Indian Premier League 2011 May 20, 2011

For the love of Sachin

Mumbai's games have been better attended than most in this IPL, thanks to the Tendulkar effect

It is an understatement to say Jaipur is hot at the end of April. The heat is like a living thing, determined to scorch the earth of all other living things. Yet there the Sawai Mansingh Stadium was three weeks ago, with its uncovered stands, already half-full at 2.30pm, a good 90 minutes before the scheduled IPL game. By the time the umpires walked out to the middle, the place was packed with fans eager with anticipation.

Rajasthan Royals typically draw tremendous home support, but on this day it was clear the fans weren't there just for them. The opposing team were Mumbai Indians, and the fans had come to see Sachin Tendulkar. They cheered when he came out to warm up, cheered when he came out for the toss, and cheered when he came out to bat. Such was the reception for Tendulkar that during Rajasthan's next game against Pune Warriors, Shane Warne was moved to say at the toss that it was "nice to be home. They cheer us well here as long as Sachin's not playing."

The faces in the crowd reflected their dual allegiances, literally. One girl had the Rajasthan logo - the double R - painted on her right cheek. On her left, in the same blue paint, she had "Sachin Tendulkar". Unfortunately for the fans, Ashok Menaria had Tendulkar stumped for 7 in the fifth over. Having missed out on a chance to cheer their hero at the crease, the fans produced the loudest roar of the game when Tendulkar caught Rahul Dravid. No opportunity to celebrate India's most cherished cricketer was going to be missed, whatever the situation.

It has been a similar story at stadiums around the country. What the 2011 IPL has made clear is that Tendulkar transcends team loyalties, especially now in the twilight of his career, when it's hard to know if there will be another chance to see him play. The fans want to get a glimpse of him so they can tell their grandchildren: yes, I saw him bat. India's World Cup triumph has added to his aura, making his career appear complete. It was the final piece in the puzzle, the storybook ending, and what we are seeing now amounts to the standing ovation at the end of play.

"People are making an extra effort to be at the ground," Amrit Mathur, the chief executive of the Delhi Daredevils, told ESPNcricinfo. "It is one more chance to see a legend, to see Tendulkar. Because he is Tendulkar, and if you miss out, you might not see him again."

The numbers back up the existence of a "Tendulkar effect". Television ratings for Mumbai have been consistently higher, and their games have attracted more viewers, than those of the other franchises. It is the same story at the box office. Ashish Hemrajani, the founder and chief executive of, which handles ticket sales for four of the 10 franchises, told ESPNcricinfo that all the Mumbai games have been sold out, barring a few early ones. While other teams' sales depend in part on the quality of the opposition and the time of the match, Mumbai, he said, has transcended these factors. "The Mumbai games most certainly sell off quicker."

Neetu Bhatia, who heads, which handles tickets for Pune, said they were selling about 70% of the tickets for each game, with one exception - Mumbai. "It was completely sold out. And not just sold out two days prior but sold out three weeks prior." When it comes to watching Tendulkar, you don't take chances.

"People are making an extra effort to be at the ground. It is one more chance to see a legend, to see Tendulkar. Because he is Tendulkar, and if you miss out, you might not see him again"
Amrit Mathur, Delhi Daredevils CEO

Part of Tendulkar's universal appeal is his consistent excellence, which resonates with fans of all backgrounds. Keshav Joshi, 29, has been watching cricket since he was six years old. In 1996 he went to each of India's games in the World Cup. Having grown up in Pune, he supports the Warriors and the Maharashtra state team, who have had a long, albeit unsuccessful, rivalry with Mumbai in Indian domestic cricket (think of Maharashtra as the Manchester City and Mumbai as the Manchester United of Indian cricket). It is safe to say that Joshi is not a Mumbai fan. But like millions of others, he finds it impossible to set aside his admiration for Tendulkar, the India batsman, in favour of IPL team loyalty.

"I think SRT's fan following is based on his exploits for the Indian team, and although he plays for a different IPL team, deep down I want him to do well even against the Warriors, as long as we win," Joshi said. "The same question could be asked to supporters of the Maharashtra Ranji team. When we play Mumbai, I still want SRT to do well. A lot of it has to do with him showing his mastery irrespective of who he is playing against."

Joshi roots for Tendulkar to score runs against the teams he supports, so he can have "the opportunity of seeing the best batsman on earth play". He even supported Mumbai in the first three IPLs because of Tendulkar and the team's geographical proximity to Pune, but switched loyalties once the Warriors were born. His support for Tendulkar, however, remained intact, as it has for others like him. "A lot of my friends, now that PWI is pretty much out, have begun supporting Mumbai again."

It isn't just the fans who revere Tendulkar either. Mathur, the Delhi chief executive, says it extends to the players who play with and against Tendulkar. "The people in the squads on either side - they consider it a privilege that they are in a game with Tendulkar." Signs of that were evident during the World Cup. R Ashwin, the India offspinner who plays for Chennai Super Kings, said playing with Tendulkar was a moment he had waited for. After his first World Cup game, Ashwin took a stump out of the ground and got Tendulkar to sign it as a memento.

It is an aura that has grown not only with the sheer weight of Tendulkar's achievements but also because of how he has carried himself as a person. "He is one icon who has conducted himself very well," Mathur said. "No taint in his conduct or in his behaviour or in a way he has carried himself, not just as a cricketer but as a personality and as a role model. He has reached a stage I think it will be impossible for anyone [else] to reach."

Mumbai has two games left in the league stage and at least two more playoff games. Two of those games will be played in Mumbai, but wherever Tendulkar plays, it will sound and feel like home.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gopal on May 23, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    atleast two more playoff games for MI ? What were you thinking when you wrote this article ? MI can still win IPL4 and they are capable of doing it. However, lines like these makes me feel that the writers are not completely neutral.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    some people hate sachin(even though that number may be 1 in a 1000....)just coz they cant digest the amount of attention he gets n coz of his larger than life personality.i can understand their problem and then they put on odd stats and comparisons and make them look foolish.they would have done d same if he was not sach but someone else...

  • aashish on May 22, 2011, 17:47 GMT

    @KaunD..yes as Quazar explained Sachin's SR is over 54 in when i said Dravid's SR in ODIs is close to Tendulkar's test SR..i didnt mean the exact numbers but just the importance of scoring runs @ a decent SR..But here is the fact now..Dravid has faced most number of balls in test cricket 28492 ,even more than Sachin's 27145+(they dont have the record of balls faced for11 runs he scored against Eng in 90,so overall may be he faced 27160)...and in these 28492 balls Dravid scored 18 sixes (even Zaheer and Harbhajan have more facing just 2000 and 3000 balls respectively)and his SR of 42 is least among all the batsmen who have more than 8000 runs in tests .Believe it or not but India drawn so many tests from a winning position because of super slow Dravid..If he won some matches ,He was the cause of lost or drawn maches from the winning ones.Also in ODIs his SR is least among the players who have more than 8000 runs.No wonder he have very few man of the match awards in both form.

  • Bheem on May 22, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    @KaunD... Dravid has been a tremendous asset for Indian cricket, so I'm not gonna diss him the way you diss Tendulkar. But you can't just look at 2-3 years around 2004 and belittle Tendulkar; since you should know that his tennis elbow and other injuries had diminished his performances at that time. Look at the rest of his 21 year career to judge his contribution to Indian cricket. And forget stats, what about inspiring a Sehwag, a Yuvraj, a Dhoni? Virtually every single aggressive batsman India has produced in the last 10 years says that they grew up watching Tendulkar dominate bowlers in the '90s and wanted to emulate him. (Btw, Tendulkar's career SR in Tests is over 55, not 48; and his average in Test wins is close to 70)

  • Kaundinya on May 22, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    @ahmed unatian: dude. Dravid lost most man of the matches if you think that way just because he was the second best in those wins. Remember sourav's 183. Dravid made 145. Remember sachin's 186. Dravid made 153. remember laxman's 281 Dravid made 180. See it looks like the best is changing but the second best is always the same guy. thank god for the Adelide test or people like you would have been saying Dravid never dontributed to Indian wins. Silly as it might seem it is easy to like tendulkar when he has the highest scores in all formats. But I wonder as to how many people had the support that Tendulkar had when he was not performing well in 2004. I say none. Dravid was removed when he was doing well. Ganguly was removed when he is not doing well. But the logic never came in when tendulkar was not doing well!!

  • Kaundinya on May 22, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    @Aashish_goyal : Dravid's average in worlds cups happen to be more than Tendulkar's with much lesser scores made by him agianst minnows. Dravid's one day strike is similar to Sachin's test strike?? which world are you from. When did Sachin strike at 72 in tests. I don't remember.His strike is 48 if I remember properly which is 6 more than Dravid. Dravid's average in tests won by India under Ganguly happens to be 100 and he happens to make 23% of the runs during that time where as Sachin's contribution in wins comes down to an average of 32. Weird isn't it. We won test in England , Australia, and West indies mainly due to Dravid's contributions not Tendulkar's. Go back to record books if you doubt me. Comparing Tendulkar to Dravid is like comparing a selfish run machine to a selfless match winner.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    Good piece. Can't imagine what the world would be like without him. It's like not having God.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    @MaruthuDelft............Gayle has played much better than Gilly. as he has played at a better SR and at a better avg..........also Gayle's ODI avg is 40 and of GIlly is 35................Except for 1 100 Gilly did nothing in IPL.........Gilly has particular weaknesses which any team can exploit .................Surprisingly but it is true that Gilly is very weak on leg stump Half volley of Pacers...........Gilly is too prone to miss out / in swinger on middle stump......Gilly and Gayle both's short selection is too reckless and comes off good against avg bowling ......................Richards yes was a champion as is Sachin his record speaks for him and is at par with Sachin (his rate based stats are slightly better than Sachin) whereas his cummulative stats are too low bcz of too short carrer..longer carrer of sachin means Ind had 1 Richards who retired after 12 yrs and another Richards is playing 12 yrs now which is big adv to team. Sachin Richards & Bradman best batsmen ever...

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2011, 20:17 GMT

    @MaruthuDelft Gilchrist has flourished against pace, Cant even play spin properly, even Sir Don is far behind Sachin.

  • rahul on May 21, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    @MaruthuDelft boy there is a word called consistency in cricket ....which is most impotent factor of batsman's which SACHIN is the best there are many shots which SRT can play and no one other even your 'great gilli' cannot play ....thats a fact..u like gilli style of playing fair enough thats yous choice....but many others choice is SRT ....even you know that..

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