For me, Sachin Tendulkar stands out as the perfect combination of talent, hard work and dedication. The fact that he never takes for granted his extraordinary skills as a batsman, is one of the reasons for his stupendous success over such a long time.
Sachin prepares in the same manner for both international assignments and domestic matches. You can hardly find any difference in his approach and commitment whether the match is international or domestic. He is a real joy to watch — not only when he is batting but also when he trains.
For someone who has achieved so much, Sachin always came across as a thorough gentleman and this is evident by the way he carries himself through testing times. This has something to do with his upbringing and a lot of credit should go to his parents and family members.
I always had fond memories and great partnerships with him — both on and off the field — for close to 17 years since I first met him during the 1994 Wills Trophy match. He was already a ‘special name’ by that time and it was a pleasant surprise for me that he was following my performances for India against Australia in the under-19 series.
It was a dream-come-true when I made my Test debut under his captaincy in 1996 against South Africa. Despite all the achievements over the years, Sachin never ever gave an impression that he is bigger than the sport. He not only respected the game but also the opposition.
When someone has scored 100 centuries in ODIs and Tests, it is difficult to point out which knocks are the outstanding ones. But, two of his innings stand out in my memory.
One was the ‘The Desert Storm’ in Sharjah when I was fortunate to be the non-striker as he smashed the Aussies all over. The other one was the century against Pakistan in 1999 Chennai Test, though unfortunately, for a lost cause.
All good things have to come to an end. So, I do feel that Sachin knew when to retire and we have to respect his decision.
Like many, I too felt in a different world when he is batting at the other end. He had that rare gift of split second extra time to adjust his strokes and invariably picked up clues from the body language of the bowlers to get the upper hand. I salute Sachin — an extraordinary cricketer, a great human being and terrific ambassador for the sport.
(As told to V.V. Subrahmanyam)