Srinath, who had batsmen on the tenterhooks when in full flow, lavished praise on Tendulkar and had the house in ruptures, fishing out anecdotes from the time the duo shared in the dressing room in the 1990s and early 2000s.
“I have seen a more serious side of Sachin. Yes, he has a sense of humour. He was a big presence in the dressing room, so at times even average jokes would get huge laughs,” said Srinath, inviting a round of laughter.
It may be recalled, that it was during Tendulkar’s captaincy that Srinath was introduced as a pinch hitter, and the paceman from Karnataka was surprised at this call. “Sachin asking me to bat at No 3 was something else.
It’s because of this that we managed to share some partnerships. What separated Sachin from others was his ability to read the bowlers. He would tell me to be prepared for a certain delivery and invariably the bowler would end up bowling that.
“But there were times when he got it wrong and when I looked at him quizzically, he would say” ‘Dimag tera hai (you have brains). I can’t do everything got you!’ I would be looking at him in shock after that.”
Tendulkar was a demanding captain especially in his first stint between 1996-97 and there were times when Srinath was driven up the wall. “He would stand in the slips and say bahar daal, bahar daal, indicating I should deliver out swingers.
There were times when I could not succeed and ended up reacting in exasperation. “During those days he felt everyone in the team was as good as him. That’s why he reacted that way.
But, when he was made captain for the second time, he understood that he was dealing with players who were not as talented as him and he showed more patience with them.”
When SRT did not cry
Srinath also recalled an episode from the 1996 World Cup when India were dumped by Sri Lanka in the semi-finals.
“Everyone was shocked after the match and about five to six players were crying. It was contagious because if you did not cry, your commitment to the team was questioned!
“I was not among those crying, but just to pretend, I picked up a towel and went over to Tendulkar who was showing no emotions. I told him about the atmosphere and he shot back, why should I cry? We lost because we did not play well,” Srinath said.
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