So, this is it.!!! The much-awaited(rather it should have been much dreaded) announcement is done. With 24 years of International cricket behind him, he has gathered all his courage to call it quits. Though, mortals would have advised him and said "Its always better to go, when everyone asks you why now instead of why not now", Sachin is no mere mortal. Nine in ten, would agree, this announcement is been long overdue, but he still instils a range of emotions as no other person can: a sense of sadness, emptiness, a never ending nostalgic feeling, feeling older than you really are, a feeling that Indian cricket can never be the same, whichever person comes in at number no:4 against South Africa(not even sure if the tour is on, at this point) your mind would immediately deviate towards the person who is no more at that position, rather undeserving to the person who had replaced him.(I meant just the no:4 position)
So, now that the legend has called it quits, just wanted to relive some of the memorable moments, from the time i started watching cricket. These are not the top 10 or top 20 moments, its just a recollection of some of most inspiring moments for me in cricket.
1996: He started playing international cricket at 1989, but at 2 years, I have no idea how his debut was. So, I start from the days and years that I remember. World cup in India 1996 is my first cricket event and distinctly remember India V Kenya where Sachin scored a blitzkrieg 140, where he demolished Kenyan bowlers and made them look like some club cricketers. The joy and inspiration was so much that, few of my friends strolled to the park to play cricket on a hot March afternoon even as he went past 100. That is inspiration for you, a first hand account, when people and cricketers say he has the reason for them to hold a cricket bat, how true is it. No wonder, that generation includes some of the promising young cricketers now, like of Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma to name a few.
1997: Don't remember much any particular innings of his, as his 1996 WC heroics was more than enough to sustain for 2 years.
1998: Sharjah!!! Do I need to say further. Those couple of innings against Australia is well documented all through out the world. But, for people who saw it LIVE, they never stop talking and raving about it. Such was the magnitude of that innings and very few innings around the world can match such aggression in a manner that one man just rode past the entire opposition, not once, but twice consecutively.
1999: Another WC and again against Kenya, but this time in the backdrop of a personal tragedy for Sachin. But, the way he came back from his father's demise and show the way for the team which was in a must win situation was quite memorable.
2000: This time not a big century but a cameo against Australia in ICC Knockout, Nairobi was enough to enthral millions. The match more remembered for Yuvraj Singh's debut, also saw a blistering and aggressive Tendulkar, sending Aussie bowlers all over the park, taking a special liking to Glenn McGrath who was at the peak of his prowess. Innings of just 35-40 runs, but had the substance of a brilliant century.
2001: Third test Chepauk against Australia in that famous Australian series. His sedate yet series clinching 100 came against the best bowling attack in the world at that time, likes of Warne, McGrath, Gillespie and Kasprowicz. Memorable!!!
2002: Headingley, against Emgland where he played a master class to score 193. More known for Dravid wallesque batting, but what followed was a batting treat from Sachin. If Dravid blunted the opposition, Sachin capitalized and pummelled England into a submission paving way for a memorable away test victory.
2003: The WC in South Africa and more particularly, the match against Pakistan. He looked like a man possessed, bordering to as if he had steroids. The way he bulldozed the entire Pakistani bowling, Rawalpindi express derailed in particular was jaw-dropping stuff. India had won the WC even before it went to Finals.
2004: Sydney 241. The innings which prompted Hayden to say, "I have seen god, he plays at No:4 for India in test cricket!!!". Coming amidst the back drop of number of failures due to his dodgy form and bad umpiring, here is the man who refused to play cover drive through out the innings, sensing some weakness there and then going on to get a wonderful double century, against all odds, was simply magnificent.
2005: A dry year by his standards, know more for his solitary 100 which propelled him to go past Gavaskar's 34 centuries to become highest century maker in Test Cricket. Who would have though he would go on to make 17 more centuries after that in Test Cricket alone.
2006: A tragic moment. Memories of him on his knees while getting bowled to an in-swinging delivery from the lanky newcomer Mohammed Asif. There started the initial murmurs of critics asking him to retire. Amazing that he has withstood all those every increasing clamour for retirement for 7 long years.
2007: More known for a shocking world cup in 50-over format and raise of young brigade in first ever T20 format. It is also famous for Sachin missing quite a few hundreds in One day and test cricket. Amazingly, he was out in 90's 7 times in that single year.
2008: Again Chepauk and this time the opposition being England. A masterful 100 in the fourth innings to a square turner, to take India past the finishing line in the final session was incredible, albeit after a wonderful start given by Sehwag. Emotional too, as it came weeks after 26/11 in Sachin's hometown and him dedicating the victory to the victims.
2009: Couldn't remember a particular innings, just like in 1997. It was a year where suddenly people started shouting, "Come on Sachin!!! this is enough!!! you are past your prime and retire gracefully!!!". and critics made sure it reached loudly to his ears.
2010: Back with vengeance, to eek out his fertile year in his entire career. At 37, to score 1500 runs in Test Cricket is no mean achievement and to be the first man in history to score 200 in one day cricket, was the perfect finish to an excellent year.
2011: Dream achieved. His child hood dream of a world cup medal is achieved after being in International cricket for 22 years. Again the highest run scorer and deserving every bit of that WC trophy. He lofting the cup in the back drop of India gate is the collector's dream.
2012: First man to score 100 International hundreds and what an achievement. True champion. Can stick my neck out and say this equivalent to 99.96 of Bradman
2013: 200 tests and bidding adieu from Cricket. True legend!!!!!