The other day someone asked me, “You call yourself a big Sachin fan, so tell me the exact number of runs he has scored till now”
“12000 something and 16000 something”
“Haa ! Sachin fan!”, came the sarcastic reply.
“OK. how many centuries and half centuries”
“well 40 something and 90 something”
“What the hell! How do you call yourself a Sachin fan dude”.
That got me thinking, introspecting.
I don’t remember how many 100’s and 50’s He has scored
But I know, it is way more than anyone else.
I don’t remember the runs he has scored
But I know that no one will be able to reach those numbers in my life time.
I don’t remember what shot he played to which bowler, on what ground against which opposition.
I simply know that the shot must have given me immense pleasure, thrill and excitement.
And I think that is all what Sachin is all about. For me, it’s not about the numbers it never was. He hardly raised his bat when he reached the 17000 mark recently but you could see the joy on his face, in his body language after he punched the ball through the off side for a boundary. And that is why me and probably numerous others watch Him.
When he comes dancing down the pitch, it is as if the seconds move slowly. As soon as you see that aggressive stance, then the legs moving, the heart beat literally stops. There is that deadly mix of fear and excitement - something that Michael Douglas would have felt in Basic Instinct. It never feels the same when other numerous other batsmen do the same.
There are plenty of shots like the cover drives, straight drives, sweeps and paddle sweeps, gentle nudges and the on drives – which are replayed time and again. But there are those some special ones which are at top of the mind – fixed permanently there. One being the upper cut off Shoaib Akhtar in World Cup 2003. There had been some boundaries hit before that, but may be that shot “opened the floodgates”. I remember, watching it at Lolly’s place where we friends had gathered to watch the match. Oh, we jumped off our seats – again the fear followed by ecstasy – all in a matter of seconds.
Then there was the ferocious pull off Andy Caddick against England. It went soaring past the boundary – not of the ground but of the stadium. I was sitting in at Bulls Eye, doing some DI problems for CAT, which was some 9 months away(Damn!! ). That shot “opened the floodgates” of sms’s, prompting me to calculate the percentage increase in sms before and after the shot. Of course, I literally ran back home after the class.
The next one is a six of Fleming at Sharjah. It was not a sweetly timed straight batted shot over the bowler’s head but was intended to hit hard. It went soaring over the long on.
All the three were seen on TV. There was one special one seen live. I was sitting just to the left of deep mid wicket at PCA, Mohali. It was a full pitched delivery and I saw the ball move in 2 directions. First, it moved perpendicular to my line of sight and then a few seconds later, moved back in exactly the opposite direction as if it had hit a wall – Action and reaction. I don’t know why, it was beautiful to watch.
There was a beauty even when He got out on 99. It was the beauty of sadness. I have never seen Fifty Thousand people at one place absolutely silent. It was amazing – the spell that He cast. It seemed like the shrieks of the Pakistan team was swallowed in that silence. Half the stadium had their hands on their heads, the other half on their faces, just showing the sad eyes.
This silence was also the sound of shattering of one of my dreams to watch Him raise his bat Live – in front of my own eyes and applaud Him. It is tough for such an occasion to appear where He raises His bat if He has not scored a century so technically numbers are involved here. But the dream is just to see his bat raised – possibly in His last match. I wonder what will that be like – the last match. May be all the flood lights will get automatically turned off and a light will appear from the skies directed in the center of the ground which will follow Him as he walks to the pavilion, one last time. Meanwhile the dream still remains.