Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category


There was a moment during Leicester City’s unveiling as Premier League Champions at the King Power stadium following their victory against Everton. While players were taking turns to lift the trophy some of them had to literally drag a reluctant player from the background, thrust him with the trophy and make him lift it while all along he was blushing with the new found fame. It was N’Golo Kante, the midfield destroyer around whom most of team’s victories was scripted. Leicester City’s extra ordinary tale from bottom of the premier league to champions in a matter of a solitary year is filled with sub plots of such individuals who raised themselves from obscurity to one of the biggest titles that they could ever hope to hold, English Premier League Winners. But it all begins with a manager, the perineal bridesmaid who has finally become the bride.

Claudio Ranieri finally has that league trophy that has eluded him in all of the 26 years that he thrust himself in managing a football club. He is to the premier league what Goran Ivanisevic was for Wimbledon. When Ranieri was announced as Leicester Manager at the beginning of the season following the controversial yet successful Nigel Pearson, there were a lot of eye brows raised in doubt which included yours truly. Despite managing some big clubs has been always identified as a cup winner than a league winner. But why would they turn to a man who had failed so badly in his previous assignment in Greece? There was a sense of Leicester simply trying to stay afloat in the league or they just did not have many choices. Lest we know that they were making a coup very similar to the ones they pulled off in bringing in the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante. And how well has he done! He turned a team of mostly second choices and discards into a fearless well-knit unit where everybody knew what they were doing and played for each other than for themselves. I guess this is what he had always wanted. Not a top team of glorious individuals but a team that he could mould. Reminds us a bit of Valencia and Rafa Benitez doesn’t it? And how in the world did he make 4-4-2 relevant again? All it took was a compact back four and Kante with excellent support act from Danny Drinkwater. Finally, a good old fashioned English football. It helped that the foxes barely played more than a game a week for most part of the campaign. But so did Liverpool in the title chasing 2013-14 season. We all know how that ended! Brendan Rodgers first fell under the Chelsea bus and tried to close an outrageous 12 goal gap with Manchester City with two games to spare. Ranieri simply chose to play the opponent by their merit. Experience do counts.

Perhaps nobody epitomises the fearless spirit of the foxes than their poster boy, Jamie Vardy. From the interviews he gave to college students as a non-league player to being mentioned in awe by the likes of Gary Linaker is no mean feat. His searing pace, finishing ability and that touch of audacity while leading the line for Leicester made him the face of Leicester city and rightfully so. But none of this would have happened without the outstanding Riyad Mahrez who deservedly won the PFA player of the year. His trickery and skill has been the real difference to the Midland club’s rise to the pinnacle of English Football. Despite all their creative ability, the foxes’ fans owe a lot to their two colossal central defenders in captain Wes Morgan and Robert Huth who put their bodies on their line week in and week out while also coming up with the occasional but all important goals. Leicester City was relentless throughout the season but the key to that was staying injury free (which they did) and Ranieri’s vision to play a game on its merit and give enough respect to the opposition but at the same time closing the games out when it is done and dusted. No extravagance and focus only on crossing the line game after game. At the same time, it did not look like Chelsea’s parking the bus trick.

The real question however will rise now. Will Leicester City be able to maintain this? Purely on gut instinct I feel that they will most likely finish outside the top four next season. Will they be able to do well in the champions league? If they get out of their group, it will be a miracle. But there is no doubt that they will enjoy their football and their fearless attitude will give them new fans but Ranieri for all his experience will know that it will be tough for them in Europe. Are we in for more surprises from the Tinker man and his fearless foxes? Because on face value any European standard forward will shred both Morgan and Huth to pieces and if they get out in group stages, then a long journey in the Europa league awaits. They won the league by fielding fewer players than any other team. Will they be able to sustain the pressure of playing in four tournaments and 60 games a year? Will Claudio Ranieri and Leicester City do a Nigel Clough and Nottingham Forest?

Their first step will be in tying their star players to long term contracts and secondly in bringing quality backups. The scouting team that spotted the likes of Vardy, Mahrez and Kante will have do overtime to bring in new players of such promise. There are a million questions but now is not the time to answer them. Now is a time to celebrate one of the greatest sporting triumphs of all time. A reinstating of the belief that it’s not always about money and that hard work, focus and dedication still has relevance in modern day success stories. This is not a fairy tale. This is a tale of one team unwilling to give up and ready to fight like their lives were dependent on it. Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri has done it. The team did not bully their opponents nor did their manager played mind games with other managers and players. They just played good football. And for that we thank you.

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Niranjan Kuppan & Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

Andy S Grove, Intel’s former CEO, writes in his award winning book Only the Paranoid Survive that “The Person who is the star of the previous era is often the last one to adopt to change, the last one to yield to logic of a strategic inflection point, and tends to fall harder than most”.

A strategic inflection point, he goes on to describe, is “a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end”.

It is fair to say that football clubs, these days, can be looked up on as businesses – ones that thrive on investment, by virtue of which trophies and fans are won. Most football clubs have built their successes based on their past, historical times during which the breath of a club was stronger than its bank balance.

The bank balance of a club, today, plays as much a role in its success as it has always done in a sport like Formula One. Catheram and Marusia, for instance, struggle because they aren’t financially as sound as some of their other competitors, and the entire cycle is influenced as a result of that. If money can buy success these days, it is important to have the right people who put the money in to good use.

Football isn’t very dis-similar. With a plethora of investors throwing their currencies on clubs across Europe, clubs are increasingly becoming aware of the need to spend big, and more importantly, spend wise. Gone are those days where one could point fingers at the likes of Manchester City, or Chelsea, or PSG. Their argument would be simple – they’ve invested the money a lot more wisely than some of the other ‘big’ clubs.

This brings me back to what Andy S Grove stresses, repeatedly, in his book. When a business achieves success, the investment comes in. The leader of the organization is expected to put the money in to good use assessing the business circumstances – market needs, competition, future trends and so on and so forth.

There’s an interesting analogy that leaders use – that a great leader would have a microscope in one eye, and a telescope in the other. Try it and I’ll be surprised if you don’t get a headache. What this means is: a leader is aware of the short term goals that the business needs to achieve, yet aware of the long term vision for the organization.

Out of ideas? A common sight these days with Brendan Rodgers

Out of ideas? A common sight these days with Brendan Rodgers © Daily Mail

In footballing terms, a long term vision could be to improve the standards of a club’s academy thereby nurturing players who would become first team regulars in the long run. Or investing in young talent, through the help of a scouting system, from outside the club before their market value exponentially rises. This would save a lot of costs in the long run because the primary needs are being served by the organization from within.

A short term vision, on the other hand, would be taking the necessary measures to ensure that for the following season, the resources are intact to match the club’s success over the previous year, if not out-perform. These could be players who fill in to address a void due to the loss of a key resource, or coaches that provide valuable back-room addition to improve on aspects where there were noticeable deficiencies.

Let me get to the point. Liverpool FC find themselves at the helm of an inflexion point. The success that the 2013-14 season had bought the club, instead of leap-frogging a desire to reach higher standards, has sent the club on a roller coaster ride, in reverse gear.

I am not seeking an opportunity to blamestorm here, I am a fan, and I will always ride through the highs and lows of the Liverpool family. What bemuses me, though, is a set of aberrant errors made by, understandably, a manager at the start of his career – very young by footballing standards.

So let us begin with the long term vision. Liverpool’s academy has historically been a renowned one that has seen its graduates, to quote a few from the contemporary era, like Owen, Fowler, Gerrard, Carragher and Sterling, albeit through different circumstances, rise to great heights in the footballing circles. There is sufficient evidence to support the fact that the yesteryear managers of Liverpool FC, even until the likes of Houllier and Benitez had a strong team marshalling the academy to churn our first team material graduates.

Although the academy can’t be faulted for its deficiencies, it is clear that Rodger’s inclination towards not using them points our fingers towards two possible explanations: one, that the support system that once existed through the likes of ex-Liverpool players, Steve Heighway and Phil Thompson for instance, has robbed the academy of the passion that otherwise would’ve been driven through men who knew the club best.

The other explanation could be his own reluctance, for reasons he knows best. We aren’t qualified to comment on this, nevertheless, this will rob Rodgers off one of a characteristic that could have otherwise backed him during these turbulent times. Every football fan derives great pleasure from seeing their academy graduates being tested on the biggest arena – regardless of whether they succeed or fail.

There’s still hope on players like Flanagan, Ibe, Wisdom and Rossiter who will be expected by the fans to feature in greater prominence in the seasons ahead. This does not deter fans from questioning some of Rodger’s decisions to invest in the transfer market, heavily, on players who are similar to those graduating from the academy with promise. Joao Carlos Tiexiera and Suso are examples of creative, attacking talent who could have been nurtured, instead of investing for similar roles heavily in the transfer market.

This brings us to the short term vision. Given the ascent to Champions league football, and fuelled ambitions that called for the Premier League title after over two decades worth of wait, there were two concerns that the club had to address: lack of squad depth, and replacing arguably the best player of the Premier League over the course of the 2013-14 season.

Defeat to Crystal Palace left most fans hoping that this would be rock bottom

Defeat to Crystal Palace left most fans hoping that this would be rock bottom © LiverpoolEcho

Metaphorically, Steven Gerrard may be the engine of the team, but the team wouldn’t have run had it not been for Suarez and his extraordinary feats. It would be unfair to question Rodgers tactics of investing heavily around other positions – yes, the squad did need the depth but not without replacing the engine. It hardly matters if an aeroplane has a new landing gear – the engine needs to be new, if not newly overhauled.

Blame it on Liverpool’s recent branding as a second tier footballing city, Rodgers’ experience, rather the lack of it, as a manager of a top football club or the reluctance to spend big on a particular player, the summer transfer window of Liverpool FC resembled that of Spurs last season. Failure to learn from Tottenham’s debacle of trying to replace Bale with an extra team bus had fuelled comparisons sooner than say, at the end of the season.

Rodgers would wish he could eat his words from last year when he’d, arrogantly so, stated that any team that had spent over a 100 million should be competing for the title. He finds himself sailing the same boat, raising more questions than answers to the ever-demanding audience of the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger, despite his record of signing young talents, invested in experienced players who could deliver from day one – over the last few years, names like Mertesacker, Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud resonate with this theme.

Balotelli and Lallana came in with proven Premier League Experience. Their starts couldn't have been more contrasting. ©  LiverpoolEcho

Balotelli and Lallana came in with proven Premier League Experience. Their starts couldn’t have been more contrasting. © LiverpoolEcho

Rodgers, on the other hand, barring an unwanted Balotelli, and Lallana, cannot claim to have signed  ‘first team material’. This would beg the question as to why Liverpool were unable to sign a ‘marquee player’ this summer to take over Suarez’s mantle. Whether you blame it on Rodgers ambition, rather the lack of it, or the brand value Liverpool carries today, the manager is answerable.

To sum it up, Rodgers’ failings over the last few months is indicative of a ship that is about to hit an iceberg. What is clear now is that the iceberg is visible, the question is: who is going to steer the ship away from an impending disaster?

Onwards and upwards.


Sports can be such a different career in a lot of ways. Sports persons peak at an age when young men and women take baby steps in their careers. They retire in an age where every other professional attain their peak powers. The moment their bodies don’t respond to the mind, they call it quits. Yet in such a short career span, sport can be so satisfying and fulfilling. As a professional sport, dominated by club games, football can be so demanding on a player’s body and mind. Yet with their endurance and skill set, they manage to illuminate our hearts as well as the stadiums they play in. This particular season in English football, many players who would be branded as greats in the not so distant future and one manager who is probably the greatest of them all, chose to call it a day. Here is a look at those amazing people.

He was the most naturally gifted striker that England has ever produced. Fast as a blur, boyish charm and with the kind of instinct inside the box, he was a nightmare for defenders around the world. But post his explosive start and prolific scoring for Liverpool, Michael Owen never really found that gear at Real Madrid where he found his chances limited among the galaxy of stars at the Bearnabeu. His career hit rock bottom after a plethora of injuries he sustained during his stay at St James’ Park. But that did not stop Sir Alex Ferguson from signing him (Being a Reds fan, I was livid to say the least).  Though he played fewer matches during his time at Manchester Unted, he did make his mark with a signature last minute goal in that amazing Manchester derby. Despite his move to United, he is still my favorite striker. Two moments still stays fresh in memory, that amazing goal at the ’98 World Cup game against Argentina and his brace in the FA cup final against Arsenal in 2001 where the Gunners did not lose to Liverpool but to Michael Owen.

A season of goodbyes, none bigger than Sir Alex Furguson.

He would probably go down as one of the last one club player in the premier league. The great wall of Liverpool, Jamie Carragher’s legacy lies in his loyalty, commitment, using maximum use of one’s potential, fighting instinct and most of all, being the ultimate team man. He was the bedrock of Liverpool’s defense for the past 15 years and every time I see his name on the team sheet I feel secure and assured. Images of an exhausted Carra fighting cramps but still throwing his body around against a marauding Serginho in 30 tiring minutes of extra time at the Champions  Trophy finals in 2005 still stands out. Wonder if anyone can replicate that.

He retired a year ago only to come back at his boss’ request. Though he had a very ordinary season by his high standards, one can’t take away the fact that Paul Scholes is one of the strongest pillars on which lies the museum of those glittering trophies that United won in the Ferguson Era. United will sorely miss and will need a midfield general that was Scholes. Who is going to deliver those killer passes from deep in the midfield? Who is going to dictate the game? Can Michael Carrick step it up?

He is a superstar in more ways than one. Despite not being an exceptionally talented player, with his dead ball skills and that precise, defense splitting pass, he was such a potent weapon in any team’s midfield. But David Beckham’s footballing legacy lies beyond the pitch. He was an icon, a poster boy who drove people, especially women to watch the game. Though the game is much bigger than him, he became the reason why a lot of people watched football. That is something very few people can do. You can talk about Dennis Bergkamp’s technical acumen, laud Steven Gerrard’s leadership or wonder how cool Alan Shearer is every time he puts it past a keeper. But you always need a Beckham to make people watch all that in the first place. He was football’s brand ambassador.

The English Premier League has indeed lost its sheen a bit after the decline and retirements of so many greats in recent years. When I first started to watch the game seriously, I remember the great battles between two amazing quartets. Sir Alex Ferguson’s trump cards Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelroy for Manchester United against Arsene Wenger’s invincible geniuses Robert Pires, Patrick Viera, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry for Arsenal. When will we ever get to see something like that again?

And now the biggie, the actual reason why most of you are reading this article. Being a Reds fan it is such a difficult thing to talk, let alone praise someone from 40 miles away, especially one who vowed to knock Liverpool off their perch and did that successfully. But of late, Sir Alex Ferguson is held in such high esteem that it’s okay to do so. Looking at him from beyond my mental borders, I have to say, “Thanks Fergie”! I remember my time in Manchester when I used to work at the Theatre of Dreams as a bartender, interacting with the club’s long standing members. They spoke so fondly of Sir Alex and how he is the source of all the glittering trophies that begs for space in the Museum downstairs and that no matter who comes and goes, as long as he is there United will be fine. I wonder if they can still say that next season.  Yes they do have a credible replacement in David Moyes, handpicked by Sir Alex himself, but it remains to be seen how the Red Devils play from here. Of course in all those interactions, I had to put up with a lot of RED faced poking, making a mockery of Liverpool’s current form and I had to endure all that with a straight face. Damn me and my dignity! I also vividly recall the aura that he carried. I remember this one time in the 1969 Suite inside Old Trafford where I was working, suddenly there was a buzz around the place. It was strange because I already saw Christiano Ronaldo, Nemaja Vidic and Ryan Giggs walk into the suite a while back and it was all normal. But this time there was a lot of buzz and this time it was Sir Alex himself. In a flash, the whole place transformed into some sort of a hypnotized magic hut. Everyone, including the players themselves was looking at him and only at him as he moved from table to table greeting the members. That aura is carried only by one other sporting icon that I know;  a little man who got the most British of all crowds in Brighton buzzing when he walked in during a tour match, a certain Sachin Tendulkar. Very few personalities justify this increasingly over used term, but from the next season “Football will never be the same again”.

This season significantly closes the chapter of the end of a beautiful era in EPL. With only the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Cole & Ferdinand left, let’s hope that the Suarezs, the Carricks, the Matas, the Hazards, the Wilsheres, the Bales and the Walcotts will step up and become the next set of greats to have played the beautiful game. There certainly is talent but it also needs careful nurturing. This is where I hope the Rodgers’, the Villas-Boas’, the Martinez’, the Ladrup’s and the Mourinho’s will step it up.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The game of cricket will be left poorer when the curtains are drawn on the Year 2012. It isn’t as much about the retirement of four of cricket’s greatest servants, as it is about the virtues they possessed.

Great sportsmen have seldom been vehement about how they want to retire. “I want to retire on a high,” some would say, with more than a hint of melodrama. Some retire placidly, with poise. Some are shown the door, mercilessly, in cultures where empathy ceases to exist. And some are slowly nudged towards the questions of their futures, with hope that the message is conveyed.

Towards the twilight of their careers, champions often find themselves living in a profoundly different world populated by fans-turned-critics, journalists with poison-laden ink pens and ‘advisors’ of a truculent variety. Insinuations fester while every act on the field is observed under a microscope, scrutinized and mock-obituaries written. After all, recent statistics will remain the principal standard by which players are judged.

In countries like India, where resources (in other words, talented players) aren’t limited, the question that lingers around asks if it is worth investing (again) in a successful past over a hopeful future. It has happened in sport – some even come out of retirement because they ‘miss’ the sport too much (I’m not talking about Pakistani cricketers here).

They miss the competitiveness, the adhesion. Paul Scholes, for one, went out on a high and was welcomed back with open arms when he decided to return to Old Trafford. I doubt if anyone from the Premier League can pass the ball with the pin-point accuracy that he possesses at his age. Michael Schumacher’s tale, on the other hand, paints a different picture. To say that his return was underwhelming isn’t harsh, although it wasn’t, in theory, a disaster.

On the other hand, when champions begin to get a sense of feel that they are the brick wall between a young talent and a regular place in the starting XI, the sensible ones make wise decisions. Cricketers continue to ply their trade in T20 leagues, and footballers move to the MLS or, in some cases, Australia. There is a sense that the advent of T20 cricket has caused a certain lassitude, that all is not over if one’s curtains in the international setup is closed. But this can’t be taken on face value.

Yes, solace can be gained from the fact that we’d still witness a Laxman or Dravid in IPL colors. Or a Tendulkar, more crucially, in whites. But when you start saving up for the things that money can’t buy, the memories that remain linger around long enough to make you miss it.

Beyond Men. Demi-Gods for most. © The Guardian, UK

And you end up waiting for the right antidote – in Dravid’s case, the emergence of Pujara (as premature as it may sound) acts as a safety net, while Kohli’s ODI exploits provide a layer of comfort given Tendulkar’s absence henceforth. In some cases, the void may never be filled – the pace department, for example. Or to an extent, even spin.

West Indies, and more recently, Australian cricket have found it a challenge to fill voids vacated by legends. Transition is never easy – some plan for it in advance, some realize it the day the inevitable strikes.  You could extend this to beyond sport.

Narayanamurthy’s exit from Infosys created a cataclysm what today is known as – well, still Infosys, but with an uncertain management structure and vision. Hewlett Packard isn’t the same ever since Mark Hurd was shown the door. Oracle was the beneficiary. And Larry Ellison never misses out an opportunity to laugh at those who’d sent him an early Christmas card.

After all, a player is most missed when, in his or her career, he or she had done something that had, or likely would have, a long-term effect on the sport he or she played. Jonty Rhodes revolutionized the art of fielding. David Beckham show-cased what could be done with a dead ball on a football field. Usain Bolt demonstrated that there’s more to two legs than we’d have ever imagined possible. And so on.

And when 2012 comes to a close, cricket fans will remember four men who’d continue to remain as the epitome of four different virtues: Dravid for his patience, Laxman for his sublimity, Ponting for his grit and Tendulkar for carrying the burden of a billion hopes.

As Justin Langer said: “He just spat the blood. And continued to field.”

A common virtue, one that is easily forgotten, relates to their deterrent attitudes towards the media prior to their retirements. Although most of us got the feeling that media pressure undid them, in truth, it didn’t. It is a virtue that took them through their highs and lows during their illustrated careers – to defeat the pens with their bats when it counted most. And to retire with a sense of pride with the focus on having represented their country meaning a lot more than any of the statistics that glorifies their careers.

Cricket may never get an opportunity, in the near future, to witness these virtues given how the game has changed dramatically over the last decade. Inventiveness is the new buzz-word, with batsmen attempting physics-defying shots against the poor bowlers of the modern era. And who knows what the future holds? Not many back in the early part of the 1900s, during the Industrial Revolution, would’ve perceived the Mobile Revolution of the 21st century.

But amidst all changes that happen, we will continue to remember what the four have done for cricket. Garfield Sobers is still spoken of today as the greatest all-rounder to have graced the game. Those who’d had the privilege of watching him play are never short of words when asked about his feats.

And as four legends walk away from the sport, so will we when asked about these greats in the future.


Niranjan K

Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from ODI’s did not come as a surprise to me. After all, he has not been an active ODI player for quite some time now. But when I sit down and think about what we he achieved, my eyes fill with tears of pride. He has so made the format his own that now it’s possible to think if ODI’s itself is going to retire with him.

In a country that is obsessed with statistics more than performance, results more than playing a good game and individual performances celebrated above the team, he gave us reasons to do both.Talk about numbers while still amazed by the beauty of his batting, celebrate a victory while watching him talk about respecting his opponents and most of all, celebrate a Tendulkar century along with an Indian win. We explored the statistics to understand his genius. We read articles to understand his brilliance. In short, Sachin Tendulkar made an average Indian fan, better.

It is a monstrous task to compile ten of his best from a collection of over 18000 runs and 49 centuries over 400 matches. I am sure a lot of you would disagree with my list, thinking how did I miss this, how can I miss that types. The list that I have put down here are the ones that simply sprout out of my mind when I saw the news of his retirement from ODI’s. No research and no thinking over. The Sachin Tendulkar fan in me came up with it. I had combined a few performances in one, in a logical way to make room for others. It’s Sachin, how can I not?

10. He blasted 41 runs off 26 balls against Pakistan in the 3rd finals of Coca-Cola Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, a rollicking start (the score was 71 in 8.1 overs when he got out) that ensured India would chase down Pakistan’s 314 in near darknesss. Saurav Ganguly with 124, Robin Singh with 82 and Kanithkar’s invaluable 11 not out gave India the win with a ball to spare.

In action in the 3rd finals at Dhaka. © AFP

9. He was playing all sorts of role in the team when one day Sidhu woke up with a stiff neck in New Zealand and Azharuddin walked up to him and asked if he could open the batting. That offer changed the face of ODI’s forever. He blasted 82 off 49 against New Zealand and a superstar was born.

Cricket woke up to its greatest ODI batsman at Eden Park. © AFP

8. The great man has just lost his father and had to fly midway during the ’99 World Cup to perform the last duties. Most thought that his tournament was over, but the master came back and how! It may be against Kenya but his 140 not out in the match after his father’s passing was as important as any of his other. It showed how much he cared for his country. And he looked up at the skies as he got to a hundred, a sight that was to become commonplace on his getting to that landmark thereafter.

Looks up to the skies after an emotional hundred © AFP

7. He was in indifferent form going into the final of the CB series in 2008 against Australia. But he took the grand finale by a calculated storm that did not decimate the Aussies, but rather destroyed them steadily. The Aussies might have had a stronger chance of getting him out if he was in marauding form. But instead, he chose to play the Anchorman, piling on runs at a fair clip and guiding an inexperienced batting to the finish. Both the century in the first final and the 91 in the second was a master-class.

His first and only ODI hundred in Australia set-up a series win. © Getty Images

6. It may be India’s most embarrassing defeats, a forfeit, but still it was characterized as before and after Sachin. He made 65 out of the 125-8 that India managed in the world cup semifinal in ’96 before the hostile crowd at Eden Gardens stopped the match. It seems like the pitch had two layers, one for Sachin and the other for the rest of the batsmen. Such was the gulf in class.

India’s fortunes soared and sunk with Tendulkar in the ’96 world cup. Scenes at Eden Gardens as India sunk after a Tendulkar 65. © Santabanta

5. For all the great batting performances of the little genius, there is one over that showed how cool his temperament really is. That final over in the hero cup semifinal when he successfully defended 6 runs against SA is one of my earliest images of him, one that made me a worshipper of him. How can a top order batsman bowl a nerve wracking final over and win the match for India from a seemingly hopeless situation. I was very young and believed only god can do miracles. I wasn’t wrong.

When he defended 6 runs against a rampaging Brian MacMillan in the Hero Cup semi-finals. © AFP

4. It was a princess that waited for the right prince to come and conquer her. Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry came within sniffing distance of her. Sehwag was thought to be the man to marry it. But eventually, ODI’s first double century was captured by the king of them all against an attack that had Steyn, Morkel and Ntini, a handful on any track. It was an innings of textbook perfection and clinical precision. Sehwag eventually bettered it. But this is first love. Need I say more?

Incredibly, Tendulkar even became ODI’s first double hundred scorer. © GETTY IMAGES

3. This happened a few weeks before the 200. But fans were transported to decade before when Sachin single handedly won matches for India. Set a demanding 350 to win, he scored exactly half the runs and when he got out, so did India, just like the old times. But that 175 was so breathtaking that even left the Aussies dazzled.

Tendulkar had Australia at his mercy for much of his career. His 175 at Hyderabad was among his best knocks. © AFP

2. Perhaps no other team challenged Australia like how Saurav’s boys did in the last decade and perhaps no other player dominated them like how Sachin did in the decade before that. The 2 sandstorms that decimated Aussies in Sharjah ’98 is part of cricketing folklore now. You may find this an exaggeration but to me, those 2 innings made him a legend of ODI’s.

Without doubt his highest point as a batsman came on 22nd and 24th April 1998 with those innings for the ages at Sharjah against Australia. © AFP

1. For all the centuries and a double century, this is the innings that still gives me the goose bumps when I think about it. How did he do all that? Playing Pakistan in pressure, more so if it’s in a World cup, and even more if playing for the first time in years. This was no stage for mortals or good players. The stage was set for only one man and how well he played. That 98 in the 2003 World cup is my pick for the best innings by Sachin Tendulkar in 23years. One shot stood out. A back foot cover drive off Wasim Akram still leaves me speechless, even after watching it hundreds of times.

His 98 at Centurion versus Pakistan in World Cup 2003. He went on to bag the Player of the Series award. © AFP

He defined the format, pulled the crowds to it and single handedly changed, not just of India’s fortunes, but the future of the game itself. And we all grew up with him. We were school kids when Sachin was decimating attacks in the 90’s singlehandedly, so he was the superstar. When we went to college in the 2000’s a certain Mr. Ganguly so dynamically changed Indian Cricket that Tendulkar went from one and only superstar to the greatest batsman of the golden quartet. As we understood the game better, he became a legend.

Farewell Sachin Tendulkar, albeit from colored clothing. We hope to see plenty of you in the whites, playing that breath taking straight drive, that audacious upper cut, that finest of leg glances or that ever so wonderful back foot cover drive. As a God, please inform the other one that created you that we said Thanks. We can say that we grew up and lived in the same time as the God of Cricket. Who else can?