The trailer for Sachin: A Billion Dreams is out already and we can't wait to watch the movie. It's time for Sachinnnnnn! Sachin! all over again. And while we wait for the movie to release, here are 10 episodes from his illustrious career that could make for a smashing opening scene:
1. He was an engineer, in a bus, urgently waving at the bus conductor. His stop was up next and he hadn’t bought a ticket yet. He got up and walked to the end of the aisle, paid for his ticket, and stepped out as the bus halted.
The conductor didn’t hold on to the coin for much longer. It ended up with the middle-aged man who wore a t-shirt and track pants. At the next stop, he too got off the bus and headed for the maidan.
He placed the coin on the stump as the teenage batsman practiced at the nets. The latter had a deal with his coach: if he survived the entire session without getting out, the coin would be his. He had won 12 already. At the end of the session, Ramakanth Achrekar handed Sachin Tendulkar his 13th coin.
2. He strode out of the crease and opened his body as he smacked the ball over long on for six. His partner walked up from the non-striker’s end and they exchanged a fist bump. The bowler haplessly turned to his captain for inspiration but the latter looked equally clueless. He shrugged at his bowler. He was 14 years old; how was he supposed to know what to do!
The partnership had reached 664. This was no international match but this young man looked every bit like a man who belonged in one. He himself was on 326, as suggested the scoreboard at the Harris Shield Inter-School Tournament.
The years passed but some things don’t change. Yet again, he stepped out in trademark fashion and smashed another hapless delivery over long on for six. The bowler turned to his captain apologetically. This time, the captain was no 14-year-old, he was Mark Taylor.
3. “Yeh toh bachcha hai! Kaise khelega?”
The taunts were loud and clear all around the Sialkot Stadium in Pakistan. India were reeling at 38/4, hardly the setting for a 16-year-old to walk in to bat. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan were locked in conference, debating on how to get this guy out. Seriously, yeh khel paayega?
Things got bloody. Literally. The youngster had just scored his first run when Waqar bowled yet another short-pitched delivery. The rookie misjudged the ball completely. It rose higher than he expected and hit the flap of his helmet before deflecting on to his nose. There he stood with his face bloodied, in obvious pain, wincing yet determined. The physio came and attended to him. The minutes passed. The commentators were still talking about the delivery, but the 16-year-old was already thinking about the next one.
4. Trophies and photographs adorned every bit of space on and around the television set. On the tiny screen, you could make out the players in yellow and blue. The old man in the rocking chair was watching in rapt attention. The yellow scarf around his neck betrayed his allegiance, but for some time now, his attention had been caught by the batsman in blue.
The old man could barely believe his eyes. He pushed the bridge of his spectacles higher up his nose. He sat up all of a sudden as the batsman painted another glorious cover drive. “Jessie,” he called out, “JESSIE!”
From the interiors of his house, his aged wife came hurriedly, worried that something had happened. The old man’s eyes were still fixed on the television so it did not register that his wife was in the room. “JESSIE,” he shouted again.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, panting for breath, her face pale with worry.
5. The big, burly Australian felt pleased with himself, with the suggestion he had made. It was a hard thing to tell a teenager but it needed to be done. Back in the day, he was one of the best in the business. He could call talent when he saw it. And that’s exactly what he was doing.
This young bowler had something about him. He had the fire, the hunger. His bowling action wasn’t too bad either. But you could tell that this kid wasn’t going to be a world beater. He would be good, but he would never be great. So he told the kid to focus on his batting instead. His technique there was not too bad either.
Years later, Denis Lillee sat and shook his head as he watched Sachin Tendulkar systematically dismantle his country’s bowling attack yet again. He wasn’t feeling so pleased with the suggestion he had made all those years ago. This kid would perhaps never have become a world class bowler, but he was a world beater alright.
6. The plane screeched to a halt at the Bristol Airport and, one by one, the passengers stepped out. When the curly haired young man walked out, he held out a hand to shield his face from the shining sun. His eyes might have had the look of a man who had come to conquer the world, or it might have had the lost look of a man who had just attended his father’s last rites. You couldn’t tell because of the Ray Bans.
His cab from the airport didn’t head for any hotel. He went straight to the stadium. Just a few hours after touchdown in Zimbabwe, he was stepping out into the stadium. Another precursory look to the heavens, just like he always did when he strode out to bat. And once the innings commenced, there was no doubt that the moment would arrive.
7. No man had ever achieved the feat. No man can ever do it, they said.
Which made sense because when someone finally did it, it was the man everyone called God. The year was 2010. The setting, the Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior. The opposition, South Africa.
At 36, there were doubters already, those who dismissed him as a relic of the past, overstaying his invitation. But this wasn’t just another batsman. This was the man who picked one of the finest bowling attacks in the world before picking them apart.
8. He wasn't doing anything illegal but he didn't want to be caught here. He wore shades and a hat to be as obscure as possible and sat in his car with the windows rolled up. From there, he stared at the teenage batsman practicing in the maidan.
He had come to watch the boy bat, but he couldn't have anyone finding out. If people knew that the Little Master had come out to watch this kid bat, the pressure would kill him before he even blossomed. He didn't want to do that to the boy. He smiled when another lofted shot flew out of the maidan. The future is secure, he told himself.
The years passed. "Another sixer from... who else... Sachin Tendulkar" screamed the commentator still as amazed as he was when he saw the kid from the maidan hit yet another six.
9. Twenty two years had passed since he first walked out to bat for India. Many who had started much later had already called it a day or fallen by the wayside. But not him. He wasn't the young boy who had walked out to face Pakistan in 1989, but the fire still burnt inside him. He still bled blue for India.
He had contested in five World Cups in five different countries for twenty years, but cricket's biggest prize had continued to elude the sport's biggest ambassador. But Sachin Tendulkar was no quitter. His persistence eventually paid off. After travelling across the globe, looking for his crowning glory for over two decades, the moment finally arrived in his hometown, Mumbai.
10. It wasn't as graceful or effortless as the others. This one was laboured and overwrought, and lucky. There was a time when they came in quick succession, one after the other, all over the place, every other day. We'd all gotten used to that so much so that when they dried up and these moments became rare, we started calling for his head.
Even when it finally arrived, there were many who weren't too pleased. 'Finally!' They shrugged sarcastically. 'Against the minnows', said others. But it did not matter. The fact is that the moment had arrived.
For a moment there, when the wait seemed to stretch on forever, we'd all been apprehensive. Many thought he too was jinxed; like Don Bradman before him, maybe Sachin Tendulkar too would fall prey to the curse of 99. But when it arrived, there was an air of inevitability about it. That moment was never in doubt.