In 1989 at Sialkot, blood falls on the pitch as the toddler in cricket world takes a hit on face from the fearsome Waqar Younis. Asked by the non-striker Siddhu to retire, the kid says "Main Khelega". Next ball is out of the long on boundary for a four. The hostile Pak crowd is stunned. A gritty fifty follows. A legend is born.
That is my earliest memory of the great Sachin Tendulkar. After that, people said his bat is too heavy for a long career. He carried that, along with India's hopes, for 20 long years. They said he can't score when India needs him. He kept on scoring so much that nobody ever felt there was a need for anybody to score. They said he is worn out. He completed 12000 test runs in 2008, 13000 in 09 and now 14000 in 2010.
We rejoiced with him as he led India through desert storm. We cried for him as he lost a battle to a hurting back and India lost to Pak. We stood in applause and respect as he dedicated his century after 26/11 to the martyrs. We felt our goosebumps as he declared in face of regional politics that "I am Sachin Tendulkar and I play for India".
He was the cutest boy India had ever seen. He became the most loved poster boy. He became the mentor in chief to the teammates. He became GOD to cricket fans.
Close your eyes and think Indian Cricket. Tell me if you don't see Sachin. May the God continue to rule over the followers. We will gleefully give up any sight in the cricket world, just to see one of your drives!
The poster at a test match summed it up as "We have seen God. He bats at No.4 for India."