Sachin is God's gift to India!

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 25, 2010 18:09 hrs

Anand Philar

I would rather watch Sachin Tendulkar bat than write about him, for, I feel, that almost all of us are not qualified enough to even wax eloquence much less criticise the one Indian who binds people of this country like no one else can and ever will.

After all, it takes one to know one and Sachin is alone in the sporting stratosphere, beyond our reach, like the stars in the Universe.

Watching him decimate the hapless South African bowling attack, I, like millions of fans was on my feet, especially as he neared the milestone 194 and then the magical 200.

Frustrating moments were those when Dhoni hogged the strike in the final overs before allowing Sachin to face and squeeze the ball past point for the single that took him from 199 to 200.

Like many of you, I let out a war cry with my arms raised and saw myself in Sachin. He was living my dream and I celebrated the achievement like any other mortal.

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I am not much for statistics, for they reflect only one side of the coin and Sachin transcends numbers that today are as meaningless to someone of his status and achievements. The sheer joy he gives us is good enough.

I, again like many, have been guilty of questioning Sachin's continuance in cricket a couple of seasons ago when he looked pretty ordinary (by his exalted standards) with some strange nip-and-tuck batting that is so alien to him.

We overlooked the fact that he was on the recovery trail after a string of injuries and that it would take some time for him to regain his touch and form.

That was a period when Sachin's popularity hit a low with even the Mumbai crowd booing him off the field after yet another flop show.

Yet, Sachin kept his cool and replied his critics as only he can – with the bat and some heavy scoring.

In the past season, we have seen him blossom forth to remind us of Sachin of the 1990s (remember Desert Storm?) when he scored rapidly and dominated the bowling.

Gwalior and prior to that Hyderabad (175 vs Australia) are prime examples of a ''refreshed'' Sachin who is so obviously enjoying his cricket far more than he ever did.

With age, experience and maturity one goes through that phase in any profession. Suddenly, there is joy in performing a simple routine, the task becomes easier and the process, fluent.

You get to feel that you can perform with your eyes closed. I think, Sachin has reached that stage in his career when he realizes that he is on the home stretch and can see the finish line on the horizon.

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It is always so when you know you have nothing to prove, seen it all, been there and done that. You begin to look for fresher pastures since there is no challenge left to overcome.

For Sachin of today, batting is no more a task but a pleasure. A century is just another milestone and the feeling is familiar.

Last night in Gwalior, his acknowledgement of getting to 200 was somewhat subdued, but if it had happened 10 years ago, perhaps, Sachin would have indulged in some Lara-style celebration.

However, at nearly 37, married and father of two winsome children, there is greater decorum to Sachin's behaviour and that, more than the tons of runs, makes him so much special.

I wouldn't get into comparisons, but in my book, there are only two batting icons – Gavaskar and Tendulkar or, Sunny and Sachin (this sounds better!).

Not Viv Richards, not Lara, not Ponting.

Both the Mumbaikars had to deal with expectations and hopes that Viv nor Lara nor Ponting had to endure. Add to that the responsibility within the team that always looked up to them to deliver.

The other three had plenty of talented batsmen in front and behind them in the line-up and to that extent, were free of pressure.

So, for how much more longer can Sachin go on? I doubt any of us can answer that, for, it is a decision that is best left to him.

He has set his eyes on the 2011 World Cup that he wants to win to make up for the previous failures and perhaps, if he realises the dream, he might want to quit ODI and focus only on Test cricket.

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For sure, don't expect a 402, much less a triple hundred, from Sachin. If he can yet reach those milestones, then celebrate or else, just sit back and enjoy whatever he offers. I suspect, he is far from finished yet!

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