Sachin Tendulkar's retirement October 10, 2013

Tendulkar's Mumbai roots

In his first three first-class innings for Mumbai, Sachin Tendulkar made 247 runs. Former Mumbai team-mates share their memories of a prodigy

Even before Sachin Tendulkar made his first-class debut against Gujarat at the age of 15 almost a quarter of a century ago, he was considered a boy wonder on the maidans of Mumbai. Yet, the ease with which Tendulkar graduated to the next level was astonishing for his seniors at the time.

Sulakshan Kulkarni, Mumbai's coach for the last two seasons, was one of them. In fact, Kulkarni had been supposed to bat at No 4 in Sachin's debut match. However, once the captain Lalchand Rajput and Alan Sippy put on a 159-run partnership for the second wicket, the batting order was changed. In walked the schoolboy and, until Tendulkar returned to the dressing room after an unbeaten century, Kulkarni was kept waiting.

Kulkarni had been surprised with the power Tendulkar had generated in his stroke-making, especially after what he had seen during a Kanga League match while playing for Karnatak Sporting Association against Tendulkar's Shivaji Park Youngsters.

"Our (KSA's) attack boasted of a couple of Ranji seamers, so it was a tough task for anyone but Tendulkar was flawless in his defence," Kulkarni said. "He showed remarkable temperament for a 14 or 15-year-old. Cut to Ranji Trophy, and the kind of power he was producing in his drives gave no indication of his age. He was ready for the big league."

By the time the new ball was taken by Gujarat captain Dhansukh Patel, Tendulkar had passed fifty. And soon after, he was involved in a run-out with Rajput, who missed his century by a one run. "I told him, 'Don't worry about me, you get a hundred'. And he got a hundred on debut," said Rajput, now the India A coach.

Any other youngster may have been distracted after a run-out that dismissed his captain on 99. Not Tendulkar. In fact, he changed his tempo to such a degree that he "raced" to century.

"It was a quick century, and was the need of the hour since the league games used to be three-day affairs then," Kulkarni said. "Some of the square drives he played were amazing. And I will never forget the manner in which he completed his century - a cover drive that sped through the inner ring of fielders to the fence."

Tendulkar's mettle was tested again in the next match against Saurashtra. Playing away from home, Bombay lost Rajput and Sippy with no runs on the board. Tendulkar then bailed them out with a 133-run stand with opener Shishir Hattangadi. In the second innings, the pair put on 81 runs with Tendulkar batting at No 3.

"The wicket had started deteriorating when he walked towards the crease. Left-arm spinner Virbhadra Gohil was bowling," Hattangadi recalled. "While crossing me at the non-striker's end he asked, 'Udatoy ka? (Is the ball bouncing?)'. I replied, 'Udat naahiye, waltoy' (it's turning, not bouncing). He was dropped off the first ball at covers and then, by the time the over ended, he would have been batting on 20 or so. It was jaw-dropping."

While he was mature beyond his years on the field, he was a typical teenager in many ways off it. During the away game, Tendulkar shared a room with Suru Nayak, the senior most member of the squad. "He could sleep all through the night during the match. He would keep on mumbling something about batting the whole night. He was obsessed with cricket," Nayak, now BCCI's cricket operations manager, said.

Nayak recalled an incident during the team's train journey back from Rajkot. "He was carrying a diary and he walked up to each and every member of the squad and noted down our addresses and telephone numbers so that he could get in touch with us if required," he said.

Hattangadi summed up the impressions the teenager had on the team. "At an age when we're worried whether our child is ready to cross the road on his own, he [Tendulkar] was ready to take on the world," Hattangadi said. "He was an affable young boy. All of us were convinced in those first two weeks that he was a special talent and we hoped that the talent wouldn't be hampered by luck, injury and destiny. I don't think he has let us down even a wee bit."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KK on October 12, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    @Shashipathy Katikaneni: Sachin is a true Bharat Ratna. Bharat Ratna is highest Indian 'Civilan' award. Look at the list of 41 people who received it so far and you would know. If film personalities can get it then sports person definitely deserve to be there. There are a whole lot of gallantry awards (e.g. Param Vir Chakra) for the men in uniform.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    A nostalgic piece,sometime one wishes the clock stops,but if it didn't we wouldn't have seen an extraordinary career

  • K. on October 12, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    Woke up with the WORST hangover of my life - and it's got nothing to do with alcohol.

  • Rakesh on October 11, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Looking at that debut match scorecard I wonder if Sachin had been sent earlier they would have won. 7 over 53 is a cake walk nowadays but even then the boy wonder would have gone for it. There would never be another Sachin. Other modern greats have someone like them but Sachin is sachin. Goodluck fo r your future. Hope you score a lot in ur last 2 matches and also India wins so that some crictics can keep quite.

  • Dummy4 on October 11, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    Very good article insights of raw Sachin's cricketing days!

  • roger on October 10, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Wonderful cricket and a great human ambassdor. Rightly chosen as MP so that his next career is in line. Hope he does wonders just like he did in cricket field.

  • Dummy4 on October 10, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    I miss u,love u sahin paaji

  • Dummy4 on October 10, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Please don't ever use Bharat Ratna and any sports person in the same sentence. What about all those in Uniform who have given their lives and are putting their lives in danger on a daily basis. Cricket is bigger than that?? Yes, Sachin brought lot of good to Indian Cricket and joy to many Unbiased Cricket Fans. But Bharat Ratna? NOPE. We are all blessed that the name of one of our own will forever be brought up in discussions on every continent about who is/was the best batsman. That is good enough. There cannot be a higher honor than that.

  • Chetan on October 10, 2013, 18:58 GMT

    Sachin is BHARAT RATNA..Loved every part in India. More to Mumbai naturally.