Everyone knew Sachin was a rare talent
He had come to the MRF Pace Foundation (Chennai) for trials which I was a part of too. He batted in the nets against the fast bowlers. I have known him since then. We met again in the Irani Trophy which was played at the Wankhede Stadium where he scored a hundred in the second innings. I also picked up a few wickets in that match. From the very first Test, he was a certainty in the playing XI. He was given a lot of confidence. Everyone knew he was a different player… a rare talent. Everything was right about him. The hunger and focus was unmatched.
That hit from Waqar...
Tendulkar got hit on the nose by Waqar Younis at Sialkot and was bleeding profusely. The team was in a very precarious position at that time. Had Tendulkar retired hurt we could have gone on to lose the Test match. But he stood his ground, scored a half-century and saved the Test match for
India. Now, here was a 16-year-old boy with that sort of commitment. It was commendable. We have seen players do such things, but it wasn’t expected from a 16-year-old. That set him apart. There wasn’t much discussion in our dressing room. The discussion was more between the Pakistani players, advising Tendulkar to go out of the ground. But he showed commitment. He understood the position the team was in and it was an ideal example of team before self.
‘Why are they praising me?’
After the game, we all had a word with him. He was like a younger brother to everyone. All that he said was: “Yes, I know I got hurt. But at that point of time my team required me and that’s what I have done. Why is everybody praising me? Anybody who plays for the team would have done the same.” That was incredible. He showed tremendous maturity for a 16-year-old.
During the tour we were not allowed to go out of the hotel due to security concerns. So, the only entertainment for us was to enjoy ourselves in the room. We would all gather in the captain’s (K Srikkanth) room to fool around. Somebody would apply lipstick or put a tie across your forehead and throw some jokes at each other. Sachin, Salil (Ankola) and I were the youngest of the lot on that tour, so everybody would poke fun at us. We were not able to respond properly because if a Kapil Dev, Srikkanth or Ravi Shastri would make fun of us, we wouldn’t know to what extent we could say anything. We did not know how the seniors would take it, so most of the time we would be expressionless.
Trio of friends
He is shy, but he is not the same with everyone. Once he gets friendly, then you really know the real side of Tendulkar.
He is an entertainer. He has a terrific sense of humour. He is a man of few words, but he has got a perfect timing. Since Salil and I also made our debut with him, we were all comfortable with each other.
‘A star is born’
When Tendulkar was going after leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, Abdul Qadir made a comment: “Bachche se chakke kha raha hai (you are getting hit for sixes by a kid). I’ll show you how to bowl.” And then Tendulkar hit Qadir for an even bigger six. He just clapped at Tendulkar and while walking off, I heard him say:
“A star is born”.