I just couldn't believe it! I was seeing it all with my own eyes, but it seemed so unreal.
India had lost their second wicket and the batsman had a long walk back to the pavilion. Mind you, India were playing at home, and the stadium was filled with more than 50,000 cricket-fanatic Indians.
Normally, a loss of wicket would warrant a disappointment, saddened groans and moans, curses even! But when that batsman got out, the whole stadium erupted with delight!
The deafening cheer was, of course, not for the departing batsman, but simply because him getting out meant that now Sachin Tendulkar (batting at No. 4 that day) would step onto the field to bat!
It's only fair to insert this cheesy, overused line here—In India, cricket is a religion, and Sachin Tendulkar is a God.
This prolific batsman, today, holds all the "big four batting records." This is the guy who literally gave nightmares to the best spin bowler of his time: Shane Warne. It seems impossible to make an all-time cricket dream-team, test or ODIs, without him.
Sachin Tendulkar can arguably be called- the best batsman this world has ever seen.
And it is this legend—Sachin Tendulkar, who recently said that he has two dreams left to realize now:
- To get to 15,000 test runs.
- To win a World Cup playing for India.
As great as Tendulkar is, can he really do it?
Right now, Sachin Tendulkar has amassed 12,773 runs in test cricket. Getting to 15,000 runs would warrant him playing test cricket till 2012 at least, and that too assuming he generally stays fit and scores at a prolific rate.
Test cricket can take a toll on the body and fitness has been a key issue for the 36-year-old. Back problems and overall fitness have affected Sachin's performances over the past few years. Every time he seems to get better, some injury sidelines him.
A book can be written about his form over the past decade or so. He has seen highs and lows in his long career. But it cannot be denied, that with age, his aggression and prolific rate of scoring has reduced.
Opposing teams now consider the dismissal of Virender Sehwag more important than Tendulkar. A few years ago, opposing bowlers feared Tendulkar; now they just respect him.
Then he faces a threat from the young guns. There are a number of young, talented Indian players who have put on good shows in the domestic circuits. How long can the Indian selectors resist the temptation of giving a younger player a test cap, sidelining Tendulkar?
ODI World Cup seems a more probable adventure. Winning a World Cup is a team effort, and with the best part of two years still to go, early to say anything. But it doesn't seem too improbable that he can play in it.
Even right now, Tendulkar is rested for some tours and “used” in important series. He can prepare himself and focus specifically on the WC.
2011 WC will be held in South Asia, many matches will be played in India. Considering the stature of Tendulkar, BCCI will find it impossible to keep him out of it.
But then again, BCCI did axe the popular Sourav Ganguly and Rahul “The wall” Dravid from ODIs, once considered the backbone of the Indian batting, after some poor performances. So, staying in good form, and fitness will still be very crucial for Tendulkar.
One shouldn’t write off Tendulkar though.
This guy has single-handedly carried his team across the finish line many times. Anyone who has watched him during the Sharjah Cup in ’98, knows that he can really perform miracles in cricket. He doesn’t like losing and must have considered all this when he made that statement.
But can he really do it?