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An eight-year journey, with Tendulkar for company

Last updated on: April 23, 2013 13:14 IST

An eight-year journey, with Tendulkar for company

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Bikash Mohapatra rates the 175 against Australia at Hyderabad in 2009 the best he's witnessed from the batting icon's blade, and prays for at least one more similar one before he calls it a day.

The match was in November, 2009. India was playing Australia in an ODI at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium (Hyderabad).

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With the visitors having reduced the home team to 162 for four, and posting a formidable total (350), the writing was on the wall for the home team. At least, it seemed!

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The crowd, though, remained vociferous throughout, so much so that after a point it became difficult to concentrate. With the result seeming increasingly obvious, and the match report more or less done (save minor modifications), I decided to venture out of the cool confines of the media enclosure and watch the match with the crowd.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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Sachin Tendulkar started smashing the ball to all parts of the ground

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Being from the media, you get to cover many events but seldom get to enjoy. Professional necessities mean you end up covering the event, in this case the match, without actually enjoying the same.

My idea was precisely that -- to enjoy the match for a while without having to worry much about the report. Anyway, it was completed.

It was quite an experience. To shout along with the crowd, to cheer every boundary scored. To be part of that delirium rather than getting frustrated with the noise, as is the case when you are working in the media box.

It was nice till it lasted. The problem, it didn't last long.

A certain Sachin Tendulkar started smashing the ball to all parts of the ground and soon after I had to make my way back to the media box. It was an effort to get back through that packed crowd. But the manner in which the Master Blaster was dominating the Australian bowlers, the match had taken a fresh turn.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar with MS Dhoni
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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Tendulkar had single-handedly changed the course of the match

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The initial report needed to be dumped. A fresh draft needed to be prepared. Sachin Tendulkar had single-handedly changed the course of the match.

By the time one was ready with the second draft the match took a fresher turn. The maestro's blitzkrieg was ended by a certain Clint McKay.

India eventually fell three runs short of the target, and I ended up filing three drafts that evening.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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I witnessed the legend reach milestones

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But there's no regret.

For Tendulkar's 175 that evening was the best I had seen him play. It still is.

My eight years of covering the Master Blaster's career was a roller-coaster ride. On the positive side, I witnessed the legend reach milestones, like most Test runs -- surpassing Brain Lara against Australia in Mohali (2008) -- and score the first double hundred in ODIs -- against South Africa in Gwalior (February 2010).

I was also fortunate to watch him achieve his biggest dream -- of winning the ICC World Cup on a sixth attempt, at his home ground in April 2011.

On the negative side, there are many disappointments. From his failure to score a century in the mecca of cricket (Lord's) – he will never score one -- to that endless wait for that 100th international hundred.

In fact, having watched Tendulkar score his 99th international hundred, against South Africa in Nagpur during the World Cup, I was braced for the landmark.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar poses with the 2011 World Cup trophy
Photographs: Ritam Banerjee/Getty Images

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I feel elated when he attains a milestone and frustrated when he suffers failure

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The wait lasted more than a year. In the period there were two instances in particular -- when he scored 91 against England in the fourth Test at The Oval and was dismissed for 94 in the third Test against the West Indies at the Wankhede, where I was ready with the appreciation piece, lest he achieve the milestone.

It wasn't to be. And when he did achieve it, against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup last year, I, blame it on bad fortune, skipped the event.

The point in mentioning these incidents is to admit to the fact that despite being in the media, and supposed to be objective as a result, Tendulkar's case makes it different.

I, like all of you, happen to be a Sachin Tendulkar fan. I feel elated when he attains a milestone and frustrated when he suffers failure.

And being a part of the media has only helped me live with a few such memories. Among all of them, it is the 175 mentioned above that I cherish the most.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar of India
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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Sachin offered hope, just like he has over the years

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Agreed, it was a lost cause. Agreed, Sachin has played many better innings. And agree with all those who believe his 134 against Australia in the Sharjah final in 1998 was his best.

But, for me, it is this knock, simply because the target was stiff and Sachin offered hope, just like he has over the years.

In my eight years of covering matches featuring the maestro I've never seen him bludgeon bowlers the way he did in the match, not even during his 200 not out (India batted first, so there was no pressure anyways).

So I'll take this opportunity to not only wish my favourite player a happy 40th birthday, but also pray for a similar knock, at least once before he calls curtains on his illustrious career.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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