The batting legend’s love-affair with the Wankhede Stadium started when Kelkar selected Tendulkar and his childhood chum Vinod Kambli for ball boy duties outside the boundary line. During the October 17, 1987 ODI between India and Zimbabwe, it was the first World Cup match that Sachin watched in a stadium.
It is often said that Tendulkar never forgets those who have made a contribution to his cricketing career. It was quite evident on Saturday as the batting maestro immediately recognised Kelkar, and stopped for a while to exchange pleasantries. Kelkar, on administrative duty at the Mumbai Cricket Association for the Indian Premier League, praised Tendulkar’s down-to-earth nature in spite of all the fame and adulation. “This is his greatness (Tendulkar). I haven’t done anything great (giving him an opportunity to be a ball boy), but he doesn’t forget the smallest of the things,” Kelkar told MiD DAY.
According to Kelkar, only under-16 boys ‘qualified’ for ball boy duties, but he was keen on recruiting Tendulkar and Kambli because of their exploits in inter-school matches. “I see the same thrill and expression on his face that I saw when he first entered this stadium. Cricket is his only life,” Kelkar signed off.
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