'Watching Tendulkar play I learnt to absorb pressure'
Dhawal Kulkarni, Sachin Tendulkar’s teammate in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy squad and Mumbai Indians tells Bikash Mohapatra nobody can match the batting legend, or even get close.
In a career spanning 24 glorious years, Sachin Tendulkar had a varying impact on his fellow-cricketers. While his contemporaries have deep respect for his talent and work ethic, his juniors are in awe of him.
The Master Blaster’s many achievements earned him legendary status and, as such, the next generation of players not only looks up to him, but also aspires to be like him. It’s on this younger lot that Tendulkar has had the maximum impact.
Dhawal Kulkarni is one such player. The 24-year-old bowler was the Master Blaster’s teammate in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy side as well the Mumbai Indians franchise in the Indian Premier League and had the opportunity to imbibe a lot.
“It’s been a great experience to share the dressing room with him. There’s nobody who can match him; for that matter, even get close. He is unique,” he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Dhawal Kulkarni
'I'm too small to comment on the contributions made by him'
Asked what he learnt from the legend, the young bowler was quick with his riposte.
“From him I learnt how to absorb pressure. The way he soaks in all the pressure and continues to perform despite all odds is what makes him such a great player.”
With Tendulkar on the cusp of playing a landmark 200th Test, and closing in on his international retirement following the home series against the West Indies, there are many who feel the emotion. Dhawal is no different.
“It’s a great achievement. He has already done a lot for Indian and world cricket. In fact, I’m too small to comment on the contributions made by him,” he said.
Image: Dhawal Kulkarni
'Hope he makes some big scores in his last two matches'
Asked which would be his favourite Tendulkar innings, the bowler was more forthcoming.
“That knock against Australia in Sharjah (1998) that helped us qualify for the final,” said Dhawal, pointing to the innings that has since become known as the ‘Sandstorm’.
“He scored successive centuries in that tournament, the second one (134) in the final that helped us win that tournament,” he continued, adding, “But the first one (143) was special considering we were struggling to make it to the final and faced a very good Australian side. It was a great knock.”
Tendulkar hangs up his gear next month and, expectedly, there is huge expectation from his last two games in international cricket.
“The expectations are always high when he is playing. But since these are his final two matches, the expectations will be even higher. Hope he makes some big scores.”
Image: Sachin Tendulkar