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Sachin vs Dhoni: Epic showdown; on and off the field

Source: PTI
October 06, 2023 22:03 IST
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Sachin and Dhoni: Tale of two sports shops and unfulfilled dreams of a former hockey player

Sachin Tendulkar

IMAGES: Will Sachin and Dhoni's shops cash in on cricket fever? (picture used for representational purpose only). Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Sachin Tendulkar was a constant presence next to Mahendra Singh Dhoni at slips during Test matches.

It seems Tendulkar and Dhoni are destined to stand adjacent to each other, just like they did on the field, in retirement too.

Call it a quirky coincidence, two sports goods and apparel shops named after two of India's biggest sporting icons stand next to each other on the Wallajah Road, opposite the Chepauk.


You can't actually miss 'Sachin Sports' which opened back in 1998 and 'Dhoni Sports' which was born in 2016 while walking towards the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

The reverence for 'God' is universal but Chennai's love for 'Thala' (elder brother) is deeply personal.


"Obviously, Dhoni is huge in Chennai but if your products aren't good enough you won't be able to attract customers. We don't just look at selling sports stuff on match days but more on non-match days when people might flock in," said young owner Syed Naseeruddin Shahbaz.

Shahbaz was an accomplished national level hockey player himself, who went as far as making the Junior India probables for the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup held in India in 2015.

Does Dhoni know about your shop and have you ever faced any copyright issues? "Yes, he does," Shahbaz nods his head.

"But he has never visited our shop. You can't miss our shop if you are coming in and out of Chepauk. And yes, there are no copyright issues as such. Our family has been in the sports business for years and this is not our first shop," said Shahbaz, who has represented Tamil Nadu and All India Universities (AIU) in multiple Senior National Hockey Championships.

"From sub-junior to senior level, I have played eight nationals. I played for Loyola College and from there I made it to the AIU team. I played three senior nationals for Tamil Nadu as goalkeeper," said Shahbaz, who quit the sport after failing to make it to India's junior World Cup squad.

"My batchmates were Harjeet Singh, Manpreet Singh and immediate competitor was goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, who is now playing for senior India alongside PR Sreejesh. Me and Krishan were in junior India WC probables. Krishan made the cut and I quit sport soon after," Shahbaz tells in a matter of fact manner.

Was it an injury that prompted a premature end? "No. I didn't have the required support in the right places to go ahead. Also, if you are an outfield player, you tend to have more probability of making the cut,” Shahbz replied.

So, did he feel the need to join business? “It wasn't like that. My father was a hockey player, and my brother played cricket at a decent level in the state. We are a sports family and this is not just a business for us.”

“M Shahrukh Khan, who plays for Tamil Nadu and Punjab Kings, has taken accessories from our shop. He is a family friend. Once the Bangladesh team was here and a few players visited our shop. A Zimbabwe team had come here and on request, we sent our goods to their team hotel,” he recollected.

For Shahbaz, using Dhoni's name is just a part of the game, but Diwakar, a man in his mid fifties and working at ‘Sachin Sports' for 25 years believes that there is competition and obviously “Dhoni is no match for Sachin” --- albeit in terms of sales figures.

“My owner is not around right now. I have worked in this shop since its inception in 1998,” Diwakar proudly announces.


The germination of the idea must have taken place after Sachin had hit an epic 155 on a turner against Shane Warne, a Test innings that the maestro himself rates very highly.

Then there was that tragic 136 against Pakistan, which was played through pain, in a losing cause.

“Sachin knows about our shop. The Indian team bus goes through this road so there is no chance that he doesn't know about our shop. Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik have bought accessories (gloves, guards etc) from our shop,” the wide grin of Diwakar, couldn't be missed.

Both Shahbaz and Diwakar agreed that IPL is a time when instant sales are way more than at any other time of the year.

Though it's a shop named after Sachin, the maximum jerseys they sell is -- well, no marks for guessing as it is of CSK and their iconic No. 7.

“The World Cup sales haven't yet picked up. Maybe on Sunday, when India plays Australia, things will pick up,” Diwakar said.

Shahbaz gave an interesting insight.

“Shopping for sports goods isn't like any other retail therapy. Sales are never going to be great on weekday mornings as people have work. It only picks up during evenings. So, I am happy till people coming for matches get to see our shop and then come back to buy sports goods,” he said.

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