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'Privileged to have got a chance to play with Sachin'

November 14, 2013 14:19 IST

'Privileged to have got a chance to play with Sachin'

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Harish Kotian

Ajinkya Rahane is being tipped as the hot favourite to replace Sachin Tendulkar in Tests when the batting legend hangs up his boots after the two-Test series against the West Indies.

The 25-year-old Mumbai batsman is one of Tendulkar’s biggest fans ever since he took up cricket at an early age. He also considers himself privileged to have got up close with the master batsman on many occasions whenever they played in Ranji Trophy matches for Mumbai or Team India.

Rahane still remembers watching Tendulkar bat on television and being glued to his seat, never moving even to eat when he was in the midst of a big innings.

Following Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy match against Haryana last month, Rahane spoke with Harish Kotian on how special it was to be a part of Tendulkar’s last domestic outing, and his last two Tests.

I met Sachin for the first time during the India Under-19 camp at the MCA ground in Bandra-Kurla Complex nearly seven-eight years ago. We were preparing for the New Zealand tour and he was also doing his preparation there. So that was the first time I met him. He spoke to all the players for nearly 30 minutes and gave a small motivational talk to them.

I have followed him a lot since I was a small child and remember all his big knocks. In fact, whenever I used to watch him play a big innings, I would be sitting still in one place and not move at all; at times, I did not even eat. I remember telling him some time back about it, when we were travelling together with the Indian team. You may call it superstitious, but there is something about him that I used to just sit there and watch him play.

Farewell Sachin... write a postcard to the batting icon


Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: BCCI

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'Privileged to have got a chance to play with Sachin'

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Harish Kotian

When I shared the dressing room with him for the first time I did not know what was happening. For me, it was a dream come true to be with him in the same dressing room. I just sat there and was watching him closely -- as to how he is sitting, what he is doing before the game, how he is preparing, everything he was doing. I could not take my eyes off him.

Even during the Ranji Trophy game I was watching him closely, because there is so much you can learn from him by just observing him.

The first time I met him I didn’t know what to talk to him; I was very nervous, but he came up to talk to me and made me feel relaxed and comfortable. After that, whenever I used to get a chance, I would go and talk to him about my batting. He always tells me: ‘You are a very good player; I have been following you for a long time. The way you prepare for a match, it is quite good. Whenever you play in a match it is important to back yourself.’

So he has given me a lot of confidence whenever we have interacted.

Farewell Sachin... write a postcard to the batting icon


Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: Tom Shaw/Getty Images

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'Privileged to have got a chance to play with Sachin'

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Harish Kotian

In the recent Ranji Trophy match, at Lahli, he was very relaxed and quite cheerful, talking to all the team mates in the dressing room.

I think the determination inside him is very strong, as you saw in the Ranji match against Haryana. I think all players, whether young or senior, can learn from him how never to give up in any circumstances.

Also, it was very nice to see that despite being such a successful player in international cricket for 24 years, he still gives so much importance to Ranji Trophy. We had a four-day camp at the Wankhede stadium before the Ranji game and he was very focussed in the practice sessions. Even in Lahli, he was concentrating on his preparations and didn’t let any other thing distract him. You could see the determination on his face every time he stepped out on the field that he wanted to do well and win the match for Mumbai, which he eventually did.

Farewell Sachin... write a postcard to the batting icon


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: BCCI

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Harish Kotian

It was his last match for Mumbai so we were all eager to do well and win it for him. I thank God we managed to win the match and gave him a winning farewell. I would say his knock in the second innings was very important because the wicket was helping the fast bowlers. The way Sachin batted, the disciple and dedication he showed, was exemplary and a good learning experience.

I have loved almost all his innings, but my top favourites are the back-to-back centuries he scored against Australia in Sharjah in 1998. I can never forget those two knocks; it was just amazing batting by Sachin.

His presence will be a missed a lot by the Indian team, because he has won us so many matches over the years and dominated bowlers from all the teams in the world. Even world cricket will miss him because he has so many fans worldwide; his batting inspired so many people.

He has given me so many tips on the field but the best part about him is the way he has conducted himself off the field. He is so humble and down-to-earth and speaks to everyone with so much respect even if he is meeting someone for the first time.

As a cricketer, apart from cricket, there is so much you can learn from Sachin. I consider myself privileged that I got a chance to play with him and be in the same team as him. I wish him all the best.


Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: Michael Steele/Getty Images

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