I wish he scores a double hundred in his hundredth Test
The first time I saw Sachin was in school. We both went to the same school Sharadashram Vidyamandir (English). He was there enrolling for the nets for cricket practice. Both of us wanted to play for the school; he was ten years old at the time and I was 11.
Sir Ramakanth Achrekar was our coach and he had this very peculiar way of telling the boys they weren't good at sports. The boys would simply be asked to get back to their books and study. I could sense Sachin's nervousness as he was being given a testing time in the nets. He was very tense and as a result he was playing his shots in the air.
I was pretty confident when my turn came around and I was selected for the team. But Ajit Tendulkar, Sachin's elder brother, was asked to make sure Sachin got back to his studies.
But Ajit was a very adamant fellow and he somehow managed to convince Sir to give Sachin another chance. The next day dawned and Sachin looked a different creature from the one we had seen before. There was a certain air of confidence around him; the airy strokes and the tension were all gone. It was clear to all watching that he was something special.
He was selected for the team and that was the beginning of our friendship. Cricket was our binding point.
Basically a very quiet chap, he used to live, breathe and eat cricket. So did I!
[Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar are together ingrained in public memory. They were both partners in a world record, unbroken partnership of 664 runs for the third wicket in the Harris Shield tournament, for Mumbai's schools. Kambli scored 349 not out while Sachin's contribution was 326 not out.]
But I do not regard that innings, the one that was part of the world record stand, as Sachin's greatest in those early days of his formation. The same year, it was the final of the Harris Shield against our arch rivals Anjuman Islam High School. The atmosphere and rivalry in matches between the two sides resembled that of an India - Pakistan match. Tendulkar made another triple century in the final.
In that innings, I got out quickly and he single-handedly guided the team to a joint-victory. No result was possible even after four days, and both teams were declared joint-winners.
That was the beginning; the start of his metamorphosis. In my eyes, it was the turning point of his career. The then Cricket Club of India president, Raj Singh Dungarpur, was there at the stadium and he took the initiative to make Sachin a member of the prestigious club. The club changed its rules to allow Sachin to play for them in the Kanga League. Club rules state that no one below the age of 18 are allowed to enter the pavilion or dressing rooms. Sachin was just 14!
From then on, Sachin's rise has been steep. Despite his stupendous success, I must say that as a person he hasn't changed at all. He's still the same old chap I used to play cricket with; very modest, with no airs around him.
I wish he scores a double hundred in his hundredth Test.
Former India cricketer and Tendulkar's school mate Vinod Kambli spoke to Ashish Magotra.