'Only a cricketer can value Sachin's achievements'
In our series to celebrate Sachin Tendulkar’s landmark 200th Test, former India pacer Manoj Prabhakar shares his thoughts on his former teammate with Bikash Mohapatra
Sachin Tendulkar is less than a month away from playing a landmark 200th Test match, and everybody is excited about the impending milestone. Particularly the Master Blaster’s teammates when he started his 24-year career.
“This is a great achievement to be able to play 200 Test matches,” says Manoj Prabhakar, the legendary batsman’s teammate in the first quarter of his career.
“It’s something that can be achieved just once in life. And no one deserves it more than Sachin. Many can only dream of doing so. Sachin has fulfilled the dream.”
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'Expectation always put additional pressure on him'
For someone who observed the batting icon closely at the start of his career, Prabhakar, now 50, offered his perspective on the player.
“Soon after he started playing, many realized he is one for the long run; each passing year only added to the weight of expectation.
“Then came a stage when people were not happy to see him score 50 or 60. They wanted a hundred every time he went out to bat.
“It’s this expectation that always put additional pressure on him. At this stage of his career Sachin understands he can’t always deliver what the fans expect from him.”
Image: Sachin Tendulkar of India celebrates hitting 119 during the Second Test match against England played at Old Trafford
Photographs: Ben Radford /Allsport
'Those who were criticizing him never played the game'
A dependable bowler and useful batsman in his playing days, Prabhakar palpably did not like the clamour surrounding Tendulkar’s quest for that 100th hundred, one that went on for more than a year.
“When Sachin was struggling to score his 100th international hundred people had already started talking about his retirement. They forgot he was one who had scored 99,” lamented Prabhakar.
“In India, 100 minus one is not 99. It is zero. The people are so negative-minded,” he continued, adding, “Those who were criticizing him obviously never played the game.
“It’s only a cricketer who can value Sachin’s achievements.”
'I appreciate the board's effort in ensuring he gets to play in India'
The former India medium pacer was quick to credit the Board of Control for Cricket in India for organizing an impromptu series against the West Indies.
It is imperative here to mention that Tendulkar was supposed to play his 200th Test during India’s tour of South Africa later in the year till the BCCI stepped in to organize an ad hoc series against the Caribbeans, later even awarding the second Test to the Wankhede stadium, in Mumbai, and thereby ensuring a perfect farewell for the legendary batsman.
“I appreciate the board’s effort in ensuring the milestone Test is played in India. That’s what, am sure, everyone of us wanted.
“He was not around when he announced his one-day retirement. But he will be playing his final Test in front of his fans.”
Image: Manoj Prabhakar
Photographs: Ben Radford/Hulton Archive
'Sachin never displayed on-the-face aggression'
Asked which is his most memorable ‘Sachin’ moment, Prabhakar’s reply was predictable.
“Hmm… watching him bat from the other end.”
Prodded further, he said, “I do remember this instance when he got hit on the helmet by a Wasim (Akram) bouncer at Sharjah, The next ball was dispatched to the hoarding.
“There was no hint of aggression in there. In fact, he never displayed on-the-face aggression. He just showed it with his bat.
“That’s Sachin for you!”