Sehwag I knew

It was 2001. Sehwag had just started showing bit of his potential. His Sports agent met me for a possible association with Samsung. I told her to wait for 6 months. In that period I was putting together a team for Team Samsung to counter LG’s ICC partnership and 2003 World Cup. 6 months later I met him to sign the contract. One of the most non assuming celebrities I have ever met (apart from Rahul Dravid). His hand was in plaster. The smile that Jarrod Kimber talks off in his article on cricinfo, it was there. No airs about him… just a boy from Najafgarh… kind of bewildered with all the hype that was happening around him.

Over the next one year we did some shoots. He was interesting, cheeky and funny during the shoots. Again a year later I met him. I was there for a shoot with Atul Kasbekar. Sehwag was there too along with Sachin Tendulkar for adidas shoot. Sehwag by then was rocking the world with his imperious cover drives and square cuts. He was a star. And yet, the moment he saw me, he came and hugged… introduced me to Sachin, who I must say didn’t even bother to smile.

That was the last we met. But over the years I obviously enjoyed his cricket like everyone else… cursed him for getting out like everyone else. But through it all, we all knew that he was a special talent. He, more than anyone else got the aggression into the Indian team. Aggression is not about tantrums or a an expression on your face. Aggression is the bowler wondering from the very first ball of a test match innings as to what will happen. He did that to them. Every bowler knew he had a chance against Sehwag. The only question was if the chance will come soon or 200 runs later.

And cricket statisticians might want to correct me but from whatever cricket I have watched (and I have watched a lot), his innings always was constructed with boundaries (fours). One would imagine that for a strike rate of 80 in test cricket, he would also be hitting lot of sixers but his batting was about fours and cheeky singles.

He did revolutionise the way India played cricket and some of his knocks will always be part of Indian cricket folklore. Hats off to you Veeru. You did us proud.

Sachin Tendulkar on TV – the only way to watch him play

Yet another record and yet another milestone and many more to come… Twenty years of performing at the top.

Everyone would envy the people who were at the ground witnessing the event. Yes they were the lucky few. But I am glad that I have watched and would continue to watch cricket on TV.

People  would have watched all the shots on the ground and everything would have been a blur. Three hours and fourty five mins of watching ‘blink and you miss show’!

But only the people who watch on TV would have seen the steely resolve in his eyes. The absolute calm on his face which probably belied the swirl of emotions inside. Channel 9 in Australia now has the technology which tracks the rate of heart beat of the players on the field. How I wish that we had that technology operating over here. Or the day of the India-Pakistan match in 2003 World Cup when he looked pumped and came out with an intention to decide the match in first 10 overs.

There are moments that can only remain in our memory because we watched on TV. The dejection  after scoring 175 against Australia last year and losing. Or that day in Chennai when he took us so close to beating Pakistan.

It is the ultimate sight… a huge stadium and all the fielders spread around like predators and the bowler charging in (or in case of someone like Shane Warne trying to play mindgames)… the camera starts zooming into this figure taking guard and ready to make those instant decisions in his mind in a fraction of a second as to which shot would be required for the ball coming at him… How many on the ground would ever be able to see what I watch on TV.

You would never be able to miss out the way wrists move the bat when the ball goes whizzing past point or the movement of the body to change the line of the ball for the paddle sweep or the head so still and the bat coming down in a straight arc for that effortless straight drive… And the thrill of enjoying the shots again and again in the replays that happen… On the ground, the shot is over and gone… and in spite of all the large screens put up on the ground, you can never savor the feeling of the shot… similar to that beer going down your throat. Which actually brings me to another point… The beer just doesn’t taste the same on ground as it does when sprawled in front of the TV…

I have, like many others have been watching Sachin for 20 years now… had the opportunity for a very brief hand shake when I met him at a shoot. I still have the tee shirt that a friend of mine got signed by Sachin for me during a Pepsi shoot (its still wrapped in transparent bag and safe in my cupboard).

20 years of watching him and living the highs and the lows through his eyes… walking into the ground for taking guard… or walking back after getting  out… That walk back when I (because I become Sachin) am out for a low score… the silence of the crowd is actually deafening) or the walk back after having done enough to ensure an Indian victory… the agony in the past when in spite of having done enough and India loses… biting of the nails and despondence on the face at the closing presentation…

We see around us many Sports stars who have been icons and have either disappeared or have let the fame get to their head (including many wannabes too)… but yet to come across a man who for 20 years have believed in only one thing – the game itself… Sure this game has given him enough… but for this man I think… every match when he goes to take guard.. the excitement and anticipation is the same as it was on his debut…

Hats off Sachin… and I think it is rather unfortunate that it took a 200 in an ODI for me to write a post… But this is a post which may not be read by anybody and yet it will remain in this virtual world forever…