We met 32 years ago at the Wankhede Stadium during the Mumbai under-15 trials. Both of us did not make the cut. Next year, we did.
We also played against each other in the Giles Shield final and my team (Don Bosco) lost. Shardarshram had a superb team with Vinod Kambli, Mayur Kadrekar and others, but clearly one could see that the leader of that bunch was Sachin.
He is very good at getting a team together and backing his players through tough times. Once, he made it very clear to me that I was his first choice for No 3 irrespective of whether Mumbai had a full strength team or not.
I don’t think he has got enough credit for his captaincy. He has a way with players and you can see the amount of good he has done to Viru, Yuvi, Bhajji, Dhoni and even Virat Kohli’s generation. Ask any one of them about this aspect and I guarantee it will be a long conversation.
From the first time I saw him bat, his judgment of length was impeccable, doing exactly what my father (Vasu) always told me, “pudcha ball pudhe, pathcha ball pathi.”
Sachin has played so many scorchers, so many match-winning innings. ‘Experts’ who talk about him not winning enough games for India need to go to a vipassana centre to introspect!
One of his hundreds in one of the age group tournaments for Mumbai was scored when the matting was so tight that the ball bounced alarmingly.
He changed his stance a little, got on his toes, and played a shot a ball. I still remember the sound of the ball on the sandy outfield, whizzing away to the ropes. He tended to get out to full tosses a lot.
I also remember his bat (SG Skipper with a fibre face). The middle of that stick had taken a serious beating and he would glue the broken chips together while I had to do that for my outside edge!
As a viewer, I remember every shot of his from the 1998 Sharjah knocks. Sadly, I do not remember many from his Herculean double century against Tamil Nadu which helped us get into the Ranji Trophy final in 2000 as I was sitting in the dressing room all the time, given the team’s superstitious ways.
Even in that game, he kept saying in the dressing room, “we will win, just see, we will win.” We won, and we had our post-match meal of biryani, and then went out to practice again. That’s Mumbai cricket for you.
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