What happens when the person you loved the most comes to say the final goodbye? You try to capture every moment of it in your brain so that you can relive it later. The same feeling crept in me when the last test match of Sachin Tendulkar started on 14h November 2013. Here was the batsman, i loved the most, playing his last test match in Mumbai and I was sitting in Delhi mugging for UPSC mains, my life never sounded that unfair to me.
With one eye on the book and another on the score, the day was crawling. West Indies got all out before tea. When Sachin came out of pavilion to bat, all head turned towards him and time had been stopped for one more time in India by Sachin. The electronic scoreboard said “Don’t even blink” and nothing could have been truer than that. No one blinked their eyes when he batted for India in the span of 24 years.
At the end of Day1, Sachin remained not out on 38 and my resolve to stay in Delhi and study for UPSC broke and I flew to Mumbai to bid adieu to my hero.
Next day, I reached ground early with mixed feelings. I was happy to witness the last inning of Sachin and sad as well because it was the last time I would do so. Before Sachin entertained us with his bat on the second day of the test match, he entertained us with his footballing skills during team warm up. The crowd was on the edge in anticipation of a goal from him and gave thunderous applaud when he scored. It reminded me of the burden that Sachin carried throughout his career when anything less than 100 was seen as failure. He was representative of aspiring India. People were so attached to Sachin that his success was seen as their own success, his failure as their own failure. I wonder how a man who is burdened with such expectations could survive and perform for so long. He must be a genius, superhuman or may be God to do so.
He came out to bat the second day and enthralled the crowd at the stadium as well as the people glued to TV screen with his magnificent batting as he did throughout his career. Every shot played by Sachin was applauded, even his defensive stroke got more cheers than Cheteshwar Pujara’s boundaries. I have seen many matches and this was the loudest crowd I have ever seen. At the same time crowd was more nervous than Sachin. Whenever Sachin was beaten by good deliveries, it made their heart skip a beat. I wanted him to score a century by remaining on non-striker end ( only if it was possible) as when he came to bat my nervousness went through the roof of Wankhede Stadium.
Whole stadium was busy chanting “Sachiiiin, Sachin” and crescendo was building for a fitting 100 in the final test for Sachin. But against the run of the play, Deonarine had his moment of life when he got better of Sachin and stadium fell into dead silence before breaking into thunderous applause for the man they admired, loved, beheld for last 24 years. As Sachin was walking towards the pavilion, Virat Kohli walked out to bat for India. A picture-perfect scene of passing the baton.
As soon as India took the substantial lead, a section of the crowd chanted for the declaration so that India gets the chance to bat again and they get to see Sachin bat for one more time but such emotions seldom find a place in the world where winning and losing matters the most.
The match finished on 3rd day, Indian team gave Sachin moving lap of honour but what moved whole nation was that “My life between 22 yards for 24 years” farewell speech by Sachin. Everyone stood up at Wankhede while listening to his farewell speech and suddenly a tear trickled down my face and that was surprising as emotions never get better of me. I sheepishly looked around to check whether I was lucky enough to miss the people’s glare at my most embarrassing moment, but to my surprise, my sister beside me was shedding more tears. Everyone around me had moist eyes. I did not find a single person whose eyes were not moist and that is the emotional connect that Sachin has with Indian people. Even the legends on the field had their eyes wet when Sachin mentioned their name and thanked them. There was an outpour of emotion made of sorrow, nostalgia, goose bumps, memories.
As soon as speech and lap of honour were over, despondency dawned on the crowd. It’s over: no more straight drives, no more back foot punches, no more paddle sweeps, no more Sachiiin Sachin chants, no more “Sachin hai na abhi, jeet jayenge (Sachin is still there, we will win)” statement of trust. The emotional connect that has been there for last 24 years had been snapped in a moment.
Many players would come and go. Some would even come close or even break records of Sachin but none would have emotional connect that Sachin has with generations of Indians and we would certainly not have a packed stadium in tears to say goodbye to their legend/God. Sachin Tendulkar is not just a cricketer; he is the man though whom billions lived their dream. During the match, a banner at Wankhede said “Now only humans will play cricket” Can you argue with that ??
Thank you Sachin for all the memories and for inspiring generations.