The unimpeachable straight bat
Who is Sachin?
Arya Yuyutsu: My mum yelped in delight as I dawdled around, amazed at the lack of attention I was getting. I may have been 6, but I was pampered and spoilt and it seemed unfair that mum was yelping in delight at a little man in blue clothes wielding some sort of wooden stick, raising it over his head in indiscernible manner.
"Who's he?" I mumbled, visibly irked.
"Sachin Tendulkar!" gasped mum, visibly excited.
"Who is Sachin Tendulkar?" I asked, noticeably upset.
"Someone very special," replied mum, noticeably overawed, "he is an Indian God!"
I've never been forced towards any religion or belief, but mum made sure I believed in the one physical God that mattered - Sachin Tendulkar!
Arya Yuyutsu is a multimedia journalist at ESPNcricinfo
The first glimpse
Umar Farooq: I first saw Sachin Tendulkar in person during a net session at SuperSport Park in Centurion, during the 2009 Champions Trophy. I was excited and wondered how to make the best of the moment, but decided against asking for an autograph, handshake or picture. I wanted something more valuable, and so I stood behind the grille separating us by five or six feet and watched his every movement. As an admirer of his smooth straight drive, I hoped he would play it repeatedly for me, and as if on cue Tendulkar asked Gary Kirsten if he could come closer and throw so that he could play straight. Coincidence it may have been, but it was like those moments were especially for me.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
Deliverance from above
Shiva Jayaraman: I had bunked school that day, possibly for the first time, and stayed home, feigning illness, to watch an India-Pakistan ODI. Guilt ridden as I already was, I saw it as just punishment that first the match was stripped of ODI status, and then Pakistan plundered some 150-odd runs from 20 overs. And then Tendulkar happened: a mere lad who took apart Abdul Qadir in one over. The gods had better things to do than punish a boy for bunking school, after all, or maybe Sachin Tendulkar brought me deliverance that day.
Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo
Mohammad Isam: The wide verandah on top of the press box at the Shere Bangla National Stadium was a squeeze, as 30,000 people waited for Sachin Tendulkar's 100th hundred. I had gone upstairs when he was in the eighties, to get a sense of the packed house down below. When the moment arrived, I was standing straight behind and above Tendulkar as he jogged the single to his very own fiefdom. The sweeping 360-degree view vibrated as one. I can tell my grandkids that I was there.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent
The man who made the country smile
Jayaditya Gupta: As a journalist I've worked in cities across India as different from each other as Kolkata and Chandigarh, Baroda and Bangalore. Almost the sole constant has been cricket, which transcends the usual barriers of language, class, caste, religion; and nothing in cricket has been so unifying a factor as Tendulkar. For 24 years he has been a lightning rod for our emotions; a Tendulkar century could lift spirits on the gloomiest of days, a failure could plunge the country into deep despair. No other single Indian - and I choose my words carefully - has had the ability to make the entire country smile. My guess is that's another record that will go with him.
Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor at ESPNcricinfo
Dignity in the face of tragedy
Kanishkaa Balachandran: Sachin Tendulkar won several battles with his mind on the field, but there's one story of his mental strength off it that stands out for me. In the 1999 World Cup, with the hopes of millions resting on his shoulders, I remembered the shock when news came of his father¹s death early in the tournament.
Tendulkar returned home. He needed his space. And time. Incredibly, he chose to return to England after missing just one game, but despite the relief there was the inescapable doubt would he be the same again? Had he rushed it? Those doubts were cleared in a breathtaking innings of 140 off 101 balls against Kenya in Bristol. Tendulkar was in the zone. He didn't let personal tragedy come between him and his responsibility to the country. He bottled up his emotions when he spoke after the game, maintaining his dignity. More than sympathy and admiration, the biggest thing you felt for him during that episode was respect.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
The day I didn't meet Tendulkar
Amol Karhadkar: Having earned a few prizes in table tennis, I will always regret missing what would have been my most cherished prize. As a 13-year-old, I was supposed to receive it from Sachin Tendulkar, who was the guest of honour at a state-ranking table tennis tournament at Khar Gymkhana in 1994. Sadly, what stood between me and meeting the man was conjunctivitis. The infection meant I had to skip the prize distribution ceremony, which was held two days after my event was over. Cut to November 2013, when Tendulkar will return to the dressing room from a cricket field one last time. I wouldn't mind if the eyes are wet (though not sore), in one of the rare moments of the fan in me overtaking the cynical journalist. Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Australia via Edinburgh
Alagappan Muthu: I hadn't expected to be homesick in Edinburgh, considering the place has long been one of my dream destinations, but Sachin Tendulkar was there to save the day, if only via Youtube. It was Diwali and the quiet guy, as my room-mates called me, nearly woke up half the neighbourhood while watching one of the millions of Tendulkar montages strewn around cyberspace. They assumed I had had a bad dream, and a few embarrassed apologies later, we were all crouched around my laptop as Brett Lee was treated to a straight drive that might even have been the redemption of the phrase "tracer bullet". You know the one I'm talking about - the fourth match of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series in 2008, which India won - when all Tendulkar did was meet the ball with that almost unimpeachable straight bat.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
With Sachin, alone
Devashish Fuloria: An early morning in March 1994, I woke up in time to catch India's chase against New Zealand in Auckland. The target was below 150, but when Tendulkar walked out to open, I got anxious, fidgety, jumpy.
He launched a manic attack on the bowlers. I was not sure if I was watching a real match. I moved around the room, looked for someone to talk to, but everyone was outside, celebrating Holi. I watched the innings with trepidation, a fear that drew me in. Then, when you least expected it, he was out, to a spinner. Caught and bowled. I was relieved in a way that it was over. I wanted to talk about what I had just seen, but there was no one, and we didn't have a phone back then. It was almost like he played that innings just for me. It was the last time I ever watched Tendulkar alone.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
The shot heard around the world
Rohan Sharma: Sachin Tendulkar's career has almost spanned my entire existence, and it wasn't till the 1996 World Cup that I caught my first glimpse of the unassuming boy next door who ripped apart world-class attacks with disdain, and bore the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. His 134 during Operation Desert Storm ranks as one of his finest tons, played against a red-hot Australian team, with a heady mix of deft touches and calculated malice. One shot that stood out was a lofted six back over Michael Kasprowicz's head that seemed to lift higher as the crowd's intensity swelled.
Rohan Sharma is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Give the ball to Tendulkar
George Binoy: I enjoyed watching Sachin Tendulkar most when he was in the field, perhaps because the knot in my stomach when he was batting during the 1990s was too much to overcome. If Tendulkar failed, in all probability so would India. That weight, however, was rarely visible on his face when he batted under a helmet. He just looked focused and determined.
The joy that he said cricket constantly gave him was visible when Tendulkar was bowling. He smiled more, and wore his emotions as batsmen underestimated the degree of his spin and swing. Tendulkar could bowl everything - both kinds of spin, and swing it out and in; another example of his genius.
Six runs to defend off the final over? Don't give it to Kapil Dev, Srinath or Prabhakar, but to Tendulkar.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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