Indian cricketers Harbhajan Singh and MS Dhoni have paid tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, who turned 37 on Saturday. According to Harbhajan, age was "just a number for Paaji [Tendulkar]" while Dhoni said he often joked there was a chance that he might retire before Tendulkar.
Tendulkar is presently recovering from a split webbing and is hoping to be fit for Sunday's IPL final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. Harbhajan said winning the title would be "a wonderful gift from the team and a beautiful way of saying thanks."
"Just look at his [Tendulkar's] wealth of accomplishments in the last six months. The way he is going about his business is just unbelievable," Harbhajan told Times of India. "His hunger for runs is getting bigger by the day and he is also very consistent. He is still enjoying his game and it will be no exaggeration to say that he is leaving all the youngsters behind. To me Sachin is just like a 17-year old. And I want him to be around for as long as possible."
Harbhajan also praised Tendulkar's captaincy in this year's IPL, especially the way he handled the younger players in the Mumbai squad. "Given his larger-than-life image, youngsters are initially in awe of him, but Sachin takes the lead in breaking the ice and making them feel comfortable. He keeps things simple and is always encouraging the younger players. For every youngster in the side, he is just a phone call away. It says a lot about the person."
Dhoni said Tendulkar was the reason he started playing cricket and that he "continues to be a huge source of inspiration". "As far as his career is concerned, he seems to have got the reverse gear going. I have joked before that there is a good chance that I might retire before Tendulkar," Dhoni said. "While Federer's one big wish is to see his twin daughters watch him play at a Grand Slam tournament, Sachin's son Arjun has already had the privilege of watching his father from the stands. That says a lot about his skill and endurance."