Cricket / sachin tendulkar

Sachin: The Last Hope
He is the heartbeat of a nation. An entire generation grew up not knowing what an Indian team without Sachin Tendulkar was like. He brought cheer into their stressful lives, hope in their hearts and joy on their faces. It was not just the fans who sang paeans about Tendulkar; Don Bradman, Garry Sobers, Viv Richards and Shane Warne are among a long list of cricketing legends whose hosannas about Tendulkar remain etched in memory. Tendulkar’s celestial gifts redefined cricketing statistics: the only batsman to score 100 international centuries, the only player to play 200 Tests, the first to score a double-hundred in ODIs, the only batsman to score 30,000 international runs, and the owner of the highest number of runs and hundreds in both Tests and ODIs. He was a nightmare for captains setting the field as his range and repertoire of strokes had multiple answers to questions posed by bowlers. If there was one stroke from his wide cornucopia which left onlookers spellbound it was the bowlers’-back drive - often just a defensive half-push - that blazed to the straightest part of the ground. Balls came off his bat like a bazooka, thanks largely to a disproportionately heavy bat for a small man. Tendulkar gave notice of his prowess when as a 16-year-old he scored 53 off 18 balls. He savaged Abdul Qadir for 28 in an over, including three sixes. The gems he carved out in a Riplesque 24-year-career are too vast to list here. But among the finest would be his Test-saving 119* at Old Trafford at age 17, 114 on a bouncy WACA at age 19; 155* versus Australia at Chepauk in 1988, a fourth innings 136 against Pakistan at Chepauk in 1999, 140* in the 1999 World Cup after the demise of his father, the Desert Storms (143 & 134) against Australia at Sharjah in 1988, 241* at Sydney in 2003-04. Tendulkar was more than useful as a bowler as his 201 international wickets (46 in Tests, 154 in ODIs, 1 in T20Is) bears testimony. This includes two five-for in ODIs. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack ranked him the second-greatest Test batsman (behind Don Bradman) and the second-greatest ODI batsman (after Viv Richards) in 2002. Tendulkar has been lavishly decorated: Arjuna Award (1994), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (1997), Padma Shri (1999) and Padma Vibhushan (2008), India's fourth and second highest civilian awards respectively, and Bharat Ratna (2013), the highest civilian award - the youngest-ever and the only sportsperson to receive the honour. In 2012, Tendulkar was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. In 2013, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp of Tendulkar. November 16, 2013 was one of the saddest days in post-Independent India. The man whose cricketing career was intertwined with a billion plus Indians moved even the impassive to tears with his thank you speech before leaving to what is arguably the most emotionally-charged farewell in cricket history.