I was keeping wicket for Rajasthan Sports Club in that ‘A’ division game. Sachin’s audacity surprised me. Not only was Pradeep bowling quick, he also had a reputation and was in the midst of a good spell. A few deliveries earlier, Pradeep had clean bowled Sandeep Patil, who should have been out the previous ball when I dropped an easy chance.
The only reason why Pradeep did not admonish me was because I was leading the team. I don’t remember how much Sachin scored in that 1988 drawn game, but I will never ever forget the six. That was not the last time we played against each other. There were a few other occasions, but each time I saw him, he looked a different player.
We had Vinod Kambli playing for us that year and I remember telling Vinod in the train while returning home that evening, ‘do you guys hit the ball so far just by eating vada pavs?’ I also told him, ‘yeh Ajit ka bhai kitna acha batting karta hain.’
I never used to call him Sachin. To me, he was ‘Ajit ka bhai.’ I knew Ajit from his Ruia College days and mind you, Sachin’s defence is just like Ajit’s. Recently, Sachin’s son Arjun came to play in Kalyan. He came over to my house and mingled with my family so freely.
He loved the place and expressed his desire to spend some more time here. I was amazed at his humility. After all, he lives in a luxurious house. But then, being humble is part of the Tendulkar family’s culture.
A little more than a week ago, I met Ajit at the funeral of Hemant Waingankar and one of the first questions he asked me was whether I still stay in Kalyan and continue to serve Central Bank of India.
* The author has claimed a record 202 victims behind the stumps in Kanga League