As the country prepares for a befitting farewell to the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, the cricket crazy denizens of Vijayawada are going down memory lane recollecting his brief visit to the city – not once but twice.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar will always remember Vijayawada for it was at Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium that he was denied his favourite non-vegetarian dishes, of course for a valid reason. Sachin was part of the Bombay team that took part in the Wills Trophy quarterfinal match against Bengal on October 2 in 1994.As it was Gandhi Jayanthi Day, the then president of Krishna District Cricket Association Narayana Rao Deshmukh, who was also the police chief, went by rule book and prevented serving of non-vegetarian dishes in public place.
“The lunch was served to the players without non-vegetarian dishes and members of both teams, including Sachin abided by rule and relished sumptuous vegetarian cuisine,” recollected G. Phani, a senior cricket administrator.
Sachin did not disappoint the motley crowd and slammed 57 runs as an opener (his partner was Sanjay Manjrekar) before he was stumped by Saba Karim off left arm spinner Utpal Chatterjee. Sachin Tendulkar visited the city for the second time when he was part of the Indian XI that played against Sri Lanka XI for the benefit of two veteran players Pochaiah Krishnamurthy, the former Indian wicket keeper and Bezwada Mahender Kumar, a successful leg spinner who played for both Andhra and Hyderabad. Players like Kapil Dev, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manoj Prabhakar, Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda D’Silva and Roshan Mahanama enthralled the packed stadium. “Sachin stayed at Hotel Khandhari (now Hotel Fortune Murali Park) and at Swarna Palace during his two visits to the city,” Mr. Phani added.
However, Sachin Tendulkar did not figure in the Indian teams that played against Zimbabwe (three-day match) and West Indies (official one day match), both held in 2002. The master blaster also shares a unique bond with former stumper and present Andhra Cricket Association Director M.S.K. Prasad and association president D.V. Subba Rao. “Three of us share common birthday - April 24,” M.S.K. Prasad said.