World Today by Binay Srivastava

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Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar

He entered the field, he played and he conquered. None predicted, until he proved, that someday a guy next door would hit so big, that he will be accredited as the god of cricket. This guy was Sachin Tendulkar.

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Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was born on 24 April 1973.  He is regarded as the greatest batsman of the world of cricket till now; he popularly holds the title of “the Messiah of Cricket” among his fans. He is also acknowledged as the cricketer who has made the maximum runs and has played the highest number of matches. He took up cricket at the tender age of eleven.

Soon after at the age of sixteen, he made his Test debut against Pakistan, and went on to represent Mumbai domestically and India internationally when he was close to twenty-four years. When one talks about records, Sachin is incomparable because he is the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries, and the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International. He is also the only player to complete more than 30,000 runs in international cricket. In October 2013, he became the 16th player and first Indian to aggregate 50,000 runs in all recognized forms of cricket. One of the most popular sayings by his fans is “Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God”

Tendulkar’s entry into world cricket was glorified by former Indian stars and those who had seen him play. Tendulkar’s consistent performances earned him a fan following across the globe, especially amongst Australian crowds, where Tendulkar has time and again scored centuries.

His father, Ramesh Tendulkar, was a well-known Marathi novelist and his mother, Rajni, worked in the insurance industry. Ramesh named Tendulkar after his favourite music director, Sachin Dev Burman. Tendulkar has three elder siblings: two half-brothers Nitin and Ajit, and a half-sister Savita. As a young boy, Tendulkar was considered a bully, and he often picked up fights with new children in his school, until then who knew that he would grow up to be a complete gentleman.

He also showed interest in tennis, idolising John McEnroe. To restrain his mischievous and bullying tendencies, Ajit introduced him to cricket in 1984. He introduced the young Sachin to Ramakant Achrekar, a famous cricket coach and a club cricketer of repute. In the first meeting, the young Sachin did not play his best. Ajit requested the coach to give him another chance at playing. This time, Sachin, apparently, played much better and was accepted at Achrekar’s academy. Ajit is ten years elder to Sachin and is credited by him for playing a pivotal role in his life.

Achrekar was impressed with Tendulkar’s talent and advised him to shift his schooling to Sharadashram Vidyamandir High School, a school at Dadar , Mumbai which had a dominant cricket team and had produced many outstanding cricketers.  Tendulkar would practice for hours on end in the nets. If he became exhausted, Achrekar would put a one-rupee coin on the top of the stumps, and the bowler who dismissed Tendulkar would get the coin. If Tendulkar passed the whole session without getting dismissed, the coach would give him the coin. Tendulkar now considers the 13 coins he won then, as some of his most prized possessions. Meanwhile at school, he developed a reputation as a child prodigy. He had become a common conversation point like hot cakes in local cricketing circles, where there were predictions already that he would become one of the greatest cricketers.

Sachin constantly represented his school Shardashram Vidyamandir team, in Matunga Gujarati Seva Mandal Shield. Besides school cricket, he also played club cricket, initially representing John Bright Cricket Club in Mumbai’s premier club cricket tournament, the Kanga League, and later went on to play for the Cricket Club of India. In 1987, at the age of 14, he attended the MRF Pace Foundation in Madras (now Chennai) to train as a fast bowler, but Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, who took a world record 355 Test wickets, was unconvinced, and suggested that Tendulkar should focus on his batting instead.

On January 20, 1987, he also turned out as a substitute for Imran Khan’s side in an exhibition game at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, to mark the golden jubilee of Cricket Club of India. A couple of months later, former Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar gave him a pair of his own ultra light pads and consoled him to not get disheartened for not getting the Mumbai Cricket Association’s “Best junior cricket award”. Sachin served as a Ballboy in 1987 Cricket World Cup when India played against England in the semifinal in Mumbai.

His season in 1988 was extraordinary, with Tendulkar scoring a century in every innings he played. He was involved in an unbroken 664-run partnership in a Lord Harris Shield inter-school game against St. Xavier’s High School in 1988 with his friend and team-mate Vinod Kambli, who would also go on to represent India. The destructive pair reduced one bowler to tears and made the rest of the opposition unwilling to continue the game. Tendulkar scored 326 (not out) in this innings and scored over a thousand runs in the tournament. This was a record partnership in any form of cricket until 2006. On 24 May 1995, at the age of 22, Tendulkar married Anjali, a paediatrician and daughter of Gujarati industrialist Anand Mehta and British social worker Annabel Mehta. Anjali is six years older to Sachin.  They had a courtship of five years and had got engaged in 1994 in New Zealand. They have two children, Sara and Arjun.

In 2002, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked him the second greatest Test batsman of all time, behind Don Bradman, and the second greatest ODI batsman of all time, behind Viv Richards.  Later in his career, Tendulkar was a part of the Indian team that won the 2011 World Cup, his first win in six World Cup appearances for India. He had previously been named “Player of the Tournament” at the 2003 edition of the tournament, held in South Africa. In 2013, he was the only Indian cricketer included in an all-time Test World XI named to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

Tendulkar received the Arjuna Award in 1994 for his outstanding sports achievement. It’s noteworthy that Tendulkar is the only cricketer to achieve the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, 1997, which is India’s highest honour given in the field of sports.Sachin has also been awarded, the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan awards in 1999 and 2008, respectively, India’s fourth and second highest civilian awards. within a few hours of ending of his last  match before retirement  on 16 November 2013, the Prime Minister’s Office declared the decision to award Tendulkar with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, making him the youngest recipient till date and the first ever sportsperson to receive the award. He also won the 2010 Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for cricketer of the year at the ICC awards. In 2012,

Tendulkar was nominated to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.  He was also the first sportsperson (and the first without an aviation background) to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force.  In 2012, he was named an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia. In the year 2013, he was declared as the member of Rajya Sabha.

It was a big shock to all his passionate fans, when on December 2012; Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs.  He retired from Twenty20 cricket in October 2013 and subsequently announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, on 16 November 2013 after playing his200th and final Test match, against the West Indies in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. During his span as an active player, Tendulkar played 664 international cricket matches in total, scoring 34,357 runs.

He is also considered as a philanthropist and it is said that Tendulkar sponsors 200 underprivileged children every year through Apnalaya, a Mumbai-based NGO associated with his mother-in-law, Annabel Mehta. A request from Sachin on Twitter raised Rs. 1.025 crore for the Crusade against Cancer foundation. Sachin Tendulkar spent nine hours on the 12-hour Coca-Cola-NDTV Support My School telethon on 18 September 2011 that helped raise Rs. 7 crore – Rs. 2 crore more than the target – for the creation of basic facilities, particularly toilets for girl students, in 140 government schools across the country.

Tendulkar has opened two restaurants: Tendulkar’s (Colaba, Mumbai) and Sachin’s (Mulund, Mumbai). Sachin owns these restaurants in partnership with Sanjay Narang of Mars Restaurants.

In 2007, Tendulkar also announced a joint venture with the Future Group and Manipal Group to launch healthcare and sports fitness products under the brand name ‘S Drive and Sach’. A series of comic books by Virgin Comics is also due to be published featuring him as a superhero.

His selfless approach and devotion to cricket coupled with the lack of any ego problems made him one of the most approachable and likeable personalities in the field of cricket. Not only fans but his own colleagues saw him as a living legend always. And undoubtedly he is truly the champion of cricket and the hearts of people.

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