A reserved kid barely 7 years old, I struggled to make a place for myself in my peer group.
I did not have the courage to go out there and announce to the 'cool confident' people, that this is me.. I also want to play with you.
I was too reserved and gawky to do that.

Each day, I would think I'll join my neighbours the next day and each day would pass.
Looking outside the window every night, a jambul tree swayed and the air made shrill noises. 
I looked outside each night and prayed for a day when I play the game that I loved the most, with 'them'.
But it just did not seem to happen.

The day has come. History has once again been made.
He is the superman from India. The man of the century.

The date : 16th March, 2012.
The name : Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
The record : A 100 international 100s.

Till yesterday, there were illiterates having an opinion on Sachin Tendulkar.
People were advising him on how his future should be handled.
Spare a thought gentlemen, he has spent 23 years in this profession and is by far the most unparalleled icon the world has ever produced.
Today, the ever so incorrigible Nasser Hussain, said he should be placed above Sir Don Bradman for there is no doubt that when it comes to longevity, consistency & brilliance, even the Don could not come close.
The country has been in a delirium since 5 pm today.
Festivals being celebrated, sweets distributed across the nation.
The same media houses , the same cricket illiterates who asked for his head till yesterday come up with nothing else on them but Sachin.
There are aartis being performed  on the news channels. Bloody hypocrites.
Kapil Dev(please refer to my previous blog post), pops up on the TV today, sticks out his head & says, "Sachin is a legend, looking at him, I want him to play, to continue & maybe score 15 more."
What an irony!

But what I witnessed today, isn't something I would like to dampen with the pedestrian opinions of media houses.
I do not have a memory of Sachin Tendulkar when he played first  in 1989.
I was too young to assimilate the genius of the man then.
The first I saw of him was 1993 world cup, where he made a couple of 50s.
I liked his name then. The sound of Ten-dul-kar felt nice.
Through the next 6 years, he became not just mine, but the country's obsession.
The 'desert storm' innings is a part of the folklore now.

15 years down the line, I am going to, like millions of others, tell my kid : "Hey look, you wanna know what dedication, hardwork & patriotism is? Watch this.. the desert storm...on youtube(provided google doesn't go bust by then)"

His ferocity for runs at 39 is something which people have at 23.
His popularity is such that Shah Rukh Khan would be embarrassed if he and Sachin ever shared the stage.
Despite all this, he chooses to be mum, polite & humble all the time.
Through the 23 years, people have taunted him, ridiculed and slighted him with terms like
'Endulkar', he has remained the same humble, mellow person.
Everytime he replied, but only with his bat.
Not once in his 23 years did I ever hear him using expletives or retorting angrily to the raucous media.
The endulkar was predicted by the media and cricket pundits in 1996.
Some of those people must be in their graves by now.
Sachin has continued 16 years after that and mind you, like a star.

People come up with all kinds of false statistics saying that whenever he scores a ton, India loses.
Out of his 49 ODI 100s till date, India has won 33, lost 14, drawn 1, no result 1.

The true measure of his following is illustrated by the below video.
This was shot at my workplace today.
Despite hectic work, people chose to stop, pause & come to watch their hero.
They came to a place where they would otherwise not go to.
We went to the drivers' retiring room in the multi-level-parking-lot. That's the only place a television is available.
The small room was filled to capacity.
People trickled in when Sachin reached 50 and stayed on exactly till he got out.
Even the 'helicopter baba' in the slog overs couldn't keep the crowd on. People left as soon as Sachin got out.

Check out the feverish adulation that this man got. Scroll to 2 mins & 59 seconds directly because this video isn't particularly a short one.

Please excuse the poor quality of the video and the bad angles. Shooting through the crowd was a challenge.

A 100 100s and look at his reaction in HD now.
Muted, satisfied and content. His trademark 'look-to-the-sky' also a part of it.
Don't miss the uncharacteristic tap on his helmet, showing something to the dressing room.
Check the video at 0:23 seconds for this.
He is almost saying, this milestone is for an Indian to achieve (tapping the helmet pointing to the Indian flag).
His interview after reaching the milesone.
It's true when they say that you don't realize a person's worth till he is long gone.
But this man isn't yet gone. He is amidst us.
We live the spectacle every time he comes on field.
We watch him in awe, we adore him, we can't get enough of him.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, you have achieved the unthinkable.
Live on. Rock on.
Today I ran into a young opinionated guy at my work, who accidentally drew me into a discussion on my hero.
Sachin Tendulkar, ladies and gentlemen, needs no introduction.

A simple google search for his name would yield 36 million results.
Roger Federer returns 35 million results.

So my friends not in the know of cricket would know what they are reading about.

Ok, to cut a long story short, there have been a lot of discussions in the last month about Sachin Tendulkar hanging up his boots.
The critics, some from the famed cricketing world and some lame(like the bubbly young stag I ran into at work today), are demanding his head on basis of non-performance.

I want to write an open letter to them and let the ghost to rest for the time being.
So here goes :

Dear Sachin detractor,

Taking into consideration, your frustrations & constant bickering on social platforms, on media, both TV & print, I want to discuss with you the logic of your superfluous arguments.

1. You want Sachin to leave because he hasn't performed in Australia.

May I remind you, most of you were wetting your panties when he played in Australia first.
He just had his first ODI tour after the World cup last year. In the previous year, he has played 0 ODIs, so the bad performance of the last 5 ODIs is isolated.
This isn't in line with your constant ranting about prolonged non-performance.
In his last outing in the world cup, he was the second highest scorer of the tournament, coming second only by 18 runs.
It's time you re-looked your allegations.

2. You think young talent in India is blocked of opportunity because Sachin is hanging on to his spot.

Well, let's get it straight, straight away.
He isn't blocking anyone's slot. Currently, there is no one who is able to topple him and take his place.
When he was 16, he came like a lightening and blazed his way into the team.
He played at #6 for India, his performances spoke for him & made it to the opening slot.
He had no godfathers like current dumb & non performing players like Ravindra Jadeja have in MS. Dhoni.
And trust me, I am completely in my senses & my heart isn't taking precedence over my brain when I say this :
Who in Indian cricket can replace SRT even with his current form?
And I am referring to youngsters.
You cannot give a chance to youngsters just because they are young. They also need to perform.
Jadeja, Raina, Rohit Sharma have been given umpteen chances, none of them have performed.
This way, I am beginning to fancy my chances of getting into the Indian team.
Come on, for God's sake.
If you give me 20 chances, I can at least do better than Rohit Sharma.

3. You need to groom a team for 2015, so get Sachin out

What nonsense? He has played international cricket for 23 years now. For God's sake can 20 odd year people stop advising him?
In just his last tournament he was the second highest run scorer in the world in ODI cricket.
And just 5 ODIs later, you say, he is old?
Mind you, if you need to groom a team, then take Gambhir, Sehwag, Zaheer, Irfaan, Yousouf & MSD out too.
They too might not be around till then.
What you would be left with is a bunch of sitting ducks who would go and get killed on the pitch.
Then people would say, there is no experience to guide them.

I am done with people like you.
If you have the stats to prove, call me, we'll discuss, else keep your pie-holes shut.

Now, coming to the so-called established greats who are calling for his head.
We'll start with this gentleman Kapil Dev.

He says, Sachin should have retired after the world cup.
My question to him is : Why the hell?
He was comfortable, his body was responding well, he felt like playing more, he was the second highest scorer in the world cup. Why should he have retired?
And look who's talking?
KD, I know you were one of the best 'in your era'.
You reached the landmark of 400 test wickets in 1992.
Since then, you huffed and puffed for 3 long painful years to reach this personal milestone.
You took 34 wickets in 3 years.
Harbhajan Singh took 31 in one series in 2001.
The whole team had to offer you crutches to cross the finish line.
Azharuddin had to instruct Kumble to bowl outside the leg stump in the final match so that you could take your 434th victim.
You were in the team as an all-rounder, forget a 100, you did not score a fifty in your last 105 matches.
You prolonged your non-performance for 3 years and now you have developed the balls to question another great who had offered his unflinching support to his country for 23 years.

Agreed, you were great, you were up there & now you are nowhere.
The need to grab eyeballs has gotten better of you. You are the Rakhi Sawant of cricket.

I feel bad desecrating you, but you asked for it.

Now, the next offender:
Sanjay Manjrekar

He has been whining since 4 years now about Sachin's form and every year he gets a slap on his face from Sachin's bat. I think it is blasphemous even to compare him with Sachin.

Have a look at his stats. It's a joke to even compare them
         Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 37 61 6 2043 218 37.14 5282 38.67 4 9 220 1 25 1
ODIs 74 70 10 1994 105 33.23 3101 64.30 1 15 99 10 23 0

He has scored 5 hundreds all his life, tests + ODIs.
Sachin scored 9 in 1998 alone.
Sachin has scored 99 hundreds in all.

Stack up his 8000 runs against Sachin Tendulkar's 33000 runs & you'll know why the dogs bark.

One last offender, this time from down under.
Ian Chappell.

He too is of the Manjrekar league, has been whining for a long while now.

Again, I will spare myself the pain. Check out his stats :

          Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 75 136 10 5345 196 42.42 14 26 15 105 0
ODIs 16 16 2 673 86 48.07 874 77.00 0 8 74 7 5 0

At best, he is an average Australian player, let alone international.

There is one thing common in the above people. They make a living by desecrating Sachin Tendulkar.

To me, Sachin Tendulkar is the man who captured the imagination of a nation worth a billion people.
He became the hero when there was poverty and lawlessness all around.
People needed a hero. He stood up.

He could bind India like nothing could.
The country came to a standstill every time he walked out to bat. They would turn off their TV sets once he got out.
He has been the one for 23 years.

In his twilight, he at least deserves a rational farewell.
He is not the one who will hang around just because he is making money.
He has had enough of it all his life.
He was the one who stood up and said, I will not play T20 for India, because it's a youngsters game and I don't fit in.
Be rest assured, he won't rob anyone of his place in the team.
At least stop being ungrateful bastards, and give him his due right to decide his retirement.

We are a selfish lot, and I am ashamed.

The end for him may not be far ahead, but a true human, a true sports person & a great role model deserves better from a selfish nation.

I had this status message on FB when he made his 50th test ton :
"I won't bow specially for this one, because I have been in that position since 1989".
All respect to you sir.

A Sachin Tendulkar fan.
I thought I wouldn’t write this at this unearthly hour. Its 1:30 AM. But I would lie to myself if I thought I could sleep without putting my words in writing. The match refuses to get out of my mind.

Home sweet home,
1:30 AM,
technically 6th November.

Me, Abhishek, Alankar and Sankar set out from office in the afternoon. We were disappointed with India’s bowling effort which cost us 350 runs.
We thought we would watch Sehwag blasting the bowlers and leave the stadium once Sachin got out.
But boy, God(the real God) proves everytime and rightly so that we humans are just dust. We have no idea about whats gonna happen the next second, and we start planning big things like we have taken over from him.
What awaited us was not thought about by the billion minds in India and the paltry number of minds that exist down under.

If ever there was total hysteria, if ever there was utopia, if ever heaven existed then it was here, here in my city, here in Hyderabad.
The 5 feet 5 inch man came close to the real God when he started waving his magic wand. The wand which earlier was a MRF and now is an Adidas.
But if it were just for the 2 companies, then it wouldn’t have created 31,000 runs. The man has magical skull deep under which exists a brain that is unfathomable by human intelligence.
The brain that can bamboozle Ricky Ponting in sleep mode, the brain that can traumatize the number 1 team in the world, the brain that can make a daunting 350 look like a college team score.
The brain that is the lifeline of a billion hearts.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, he is still the man India looks upto.

Two decades after he rose to dizzying heights, he is still climbing up the stairs. If ever there were a CRR for him, he would blow the CRR meter. 1+ is pittance.

The crowd of 60,000 was a puppet in his hands. When a catch is taken by him, the crowd billows like they have triumphed over an alien planet. When he waves back in reciprocation, they miss a heartbeat.

To any person watching it on TV, I would sound pompous, I would sound like an idiot who is writing peans in his name.
But to me, it was the one of most memorable evenings ever. I have never seen a cricket match more exciting, I have never seen an innings more flawless.

Critics don’t deserve a mention, so I am sparing myself the pain. Chuck the critics.
He remains unparalleled after 20 years.
This man still commands the country.

After the match ceremony was over, he was the last cricketer leaving the field. I had been cheering for him and India all through the day. My throat was sore, my eyes tired and my heart disappointed. But one last time, I pulled in enough air in my lungs and yelled
”Love you Sachin”.

He might or might not have heard me, but the feeling of contentment I had at the risk of sounding gay is everything to me.

Cricket is his life, but he has grown too big for it.
He made my day, he made India’s day.
That man, Sachin Tendulkar, is still the one.

- An absolutely awe struck fan of 20 years who was witness to his 186 and 175 at Hyderabad.

PS : The loss India suffered disappointed me, but I take heart that my country tried and tried so hard that it beat the daylights out of Ricky Ponting.