Among the thousands sitting in the Sachin Tendulkar Stand yesterday, anticipating a big score from Sachin Tendulkar, was a man who batted with the batting genius on his first-class debut at the Wankhede Stadium.
Like Tendulkar, Talpade was making his debut for Mumbai against Gujarat in 1988. Left-hander Talpade, who is now back in India after spending several years in New Zealand, walked into bat when the then 15-year-old prodigy was on the cusp of becoming the youngest Indian to score a century in the Ranji Trophy.
Yesterday, Talpade, who had just watched his former batting partner depart for 74 – caught at slip by Darren Sammy off Narsingh Deonarine — recalled that Tendulkar had displayed the same kind of hunger in 1988.
“He was batting on 95 and I suggested to him that he should just get his hundred through singles. But he stepped out and drove (left-arm spinner Bharat Mistry) for four (a single got him his hundred). I was amazed. I walked up to congratulate him and he didn’t celebrate very much, giving me the impression that there will be more hundreds to come,” said Talpade.
“There is absolutely no change in his batting — the attitude and hunger for runs. The strokeplay he displayed today is just the same as it was 25 years ago in 1988. Nothing’s changed. Back then he was eager to get every run like he was today. Then, it hardly mattered to him that it was his first game – he just wanted to score. Today, he was not playing, thinking this is his last match. He played naturally and did well,” said Talpade.
The 47-year-old recalled his first meeting with Tendulkar. “I first met Sachin when he was 14. He had come to get a feel of things during the BCA (Bombay Cricket Association) Colts vs Sharjah Colts game at Wankhede Stadium. The late Dilip Sardesai introduced him to me. Sardesai said to him in Marathi, “batcha vazan ani tuza vazan same disto (the weight of the bat and your weight seems to be the same).” Sachin just smiled.
A year later, Talpade discovered the 15-year-old Tendulkar making his first-class debut for Mumbai in the same match as him — against Gujarat. He recalled: “I scored seven back-to-back hundreds (four for PJ Hindu Gymkhana and three for MB Union CC) and only then made it to the Mumbai team as a No 7 batsman. And here was Sachin — only 15 — ready to bat at No 4.”
They last met at Auckland in 1999 and with Tendulkar all set to be cricket-free, a reunion could be on the cards.