Kochi is where a ‘humble’ Tendulkar had a ball - The New Indian Express

Kochi is where a ‘humble’ Tendulkar had a ball

Published: 19th November 2013 01:15 AM

Last Updated: 19th November 2013 01:15 AM

The pitch was sacred for Sachin Tendulkar, the maestro’s “talking” to the Wankhede Stadium wicket being the most poignant moment in his unique farewell.

As Team India moves to Kochi to begin life after SRT, the pitch at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in God’s Own Country too has a story to tell of the master’s reverence for the 22-yard strip.

Speaking to TNIE, Kerala Cricket Association curator PV Ramachandran remembers that Sachin had observed the wicket closely before the venue’s first ever ODI in 1998, against Australia (5-34).

“Hello, can I go in?” Sachin said, asking of the curator’s permission to get on the centre wickets, which had been cordoned off. Sachin then took a walk along the pitch and suddenly teammate Hrishikesh Kanitkar bounced a ball on the wicket to check its hardness.

“You fool, what are you doing?” he scolded Kanitkar, and proceeded to the far end of the wicket. “Come, I will show you,” he said, and stood behind the stumps outside the pitch and pressed hard with his feet.

“The spikes of my shoes are very sharp. See, it’s not going in. The wicket is really hard.” Ramachandran, who has overseen the Nehru Stadium wicket ever since, observes: “The remarkable thing was the respect with which he approached the wicket. His ability to read the nature of the wicket is also marvellous. While others bowled a flatter trajectory, Sachin gave the ball a lot of air to take advantage of the slowing track and have the batsmen searching.”

He was left in awe of Sachin’s humility. “No one there would have said a word had such a big player gone in without permission,” he said.

After the match, Sachin, the man of the match, famously said: “I wish I could roll it up and carry with me.” While the world continued to be in awe of Tendulkar’s sublime batting right into his final Test, the bowler in the ambidextrous cricketer has a claim in the record books that even legendary bowlers like Michael Holding, Kapil Dev, Courtney Walsh and Shane Warne do not have - two five-wicket hauls in ODIs.

And both of those match-winning performances of Sachin — who has tried everything that a right-armer could do with a cricket ball — came at Kochi, one of the pavilions of which will take on the legend’s name come November 20. During the MAK Pataudi Memorial lecture in Mumbai recently, Anil Kumble paid the ultimate tribute to Sachin, the bowler.

“I played 122 Tests alongside Sachin. I never threatened his place as a batsman but I can tell you he threatened mine as a bowler. He was a natural with leg-spin,” said India’s highest wicket-taker.

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