When Wankhede bowed to the master

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In focus Fans at Wankhede who came from across the country and other parts of the world will cherish ‘Sachin moments’ forever

FanfareSachin Tendulkar at Wankhede stadium;
FanfareSachin Tendulkar at Wankhede stadium;

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all those who trooped into the Wankhede Stadium to witness the farewell Test match of Sachin Tendulkar when India played West Indies in the second and final Test of the two-match series. Fans from across the world had planned their trip to be a part of history, as it also happened to be the first ever cricketer playing in the 200th Test match.

In a team sport, it was an unprecedented phenomenon that one individual, Sachin Tendulkar, hogged the limelight and not without reason. Everyone in the stands was least bothered about the fate of the Test match (yes there were many who wanted India to bat second time to see Sachin bat again). They were there just to get a glimpse of the great cricketer from Mumbai as many times as possible. No matter whether he was just fielding in some corner of the field or spotted chatting with his teammates during the gap between the overs. Every time his image was beamed on the giant screen, the crowd went wild — lustily chanting ‘Sachin, Sachin’.

If at all any proof was needed that Sachin is treated as ‘God of Cricket’, it was in abundance at the Wankhede Stadium from November 14 to 16. It was amazing that having seen so much of Sachin over the years, the feeling of being out there for the big match was irresistible for Sachin Joshi who had come all way from London to watch this match. He had seen the likes of Mumbai’s cricketing greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar over the years till the modern day great Sachin, yet he just could not resist his joy every time he saw the cricketer on the giant screen. “Yes, we wanted to be here at any cost.

It is ridiculous to think whether it is worth spending. There are certain things in life which are more important than money. I go back with fond memories of being witness to my favourite cricketer’s farewell Test,” says Sachin Joshi.

The feelings were no different for Abu Dhabi trio of fans — Nikhil Dev, Yogesh Deo and Rajesh Valingkar. “It did not matter that we had to spend Rs. 50,000 only for air fare and match tickets per head and lost six days of salary.

This is our way of paying tribute to Sachin Tendulkar,” says Rajesh who, as a child, watched the first-ever Test match at Wankhede featuring Clive Lloyd’s West Indies and India in 1974-75.

The mood in the stands clearly reflected just one simple fact — there is no better and bigger cricketer than Sachin Tendulkar for them. This was evident when everyone in the stadium stood up to salute Sachin’s mother Rajni and his coach Ramakant Archekar when she was shown on the giant screen. The clapping in appreciation was fantastic. There was disappointment when the genius who looked good for a century missed that magical milestone in his final Test.

And the defining moment of all came when Sachin Tendulkar walked across to the pitch in the middle at Wankhede at the end of the lap of honour.

The moment he touched the 22-yard strip and picked some soil to pay his respect, the crowd was in awe. “Oh! What a sight yaar ! This is another Sachin special,” was the spontaneous remark from Nikhil Dev, IT Consultant in Abu Dhabi.

Interestingly most of them were on their feet like Rajesh Vishwanathan, Managing Editor (Sports) of Microsoft Amp, with their trendy mobiles, when Sachin was being carried on the shoulders of captain M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli in the lap of honour, to take snaps. Finally everyone left the venue with memories and pictures they will freeze in memory for the rest of their life.





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