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'Playing 200 Tests is like going atop Everest for the first time'

October 29, 2013 09:39 IST

'Playing 200 Tests is like going atop Everest for the first time'

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Praveen Amre, who was involved in a match-winning partnership with Sachin Tendulkar on his ODI debut, tells Bikash Mohapatra that the Master Blaster's feat of playing in 200 Test matches will be difficult to replicate.

November 1991.

Eden Gardens was hosting the first one-dayer of the three-match series between India and South Africa.

The visitors, playing their first international match after more than two decades of isolation, had a surprise for the hosts -- one named Allan Donald.

A devastating early spell by the tearaway quick had India in a spot of bother at 60 for four.

Sachin Tendulkar was still batting. And joining him at the crease, at that crucial juncture, was someone who was playing his first match. The debutant absorbed pressure rather well and, along with the Master Blaster, helped India to a hard-fought win. 


Image: Sachin Tendulkar


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'My first One-Day International will always be special'

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It’s been 22 years since that match, but it remains Praveen Amre’s favourite moment. After all, he had Tendulkar for company that day.

“My first One-Day International will always be special,” recalled Amre, a tad nostalgic.

“We got together with India struggling at 60 for four and put together a partnership that eventually won us the game,” he continued, adding, “Sharing the stage with him always felt great.”

For the record, the duo added 56 runs for the fifth wicket at the Eden Gardens that day before Tendulkar was dismissed for 62.

Amre scored 55, and when he was finally dismissed, India needed just two runs for victory.

While the Mumbai player has long retired, and taken to coaching, his partner that day continued, and is on the cusp of becoming the first cricketer ever to appear in 200 Test matches, when India take on the West Indies next month.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Praveen Amre


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'200 Tests is a tribute to his fitness, skill and fortitude'

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And, like many, Amre is excited about the impending milestone.

“It is a great moment for the entire cricketing fraternity.

“It’s like going up to the Everest for the first time. It’ll be the completion of his journey from being a student of the game to being the Master.

“It’s a tribute to his fitness, skill and fortitude, especially considering the fact that he’s always under pressure while playing for India,” he said.

Talking about pressure, fact is, Tendulkar hasn’t been at his best for the past few years. Is it the reason he announced his 200th Test will also be his last?

“He knows best what is good for him and has taken the decision to call it a day when he is still enjoying playing the game,” explained Amre, before proceeding to state that there couldn’t have been a better farewell for the player, considering the second Test of the upcoming series is to be played at the Wankhede stadium, his home ground.


Image: Praveen Amre
Photographs: Bikash Mohapatra

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'Sachin's feat will be difficult to replicate'

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It is good for Indian fans that Sachin is playing his final game at home, particularly the second Test,” he said, adding, “We all know how important for every Mumbaikar is the Wankhede stadium.

“It’ll be twice as memorable for Sachin, considering he also won his first World Cup at the same ground.”

Amre, now 45, believes the milestone will stand the Test of time.

“With the shorter versions dominating the game more and more with every passing day, Sachin’s feat will be difficult to replicate,” he reasoned. 


Image: Sachin Tendulkar


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'Let Sachin enjoy his final two matches'

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And what, according to him, will be Sachin’s legacy?

“I’d like to believe the massive fan-following he has had over the years is his legacy.

“He has achieved a pan-Indian following, across all age groups at that. He became a role model for the whole nation.”

Finally, what are his expectations from his old teammate in these last two matches.

“He has allowed us to enjoy the game for so many years. He has given us so many memorable moments.

“Let him enjoy his final two matches.

“Let us, for once, not have any expectation from him whatsoever.”


Image: Praveen Amre
Photographs: Bikash Mohapatra

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