Retiring India batting great Sachin Tendulkar has always lived under stress and pressure to fulfil the dreams of a billion Indians and his 24-year long international career is ending on a happy note, Ajit Tendulkar, elder brother of the legendary batsman, said.
Sachin will be retiring after playing his 200th Test, starting on Thursday here, and Ajit said it would be a different feeling once he hangs up his boots. “On the afternoon of November 18, it would be a different feeling. All of us in the family, we dream about his cricket…one we have shared. That will end, but it is finishing on a happy note. Most of his dreams have come true. I believe he has fulfilled the dreams of the Indian fans,” said Ajit during ‘Salaam Sachin’, an event organised by the India Today Group in honour of the iconic batsman.
“After November 18, Sachin won’t wear his India cap. It will be a big change because he has been wearing it with pride for 24 years. Throughout his career, everyone expected him to score 100s and he was under tremendous stress and pressure, but all that has been worth. After retirement, there won’t be the bowlers to face or those work-outs. Perhaps he can eat as much butter chicken as he wants,” he added.
Ajit today walked down memory lane and remembered his younger brother’s early playing days, his millionaire status, their father’s demise, his best innings in international cricket and life after retiring. Sachin had become a millionaire at a very young age but for Ajit he was a millionaire only when he scored runs.
“For me he was a millionaire only when he got hundreds. He wasn’t one if he did not score. There was a charmin travelling in auto after he scored runs. But, travelling in a BMW after he didn’t scoring wasn’t all that good. At home, we spoke about his runs and not his money. After all these records, I can say, he is a millionaire forever,” said Ajit.
Sachin’s family has always tried to stay away from watching him live in action but Ajit said this time he along with the other members will watch him play as it is their last chance. “I will certainly watch this time. This is the last time and last opportunity for me. Our mother will watch him live for the first time. Lot of our friends would laugh at us as we stayed away all these years. We didn’t mind. But now all of us are looking forward to go,” he said.
Asked why the family never watched him live all these years, Ajit said: “There were few things which scared us when he was scoring heavily. One was his tendency to throw away his wicket. Raj Singh Dungarpur called our father once and told him, ‘Tell Sachin to start the car from 1st gear and not 5th’. “My mother would pray and sister would fast. Nitin (another brother) would also do something. I would try to create positive vibes before he would go to bat. Once a batsman goes to bat, nobody is in control, but it was an attempt from us to be with him in spirit.”
Sachin is the youngest of the four siblings. Talking about the time when they lost their father in 1999, Ajit said: “If father would have come back to life for even five minutes, he would have told Sachin to go and play the 1999 World Cup.
“Our father had suffered a heart-attack in May when Indian team was in Sri Lanka. At night, I told our father that ’Sachin will bat tomorrow and I will not tell him that you are not fine’. Then I went back to our father and told him that Sachin got a ton and he was thrilled. We all felt he should go and play forIndia at the World Cup.”
Reflecting on Sachin’s innings of 136 against Pakistan in Chennai, Ajit said: “I think, Sachin would have won the game for India. I am not saying it was the most important innings (of his career), but my favourite innings.
“When he came from the New Zealand tour, I spoke to him. He said he was really tired and may not play against Pakistan. I was disheartened as he had a chance to play against Wasim and Waqar. In the first innings at Chennai, he was out for zero. The match reached an interesting stage on Day Four and he was batting on 20-odd. The wicket was tough and he went out to bat when India were six for two. “I felt he had to help India win and perform for himself. That was a test of his nerve and skill.”
Of all the accolades that Sachin has received in his career, Ajit remembers one compliment that he got from a friend during the Sharjah innings. “After his Sharjah innings, my friend called and said, ’My mother watched the match and cried as Sachin was batting so beautifully’. That is the best compliment.”
|Ajit and Sachin Tendulkar|
It was Ajit, who had taken Sachin to coach Ramakant Achrekar when he was just 11 and had no experience of playing with hard ball. Recalling the time, Ajit said: “There were three things I noticed in Sachin as a child. His easy bat lift, the lovely swing of his bat, his judgement of the length of the ball and ball striking. So I took him to Achrekar.
“The first day he did not have the proper clothing, he was in shorts, so Achrekar asked him to wear full trousers. The first day he was made to take a few catches and I was surprised to see him do well. Once he got the kit, Achrekar sir picked the No. 4 spot for him in the line-up.”
Asked if he ever had any arguments with Sachin, Ajit said: “Other than cricket, we do not talk anything else too much. Credit to Sachin as he heard me. He has faced toughest bowlers in difficult conditions. I watched on television and gave him suggestions. He took them in his stride. Not having gone to the ground and experienced, may be wrong on my part.”
He also narrated an incident when Sachin had boarded a taxi to the airport: “I was in his BMW and there was a lot of luggage. As we drove, he said that there is something wrong in the car and we saw the tyre punctured. We parked the car, but we did not have the security guard with us,” Ajit said.
“It was early morning, so there wasn’t enough rush. We couldn’t ask for another car as he had to reach the airport. I called for an auto and a taxi, and the drivers couldn’t believe when they saw. We put the luggage. Sachin was in the taxi. Once we reached the airport, everyone were surprised to see him in a taxi. It was quite funny.”