THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was 1988 and K N Anandapadmanabhan was eager to find a spot in the Indian team to Pakistan. At the selection camp, there was this boy wonder, who was already making waves at barely 16 years and veterans like Sunil Gavaskar were visiting the camp to meet him.
For Anandapadmanabhan, the Indian bowler from Kerala, it remains one of the first memories about Sachin Tendulkar, the man who scripted history at the Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium hitting his 100th century on Friday.
‘’Sachin’s cricket was not that of a 16-year- old then, we knew it. And the cricket he plays now is also magic, not one a 39-year-old can play. For, no one can sustain the passion for the game for 22 years despite the many odds,’’ says Anandapadmanabhan.
A Senior Manager with IOB and staying at Maruthankuzhy in the city, Anandapadmanabhan is away from the field these days, but sitting in his office on Power House Road, the former cricketer joined the legend in his memories.
Anandan was in the Indian team which toured England under Sachin’s captaincy in 1993; the first tour after the latter adorned the captainship. ‘’He would interact with us as individual cricketers, without any airs of being the genius he was,’’ he remembers.
‘’I have played with him in Duleep Trophy matches. I have bowled in his team and against him in a couple of matches. The minute we release the ball, Sachin is ready with his bat; unlike others, who would want time to assess the ball. That showed his inborn talent,’’ Anandan travels down the memory lane.
During one of the camps in Mumbai during the 1993-94 period, Anandapadmanabhan was sharing his room with Saurav Ganguly. During their conversation, Anandan was keen to know how Ganguly beat his stress and handled the pressure. ‘’I remember Ganguly telling me about Sachin then. He said Sachin never sleeps the night before an important match,’’ Anandan says.
The Kerala cricketer, a spinner, had a special bouncer style to his credit which very few knew. ‘’I had displayed my bouncer during a camp in Mumbai. And almost eight years later, at the Chennai Indian camp in the early 90s, Sachin asked me to throw my classic bouncer to a batsman in the nets. And I was surprised how Sachin had remembered. He keenly watches the talents in others,’’ Anandan recalls.
Friday’s feat may be a long-expected one, but that doesn’t undermine its value, he says. ‘’Many cricketers like Vinod Kambli began on a promising note, yet withered away somewhere down the lane. Sachin survived, and despite the injuries and criticism against him, he plays good cricket. His figures would remain unbreakable in the history of cricket,’’ Anandan says.