For Indian cricket fans that started following the game in the early 90’s it is hard to imagine an Indian team without Sachin Tendulkar. I started watching Sachin play for India when he was 18 year old and boy he was special. He was the sole reason I got hooked on to cricket then, write about cricket now and will follow cricket in the future. For a player that young he had enormous composure and maturity beyond his years. He carried the Indian batting for almost a decade until Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly made their debut in the mid-nineties.
Sachin is still the pillar of Indian middle order at 37. He has been in brilliant form over the last couple of years, broke countless records, and scored loads of runs. The most important thing for his fans is that he is still winning games for India. In spite of being arguably the best player of his generation, he has received quite a lot of criticism too. His game and his statistics have often been dissected, the most among his contemporaries. He has had to endure plenty of mindless comparison. Indian fans of the later generations have had different heroes to look up to but fans of my generation had just one.
It was hard following a very ordinary Indian cricket team in the early 90’s as a young boy. Sachin was our only solace and only hope during those days. The reason lots of Indian cricket fans during that time, cared more about Sachin’s achievement rather than Indian teams result can also be attributed to that fact. A Sachin great innings meant that India won or at least lost respectably. If he failed, India failed. There were no saviors in the squad then, our chances rose and died with Sachin’s wicket. The opponent knew that, Indian team knew that and so did the fans who watched the game.
Sachin carried Indian batting in spite of the debuts of Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman in the mid-nineties. It took a while for these players to establish themselves, I would say that Dravid and Ganguly did not arrive until 1999/00 and Laxman until 2001. The Sachin phenomenon is much more than just wins and losses that people care about in the current generation. He carried the hopes of millions of fans during a time when there was not much to cheer about the Indian cricket team. He made tons of runs in difficult conditions against great bowlers without any support. It’s hard to describe the impact he had on the Indian cricket fans during that time.
Now 21 years later, he still continues to enthrall his fans. Still scores tons and tons of runs. Still is one of India’s best players while playing abroad. Sachin is much more than just another cricketing great. He is an inspiration, an icon and a wonderful role model to every Indian youngster. People might have their favorites and might pick various stats to pull the great man down but for me Sachin’s impact on Indian cricket and fans is much beyond the numbers. I am proud to be born in the same era as Sachin. I am extremely happy that he is part of one of the best Indian teams ever as he deserves to be in one. Sachin for sure needs his time under the sun as he has been part of frustrating Indian losses in the past. Sachin is according to me the greatest Indian cricketer and arguably the best player of his generation in the world. I hope that he scales many more peaks before he hangs up his boots.
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