I remember the events of the World Cup in 1999 like it was yesterday. It was the night before our game against Zimbabwe when I got a call from Ajit Tendulkar that their father had passed away. Anjali was also travelling with us but she had gone out with friends, and Ajit told me to be with Sachin till Anjali came and broke the news to him. Sachin was obviously extremely upset and broke down, but he didn’t go into deep depression. I did whatever I could to console him, but then again, how could you console someone who had lost not just his father, but also his guide, mentor, his role model?
Sachin left for home the following morning, and I felt that he would rejoin the team’s campaign. So it came as no surprise to me when I heard that he would come back. I wanted him to return at the earliest so that he could take his mind off the tragedy, if that was possible, and use cricket as a distraction.
Sachin arrived in time for the match against Kenya. He was deeply disturbed; you could make out from his general demeanour. He was very quiet and withdrawn, and didn’t have much to say. Everyone around him in the team gave him the space he needed, but Sachin also knew that his cricketing family was with him in his hour of distress.
Once it was time to play, however, Sachin was a man completely transformed and as focused as ever. When he walked out to bat, it was as if he was on a mission, that he wanted to do something for someone so special to him. His innings that day was one of the finest I have ever seen, even in isolation, but made even more spectacular given the circumstances under which it was composed.
Kenya had a reasonably decent attack but Sachin made them look like a club side.
HAWKEYE / CHIVACH SPORTS