I have never really been an ardent fan of cricket. The only cricket I watched with a lot of passion was with my dad. On days when India played Pakistan, specially in the World Cup series, our household would come to a standstill. There would be no going out. We would not by any stretch of imagination think of watching anything else on television except the match. It was a beautiful time in my life. On hot summer days, day-night matches would come with ice cream as accompaniment. My dad would rush to the nearby Vadilal (a brand of ice cream that became extinct with the opening of economy) store and get slabs of it!
The atrocity of that Indian summer was alleviated by the jasmine flowers in the balcony, the ice cream and cricket!
Dad and I would follow the match right from the toss. A lanky Azaruddin standing next to a puffy Inzamam! As the coin was tossed up, I found myself doing all the little girl spells on it. The rest of the day was spent in front of the television.
These matches were played in two parts. In the conventional sense, it was divided as Indian batting and Indian fielding. For us, however, it was before Sachin and after Sachin. Sachin Tendulkar was responsible for a lot of my mood changes in those days. He would not know it I know, but just because this is all out there I should clear my heart. :)
Every time after an opening batsman went out at a sad score the little master would walk in, fiddling with his gloves and helmet. I would fall on to my knees and pray to him. The game then usually transformed to another level with every other delivery being swept across the boundary line like the ball had it all written in its destiny. In one of his "trips" Sachin would sweep over after over at an average of sixteen runs per over and sweep everyone off their feet. We lived each of those with our hearts in our hands. It was not a game. It was more like dance for me for it came as close to art as an Amjad Ali Khan on Sarod or a Jasraj reciting the Shanti Mantra in his soul-soaking voice.
Being a girl, I am not able to throw in statistics in a conversation related to cricket. Nor would I get red in the face when someone would say Sachin is overrated sipping on a coffee that they haven't paid for in Roopali.
Over the years though I have observed something similar in people who have consistently stayed on top. Be it Sachin, A.R Rahman or Rodger Federer. They don't play for us, they do whatever they do because they have been sent with that one purpose. Everything that comes as a result of what they do gets dissolved in the overwhelming presence of their art.
Kudos to Sachin! There would never be another one of his kind. :)