Sachin Tendulkar endured some Hyderabad blues and some Mumbai magic all in the space of a few hours yesterday. He was scheduled to be at Mumbai’s Cricket Club of India for the 6 pm book launch of Raj Singh Dungarpur – A Tribute compiled by Samar Singh and Harsh Vardhan (published by Popular Prakashan).
Sachin Tendulkar releases a book on the late Raj Singh Dungarpur at the Cricket Club of India yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble.
However his flight from Hyderabad was delayed because of a technical snag. Meanwhile host Rajdeep Sardesai, the television personality, did well to keep the tributes to Raj Singh, the former BCCI president, flowing through personalities on the dais and some from the audience.
The understatement of the evening was heard when a speaker, sensing the buzz at the entrance of the CK Nayudu Hall, uttered innocently at 8:30 pm, “somebody’s come.”
Tendulkar was apologetic: “First of all, sorry for being late here and thanks for your patience. I’ve never had such mixed feelings in my life. First was the most disturbing one — that the flight was getting delayed.
It was most frustrating after that. After every half an hour they kept telling us that they are working on the aircraft. I tried to move my flight and tried to get the other flight which also apparently had technical problems. “Well, the last feeling was the best one — being able to be here and hold this book. It gives me tremendous joy.”
Tendulkar couldn’t resist waxing eloquent on the late Raj Singh, who as then chairman of selectors in 1989, picked him as a 16-year-old to tour Pakistan.
“I know exactly how big a role Rajbhai played in my life to make me the cricketer that I am,” said Tendulkar. The retired batting master also spoke about the time when Raj Singh informed him that he wouldn’t be part of the Indian team.
“The media were discussing whether I should be on the tour of West Indies (1988-89). I was preparing to play the Ranji Trophy semi-finals and Rajbhai called me aside and said, ‘I want you to just focus on Ranji Trophy right now. I know there is talk whether you should be part of the Indian team or not. Let me tell you now that you will not go to the West Indies. Once you have finished with the Ranji Trophy, make sure you appear for your SSC exams’.”