot depended on the outcome of this game. Like countless others, I wasn’t going to miss this.
Pakistan batted first and posted a formidable score of 276/7. At that time, any score above 250 was considered match-winning. It was a challenging total for India as Pakistan had quality bowlers such as Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar.
Accompanied by Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar walked out in the middle to open the batting for India. He must have felt the pressure of millions of eyes that were tracking each and every move of his as he took guard.
He knew, as did all of us, that a big score would be crucial to India’s chances. The first overcame and went. In steamed Shoaib Akhtar to deliver the second over.
Akhtar ran in with his raw pace as his long locks flew in the breeze. Everyone knew what was coming; a vicious bouncer. The ball delivered at express speed leapt spitefully off the surface.
Any other batsman would have defensively poked at it. Tendulkar slapped it on the off-side and the crowd went wild as the ball sailed over the boundary.
Virender Sehwag, who was watching the proceedings from the other end, laughingly reminded Akhtar as to whom he was up against as the distraught Pakistani speedster returned to his mark.
Akhtar returned with the same pace but Tendulkar had different plans as he smashed him to all parts of the ground. One of those shots included an upper-cut for a six.
I had completely forgotten that Yuvraj Singh scored a half-century in the very same fixture and Rahul Dravid hit the winning run. However, what I retained over the years, was the six from Tendulkar. He scored 98 from 75 deliveries, but that one shot… makes me nostalgic.
That’s the thing about memories, they endure. They allow you to revel in one moment, devoid of any context. Never mind what happened before or what happened next, you always remember that one moment.
Over the years, Sachin Tendulkar has gone on to give so many such memories that if you try to recall a few, the list will be endless. From switching off the television when he got out in the terrible 90s, to cheering wildly for every run he scored.
From collectively losing our minds as he launched an onslaught on the South African bowlers en route to scoring the maiden double century in men’s ODI cricket to shedding a tear when he raised his bat heavenwards and paid a heartfelt tribute to his recently deceased father.
Desert Storm, his bowling miracle in the Hero Cup, and who can forget the chants in the stadium, “Sachin, Sachin.” The living legend has been an emotion for Indians.
No matter what the struggles, no matter what the detractors say, no matter what criticisms have been levelled against him over time, each of those memories will remain perfect in isolation.
For others, he is a batsman who hit a six. For me, that’s my childhood. What more could one want from an entertainer?
(Featured Image: FB: Shoaib Akhtar)
About the Author
Vishnu Rao is a freelance writer and a content creator based in Bengaluru. He loves sports with a passion and is currently dreaming of authoring a book on Wrestling