THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: He might not have dazzled the crowd with those trademark shots of his on a cricket field, but Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s mere presence in the city was enough for the people to go into a frenzy as he touched down here on Tuesday.
The cricketing legend who is the co-owner of the Kochi franchise in football’s Indian Super League touched down at the domestic terminal of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport here from Mumbai on a special flight at 8.35 am.
Kerala Cricket Association president T C Mathew and P C Vishnunath MLA were present at the arrival area to welcome the legend, but Shafi Parambil MLA stole the show sporting a white T-shirt with a message ‘Proud to be with THE LEGEND’ printed on it.
A large contingent of journalists and fans was already stationed in front of the airport as they got to see the first glimpse of the superstar at 8.50 am. Tendulkar, in a green and white striped shirt and jeans, walked out of Arrival, but was forced to retreat to the airport after being mobbed by the fans.
Ten minutes later, with the security beefed up, the Bharat Ratna recipient was received by camera flashes and fans shouting his name as he made his way to the white BMW 520d that took him to the Hilton Garden Inn in the city leaving many at the airport with everlasting memories.
Romeo Ben Savio, a goalkeeper for St Xavier’s College, Thumba, was playing football with his friends at the nearby Shangumugham Beach when they came to know of Tendulkar’s visit and rushed to the airport. “He is a hero for everyone and it was a lifetime’s wish to see him in flesh at least once,” he said adding that Tendulkar’s involvement will improve Indian football.
At the hotel too, fans, mainly students from the nearby schools and colleges, waited to welcome Tendulkar. After having snacks at the restaurant, he and Prasad V Potluri, co-owner of the team and chairman of Hyderabad-based PVP ventures, headed to meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
The situation was no different at the Secretariat, where he received a rousing reception from thousands, including several politicians and Secretariat employees, with the administrative centre going into a virtual standstill. All the while, security personnel deployed at the front of the Secretariat were kept busy by the excited onlookers.
Chandy’s chamber was filled with mediapersons and bureaucrats when the Chief Minister arrived by 10.45 am. Ministers Adoor Prakash, K Babu, Aryadan Mohammed, Manjalamkuzhi Ali and P K Jayalakshmi, Kerala State Sports Council president Padmini Thomas, MLAs Vishnunath and Shafi were among those in attendance at the chamber along with Chandy’s son and daughter.
By 11 am, employees of the Secretariat had swarmed into the Chief Minister’s office as they waited in unison outside the chamber for the imminent arrival of the greatest cricketer India has ever produced.
Tendulkar was draped with a ‘ponnada’ by Chandy as he arrived and was gifted with an ‘Aranmula kannadi’ as the legend exchanged pleasantries with the ministers. After the media were asked to clear the chamber, the Chief Minister, Tendulkar and Potluri held a 20-minute long discussion after which the name of the franchise was announced to the public.
Tendulkar also found time to visit Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan at the Cantonment House before flying to Kochi at 12.20 pm leaving the people in the city wanting for more, just like he used to make the fans, in his playing days, yearn for more from his bat.