'If you try to hit a six, I will hit you on the bum'
In February 1988, Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli ransacked 664 runs in a world-record partnership for Shardashram Vidyamandir against St Xavier's High School, in the Harris Shield semi-final at Azad Maidan, Mumbai.
"Once we got into the groove, Tendlya and me toyed with the attack," Kambli said earlier this year. "After every boundary and six, we would sing Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go".
Like Kambli, a number of batsmen down the years have enjoyed unforgettable partnerships with Tendulkar. And many of them have gone on to narrate snatches of conversation that transpired during these passages of play.
Manoj Prabhakar was at the other end when Tendulkar scored his maiden Test hundred at Old Trafford in 1990.
"There were no specific instructions from the dressing room," Prabhakar said. "I had only one thing on my mind: partnership. But I knew I had to tell the 17-year-old boy to curb his shots, as the ball was swinging all over the place. The moment England decided to take the second new ball, I went up to Sachin and cautioned him. I advised him to be a little careful against Angus Fraser. But when he dispatched the second ball to the boundary, I just decided to let him play his own game and enjoy his batting."
VVS Laxman had the best seat in the house for the bulk of what many consider to be Tendulkar's finest one-day knock, the 143 against Australia in Sharjah. "That was the day I saw someone actually in the zone," Laxman said. "I was talking to him between overs, but I know he wasn't listening to me."
Tendulkar's longest-standing batting partner was Sourav Ganguly; they not only formed the most successful opening partnership in ODIs, but also scored 12,400 runs together in 103 Tests and 238 ODIs. Speaking to India Today magazine in 2007, Ganguly said their on-field partnerships involved each sizing up the other's game.
"I could easily make out, there were days when he was too pumped up and would try to hit the ball too hard," Ganguly said. "And I would go from the other end and say you are looking too pumped up and are trying to hit the ball too hard, so that's why you are not timing it. And he would understand. He would see me setting up a bowler - and he would come across and tell me he could spot it, so 'don't do it too much'." Tendulkar was the more voluble talker among the two, often launching into what he thought was Bengali. "All the time, it's the wrong Bengali - 11 years and he still speaks it wrong," Ganguly said.
Rahul Dravid, on the other hand, recalled a different side of Tendulkar during his time with him in the middle. "I don't think we talked too much," he said. "We would have conversations, especially when I was at three and Sachin had just come in. So for a little bit of time, when we first got together, there would be a little bit more chat than ever…
"Sometimes, when I was young, I found it little bit intimidating, because you had this guy who had all these achievements and scored so many runs and was a great player to come and ask, 'What do you think? What is happening? And what is this bowler bowling?' I was like, 'Should I be telling him? What do I do?' I am playing my fourth Test match or fifth Test match. What should I be telling him?' There was a lot of conversation initially. But as the innings went on, we never really felt [like talking] unless something came up that we needed to talk about."
Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar combined for more than 6000 runs in all formats. Their highest partnership was the 336-run stand in Multan in 2004, when Tendulkar is said to have told Sehwag: "If you try to hit a six, I will hit you on the bum."
Here's Sehwag version of events: "He gave me a simple example - about my Melbourne innings in 2003, when I tried to hit a six on 195 and got out. Till then India were in a good position, but after that we couldn't make a big score and we lost the Test. So he made me realise my mistake. That is why I didn't hit sixes in Multan, but when I was near 300 I told him that I was going to hit Saqlain [Mushtaq] and he could hit me on my bum!"
Sehwag and Tendulkar amassed 4387 ODI runs together, which included several matches when they opened the batting. One of the more memorable matches when they walked out to kickstart the innings was in the World Cup in 2003, against Pakistan in Centurion. In John Wright's Indian Summers, the former India coach fondly recalled a conversation between Tendulkar and Sehwag as they were about to begin the chase. "As our openers walked down the long flight of stairs to begin the chase, Viru told Sachin, 'Don't say anything to me about my batting except "go and lagao" - basically, go for it. Sachin replied, 'I'm going to get these guys.'"