Sachin Tendulkar breaks down at Ramakant Achrekar's last rites

Jan 04, 2019, 07:35 IST | Harit N Joshi and Subodh Mayure

Emotional Sachin Tendulkar breaks down during coach Ramakant Achrekar's final journey at Kamath Memorial pitch, where master blaster took his first cricketing steps

Sachin Tendulkar breaks down at Ramakant Achrekar's last rites
India's cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar in tears before the funeral of his childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar at the Kamath Memorial Cricket Club pitch, Shivaji Park yesterday. Pics/Ashish Raje

Kamath Memorial Cricket Club at Shivaji Park is a special place in Sachin Tendulkar's heart. It is here that he learnt the nuances of the game and perfected the art of cricket under Ramakant Achrekar, who passed away on Wednesday. Practice always gave Tendulkar immense joy. But yesterday, Kamath Memorial was not a happy place to be in for the cricket icon. Achrekar's body was taken from his home to Kamath Memorial before the van headed to the nearby crematorium at Dadar.

Young cricketers raise their bats in a guard of honour yesterday
Young cricketers raise their bats in a guard of honour yesterday

All too sad
Tendulkar couldn't stop his tears. He was so used to seeing his coach active, proactive, animated and in good space at Kamath Memorial. Yesterday was different as Achrekar lay peacefully amidst his students — the most gifted of cricketers, the most hardworking of cricketers, the toughest among Mumbai cricketers — Tendulkar himself, Vinod Kambli, Balvinder Singh Sandhu, Chandrakant Pandit, Pravin Amre, Paras Mhambrey, Sameer Dighe and Naresh Churi, who represented the country in school cricket.

It's safe to assume that Tendulkar's mind was flooded with memories while taking the pradakshina around Achrekar's body. It may have felt like coming back to your favourite classroom in school, sitting on your bench and watch your loving teacher all set to take his final journey. Tendulkar was seen crying when the young cricketers chanted, 'Achrekar Sir amar rahe'.

Atul Ranade (extreme left), Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli and Chandrakant Pandit at the funeral
Atul Ranade (top left left), Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli and Chandrakant Pandit at the funeral

For you, Sir
They raised their bats in a guard of honour as the cortege exited Shivaji Park. The U-14 Kamath Memorial cricketers then got ready for their match to begin against Ghatkopar Club. The boys from both teams were part of the Salaam Bombay Foundation. However, much to their disappointment, the match was called off as the groundsman could not prepare the pitch.

"We were aware that Sir had passed away, but we were told that the match may take place. I will now take them for a practice session," said Rohit Karhadkar, who manages Ghatkopar Club. Tendulkar's face truly reflected his grief. It's a day he'd probably like to erase from memory. Goodbyes are always hard.

Ramakant Achrekar cremated: Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli bid tearful adieu

Balvinder Singh Sandhu, one of  Achrekar's earliest students
Balvinder Singh Sandhu, one of Achrekar's earliest students

Former India players Ramesh Powar and Paras Mhambrey at Shivaji Park yesterday
Former India players Ramesh Powar and Paras Mhambrey at Shivaji Park yesterday

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