Once Sachin Tendulkar hit his 100th century, all newspapers in a table form carried the details of the centuries scored by him.
The table had the date, venue, the team played against and Sachin’s score.
I was happy to see the name of my hometown Kanpur in the table. Kanpur’s name is rarely in newspapers these days for a good reason.
The memories of the match India had played against Australia on April 7, 1998 at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur came to my mind.
I would like clarify that neither cricket is my religion nor Sachin is my God. I was not very comfortable with the idea of reaching the stadium at 8 a.m. to watch the match.
Still, I went to see the match. There were reasons. My friends had pressurised me to accompany them. I had nothing better to do that day. I had a free access to the media gallery of the stadium. Media gallery gives you the best view of a match.
The month of April is hot in north India. The sky was clear on the day on the match. The bright sunshine was scorching the skin even at 6 a.m. Despite all odds, I was at the stadium at 8.30 a.m. It was filled to capacity.
I exactly do not remember which team won the toss but the Kangaroos batted first. The Australian line-up was great. Mark Taylor, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Shane Warne....
The Australian innings was opened by Mark Taylor and if I am not wrong by, Mark Waugh.
I was a surprised to see Mark Taylor. He looked formidable on the television – of medium height but with broad shoulders, broad wrists, and muscular forearms. But from a close angle, he looked like a lean and athletic teenager.
The Australians were not able to face the Indian bowlers. They lost wickets at regular intervals and at the end of their innings; they were not able to put up a very formidable score – something between 200 and 250.
That was not a big challenge for India. The Indian side was also star studded– Sachin, Mohammed Azharuddin, Virendra Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Drvaid, Anil Kumble.......
The Indian innings was opened by Sachin and Ganguly. Both were in great form. They started hammering the Australian bowlers from the word go.
The way Sachin was batting it seemed that they would wind up the match within two hours after the lunch break by 3 p.m.
It was after this match that Shane Warne state that Sachin gave him nightmares.
All of a sudden, between change of bowling, Harbhajan Singh ran into the ground with a bottle of water. He offered the water to Sachin and Sourav who were chatting by the side of the wicket.
Once Harbhajan departed and the match resumed, Sachin was no more aggressive.
Sachin scored slowly and the match was over by 4.30 p.m. India won without losing any wickets.
Kalyan Singh who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh then, distributed the prizes as the chief guest of the match.
Being in the media gallery, I came to know why Bhajji had suddenly rushed to the ground with a bottle of water.
The way Sachin was playing, it seemed that the match would be over by 3 p.m. But the BCCI wanted the match to be over in the presence of Kalyan Singh who was to reach Green Park stadium at 4 p.m.
BCCI, through Bhajji, asked Sachin to score runs slowly and end the match in the presence of Kalyan Singh. Sachin happily obliged.
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Soon after the Congress party declared that it would nominate Sachin to the Rajya Sabha, he gave a statement in Pune – ‘I am going to become a parliamentarian, not a politician.’
It seems that Sachin wants to have the cake and eat it too.
Sachin must have meant that he will become a parliamentarian but remain apolitical. Sachin will remain apolitical and keep all political parties in good humour till he gets Bharat Ratna or the issue is settled for once and all.
Today, a Congress-led coalition is in power. There are chances that the Congress-led UPA may award him with Bharat Ratna.
Sachin will never antagonise the BJP also. What if the Congress fails to give him the award and a BJP-led coalition comes to power after the 2014 general elections?
So Sachin will maintain a safe distance from all political parties.
Also, today politician and politics have become cuss words but not Parliament and parliamentarians. For example, when we think of A Raja, we think of him as a politician and not as parliamentarian.
So Sachin has become a parliamentarian and not a politician.
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The debate is on – who should get the Bharat Ratna – hockey wizard Dhyanchand or master-blaster Sachin.
The hockey wizard is no more with us. But can’t Sachin show some magnanimity and say – ‘I have got enough from cricket. Give Bharat Ratna to Dhyanchand.’
Indians consider Sachin as a God. He has made millions of rupees from cricket. Is that not enough? It seems Sachin has hunger not only for runs but for every prize, title and award.
Sachin says that as a parliamentarian, he will work for uplift of all sports and not just cricket. Sachin can make a beginning by demanding that Bharat Ratna be awarded to Dhyanchand. That will boost India’s much beleaguered national sport.
But I know Sachin will never do that. Sachin will never say no even if he is asked to become the president of India or his name is considered for Nobel Peace Prize.
We should remember that there are great players who win the World Cup for their country and there are players who are great but fail in World Cups.
Players like Pele, Maradona, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan stand in the first category.
David Beckham, Johan Cryuff, Loinel Messi, Roberto Baggio, Sachin Tendulkar fall in the second category.
Sachin looked sheepish when the Indian team started celebrating after winning the cricket World Cup. Perhaps he was guilty that India had won the World Cup but he, the God, was not able to make any considerable contribution. While taking the victory lap of the stadium, he smiled weakly and took sips of champagne sheepishly.
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Sachin will be in Rajya Sabha for the next six years from now. He will be getting a salary and several other benefits as a Rajya Member. We, the taxpayers, will be paying for his salary and the perks.
Sachin will also play cricket for at least next six years, in not for Team India then for an IPL team. Once he retires from an IPL as a player, he will most probably be retained as a coach or as a mentor.
I am keenly waiting for the next IPL season. The IPL season coincides with the budget session of Parliament. I am waiting to see whether Sachin will attend the Rajya Sabha or be busy with the IPL matches.
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With cricket being the religion of India, it seems political parties are now trying to earn some brownie points through the game.
The Congress Party, beleaguered by several scams, suddenly appoints Sachin as a Rajya Sabha Member.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is thinking that KKR has not won the IPL but the World Cup.
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Sachin is not only a good batsman (never a good player) but also a shrewd businessman.
When Michael Schumacher gifted Sachin a Ferrari sports car, the latter wanted the import duty on the car to be waived by the Indian government.
I do not remember if Sachin paid the import duty or not. That was six or seven years back. Once Sachin was bored with the sports car, he sold it.
Do we sell things that are gifted to us?
Now, let us suppose Sachin had gifted an autographed bat to Schumacher. What would have been the reaction of Sachin’s fans in case Schumacher had auctioned the bat to make a fortune?
I am sure Sachin’s fans would have bayed for Schumacher’s blood.