Tendulkar v Pakistan
What is your first memory of Tendulkar?
It's funny, because I don't think I can remember the first time I consciously noted Tendulkar, or suddenly became aware of him. That's not to do with how long he has been around but more with how omnipresent he became (who remembers how "God" came about, for example?). He was kind of always there. I first understood how good he might be when he scored that Test hundred at Old Trafford against England in 1990. I also remember, strangely, that it took India and him ages to understand how to best use him in an ODI.
What fascinated you about him in his early days?
His hair and his voice, which were both so impossibly boyish, and yet he batted fully like an adult. Also, at that time, thinking simply that the best player in the side made the best captain, I couldn't quite work out why he wasn't a better captain than he was.
Talk about the experience of first watching him bat live in a stadium...
I'm pretty sure the first time I saw him live was in Karachi for the first ODI of that 2003-04 series. He was overshadowed comprehensively by Virender Sehwag (and a memorable atmosphere and crowd), which, for Pakistani viewers, would remain a pattern through Tendulkar's career against them. The first time I saw him in a Test live was in Multan that same tour, against empty stands. Again Sehwag's triple overshadowed him, but he made 194, and though it made big news for how it ended (or didn't), it felt like such an inevitable hand. Tendulkar, bat, bowlers, big hundred. It was a completely controlled and ruthless bit of batting, a little disappointing actually in that it did not make the hairs on your arm stand up.
As a fan of Pakistan cricket, what were your thoughts when he was batting?
Mostly the thoughts were about just how technically accomplished he was. Pristine, I remember thinking usually, these clean punches off the back foot through cover, text-book drives, lovely wristy clips off his pads. He was just so smooth, so without edges. Pakistan has produced some great batsmen, but Hanif apart, few, if any of them, have been technically as sound as this.
What were your impressions of him (and the reactions he evoked) during the 2011 World Cup?
I only saw him live in the semi-final in Mohali, but it was good to see him win it, because his ODI batting over the years deserved it. I think my favourite innings of Sachin remains the 98 he made against Pakistan in Centurion, because it felt like a kind of release for him against bowlers who had more often than not managed success against him. Pakistan's great, good and not-so-great have troubled him, which explains a pretty poor Test record (just two hundreds in 18 Tests). But that Centurion innings was something else, especially the way it began and the messages it sent out to the Pakistani fast bowling. Sehwag would take crueler advantage over the next decade, but Tendulkar began it. So, to see him finally win a World Cup, even if it came eight years later, and to do it in his home city, you couldn't help but enjoy the sense of that achievement.
Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National. He was speaking to Siddhartha Vaidyanathan