Sachin officially retired today from ODIs. He will still continue to play in test games for India. And i am sure he will continue to play for Mumbai Indians for few more years. But this is such a monumental moment. End of an era. Kinda tells me i am getting old as well.
Sachin's international career experience is almost the same as my age. I grew up watching and idolizing Sachin. When i was a kid, my mom wanted to get me a bat. And i chose the one with the MRF sticker just because it was used by Sachin back then. I had no idea what MRF was..But still wanted the same bat. I wore tshirts that had number 10 (Sachin's number on his tshirt) and had Sachin posters all over my room. End of an era. Truly.
I will never forget the 98 against Pak in 2003 world cup. That, to me is the best innings played by Sachin. I am not saying this just because Sachin told Cricinfo that the innings was his favorite too. There is so much heroism in that innings. I am glad i caught that game live on TV. I watched the entire Pak innings and was absolutely sure India was about to loose. When Waqar and Akram and Akhtar started bowling aggressively i knew India were finished. But then again, Sachin did this awesome upper cut off Akhtar, which just set the tone for the entire game. I remember sitting on the edge of the seat wondering how this is going to play out. That shot almost made me jump off my seats. For that second i thought my heart stopped..thought the third man would catch it. But again, the ball went for a beautiful six. I can still imagine that six as if it is happening now. I can still replay it in slow motion and occasionally feel happy remembering that moment. (starts at 00.29 in this video)
And that almost catch with Razzaq dropped when Akram was bowling was another heart stopper in this innings. I thought he was out. And then Razzaq dropped. he scored only 98. So if you compare all the other innings where he scored so much more runs than this and just look at this as a number, you wont know the significance. But this innings according to me is the best of Sachin.
People talk endlessly about the Sharjah innings. I was too young to remember that innings. But i do remember seeing Sachin coming all the way to the mid pitch and hitting Warne for a six. And Tony Greig yelling, "what a player. What a wonderful player" But i dont remember the entire innings.
I am not going to talk about how Sachin led a life without mistresses or drunken driving. Even if he did, i would have still liked him. Sachin has inspired an entire generation. He has single handedly made cricket the unofficial national sport of India and inspired a whole new group of people like Virat.
There is a famous saying in China. "May you live in interesting times" It was actually meant as a curse. But i dont think of it that way. All of us should live in interesting times. If not, what is the point in life? Thank you Sachin for making my child hood interesting. Thank you Sachin for making my childhood memorable. Thanks for making our lives interesting. Thanks for the endless hours of entertainment. It is not an easy job. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the best player in his best form. Thanks for letting us witness that. You are and will always be a legend. The poster i have of you with the helmet on one hand and bat on your other hand looking up at the sky will remain in my wall forever. And i will be endlessly talking about all the amazing innings in dinner tables and in parties and continue to re-live my childhood by reminiscing the centuries and victories. A heartfelt thanks.
Cricket will never be the same. Indian cricket team will never be the same. There might be another new batsman who might surpass Sachin's records, but cricket will never be the same. Thank you Sachin.