The year was 1998 and I must've just gotten out of my nappies. There was a match being broadcast on the television between India and Australia. That match was at Sharjah.
As a kid who couldn't comprehend much and communicate only in drools and gibberish, I believed that in cricket, the wicketkeeper was to throw the ball at the non-striker and the bowler at the batsman, and the main aim of the fielding team was to try and make sure the two batsmen hit each other while they were running. Weird but true.
But there was this one batsman, who kept smashing the bowlers everywhere and hardly ran, thus giving no opportunity for the opponents to make him hit the other guy. The newspapers had 148 printed against his name.
Eleven years later, I'm still not able to comprehend so well but I know the proper rules of cricket, the objective, etc etc..Recently a match took place in Hyderabad, between the same teams I had witnessed eleven years previously.
India required 351 to win but they fell agonisingly short. But the high point of the match was that same man who scored the 148 at Sharjah! He's still alive? That is really cool! As you all know, that man was Sachin Tendulkar.
Even after twenty years of international cricket, his body responds to him as if its his debut. The sheer class of the 'Master Blaster' still haunts bowlers and captain's dreams. Bowlers still jump around like mad after getting his wicket, even after twenty years.
What were, are or will you be doing at the age of sixteen? Watching TV, studying, reading, writing, hanging out with friends or going to watch a cricket match?
Sachin played Wasim, Waqar and Imran at the age of sixteen. Yet he was, and still is, as humble as ever. Everytime he walks out to bat, the people rise up, chant his name and go berserk. Even after twenty years.
I was there at the DY Patil Stadium for that last ODI which got washed out. Even after the match was declared cancelled, the crowd kept screaming, "Sachin Sachin!" Even after twenty years.
The respect he commands at the wicket is astonishing. While bowlers go on giving glares and swears to his partner, they wouldn't dare even complete their follow through while bowling to Sachin, even if he is half of his partner's score in twice as many balls his partner has faced.
So many times has he been criticised, but one inning and those critics are suddenly missing. There are still anti-Sachin people out there. But their just travelling on a goalless journey.
You may not like Sachin for some reason or the other, but there is no denying the fact that Sachin is the God of cricket. Those cherubic features often mislead captains. Most of these captains ended up bald.
Even after twenty years, Sachin walks out to bat with the same passion and excitement as he did at the dawn of his career. Only difference now, we don't know what era or time to call this period.
Even after twenty years..wow twenty years! Twenty years is what it took to make cricket an international sport from just an ordinary sport.
While there are needless feuds between religions, countries and castes, all people come together to watch this masterpiece at work.
There have been some major trenches to this mighty man mountain, like the match fixing scandal, the ball tampering thing, but it is impossible to play for twenty years and not have the bad light thrown on you.
Sachin's emotions, are the common Indian's emotions. When he took those three runs to reach 17,000, Sunil Gavaskar rightly said, those runs are as much as the people's as Sachin's. Indeed, I felt so much more relaxed after he reached that awesome landmark.
A hundred for Sachin, is a hundred for the nation and an insult to him is an insult to the nation.
So what if we lost the Kohinoor? No one can take away Sachin Tendulkar from us. Not even God.