It was a day to honour the legendary Sachin Tendulkar on the eve of his farewell Test at the Wankhede Stadium, and the batting maestro obliged everyone with a smile!
First, it was the groundsmen, who felicitated the batting icon before the Indian team hit the nets. They presented him a bouquet and posed for a photograph. Some of the groundsmen, who know Tendulkar ever since he first played at the Wankhede in his maiden Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat in 1988, were seen exchanging pleasantries with their hero.
“Tendulkar asked me whether I have applied make up before posing for the picture,” quipped senior groundsmen Lalsuram Jaiswal. Next in line were journalists. As soon as India’s three-hour practice session was over, Tendulkar was taken to an impromptu set-up at the ground for a photo opportunity with the sports scribes. Over 50 journos were present to cover the practice session on the eve of the second Test against the West Indies.
Tendulkar was made aware of a few senior journalists, who covered his maiden Test in Pakistan in 1989, and will also be a part of his landmark 200th Test today. Amazingly Tendulkar recalled a few more journalists, who were present for the Karachi Test.
“I also keep a track of these things,” he said even as the scribes burst into laughter. Tendulkar thanked the media for supporting him throughout his career and was presented a couple of greeting cards and a Lata Mangeshkar audio CD. Tendulkar is a huge fan of the veteran singer.
Cricketers turn volunteers
The high demand for tickets for the second Test has forced many of the city’s club cricketers to become volunteers in order to catch a glimpse of Sachin Tendulkar playing live for the last time. Over a dozen club cricketers were spotted in the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) office yesterday to make their volunteer passes for the match. “Tickets are not available and if they are, they’re being sold at a premium. So, this is the only way to watch Tendulkar at the Wankhede for the last time. We may not be able to watch the entire match as we will have to fulfill the responsibilities given to us by MCA, but we’ll witness history anyway,” a cricketer told MiD DAY. Meanwhile, the MCA is trying hard to accommodate its U-14 cricketers as ball boys around the boundary ropes.
Behave, says MCA
Considering the frenzy surrounding Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th Test at the Wankhede, fans at the venue are expected to be on a emotional high. However, one of the biggest fears for MCA officials is the reaction of the crowd if Tendulkar fails to live up to the high expectations in his final game. “We want the crowd to be disciplined irrespective of whether Tendulkar performs or not. They should remember that this is a momentous occasion for the whole country and act accordingly,” MCA vice president Ravi Savant told MiD DAY yesterday.
1989 team invited
It’s not just the MCA, but the BCCI too, who are leaving no stone unturned in preparing for Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell match. It is learnt that Tendulkar’s teammates from his maiden tour to Pakistan in 1989 have been invited by BCCI for the batting maestro’s 200th Test. Tendulkar was just 16 when he toured Pakistan — the youngest player to make an international debut.
Sachin Tendulkar is expected to throw a farewell party on November 18, the last day of the Mumbai Test, for select friends, well wishers and teammates, it is learnt.