India batsman Suresh Raina recalled the time when he was a youngster and how like every aspiring cricketer, was left mesmerised by Sachin Tendulkar’s batting. In 1998, the year Tendulkar ruled scoring nine ODI centuries, Raina was yet to turn a teenager, and recalled the troubles he and his friends had to undergo to watch the great man bat. When Tendulkar scored those famous back-to-back centuries against Australia in Sharjah, Raina reveals he skipped school to watch his favourite cricketer in action.
“We had TV at home, an Uptron, but with only Doordarshan on it,” Raina told Times of India. “We used to bunk the last two periods of school because the tournament in Sharjah was going on. Sachin paaji used to open in that era. We used to watch only Sachin paaji’s batting or Dravid bhai’s. But once Sachin got out, we would leave.”
The first of the two centuries, which is famously known as ‘The Desert Storm’ knock, Sachin hit a belligerent 143, and although it wasn’t enough to help India secure the win, the innings allowed the team to qualify for the final. As the two teams did battle in the final again, Tendulkar followed his 143 with a sizzling 134 as India lifted the Coca Cola Cup.
“We were just kids. I was just 12 at that time, used to study in seventh standard. Sachin Tendulkar was a big name,” said Raina, who was Tendulkar’s teammate when India won the World Cup in 2011.
“Paaji (Tendulkar) made two consecutive hundreds, hit Michael Kasprowicz for huge sixes. On top of that, the commentary of Tony Greig, who was also a big name. The form that Paaji was in and the kind of commentary, though our English wasn’t that good at the time, the excitement his voice generated added another flavour.”