Sachin Tendulkar's greatness remains unparalleled in a cricket-hungry nation
There are plenty of stories on Sachin's God-like cricketing powers. The night he defied a sandstorm in Sharjah remains etched in our memories. A near-flawless performance in the 2003 World Cup took the nation within touching distance of the trophy they had previously won in 1983. And the list goes on and on.
To find the right adjective for Sachin Tendulkar or what he means to India is not like finding a needle in a haystack. Despite the difficulty of the challenge at hand, there is a tiny probability that you will eventually find the needle. With Tendulkar, there is no one definite answer. He is omnipresent – transcending the boundaries of social constructs in a country otherwise divided by caste, class, religion and gender. So is the admiration for him. He is everything you want him to be. The carrier of hopes, the messenger of a new nation, a defier of norms... No wonder they call him the ‘God’ across India.
Stories surrounding his God-like powers are plenty too. The night he defied a sandstorm in Sharjah remains etched in our memories. A near-flawless performance in the 2003 World Cup took the nation within touching distance of the trophy they had previously won in 1983. 200 – the first in international cricket to do so -- against South Africa in 2010, towards the end of his career, was another feather in what must already be a furry hat.
But it is what people did for Sachin that made him different from all other cricketers. Late Australian journalist Peter Roebuck, once wrote an interesting story about the Master Blaster.
"Once on a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing (his) century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This genius can stop time in India.”
The last line sums up Tendulkar. He could stop time in India. And his fans would remember, it did feel like he could slow down the time on the ground as well – always in the right position to bat whatever the bowlers hurled towards him. Many greats have come before and after Sachin Tendulkar, but the Master Blaster is unique for single-handedly helping India transition from the underdogs in world cricket to a powerhouse. His rise in fame also coincided with the early days of the post-liberalised era in India when TV consumption rose exponentially. It made him everyone’s favourite sportsperson and sparked a cricket revolution in the country.
After the 2011 World Cup victory, the Men in Blue carried Sachin on their shoulders across the Wankhede Stadium. After which current Indian captain Virat Kohli famously said, "Sachin Tendulkar has carried Indian cricket on his shoulders for 21 years. So it was fitting that we carried him on our shoulders after this win." Virat represented the entire nation when he said that.
Here is Asiaville’s ode to the legend who redefined not only cricket but India’s image as a modern nation.