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Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan breathing fire, and hitting a boundary off Waqar while nursing a nose bloodied by a nasty snorter. He was still a child. So much a child, in fact, that he had not started to grow hair on his cheeks yet so he would need to shave.
I was in Lahore that week, to pick up the thread on Pakistani politics as Benazir seemed to be doddering and also to pick up reactions on the big political change in India: V.P. Singh had been sworn in as prime minister just that week. And reporter’s luck once again found me at the right place at the right moment: the hotel in Lahore, on a Saturday, where Krishnamachari Srikkanth’s Indian cricket team was staying. The second Test in that all-drawn series was in progress. With no social life in Pakistan, and some security issues already rising, the players were confined to the hotel in the evenings. And cricket writer (later stock market expert) Mudar Patherya had invented at leas one idea to break the monotony: Saturday Club. Every Saturday evening, the entourage got together for a bit of fun, in some kind of fancy dress. I wasn’t quite there to cover the cricket series, but was invited to that evening’s party nevertheless, painted with red lipstick like most others. And while bigger, more familiar stars were all there — this was the series where Sanjay Manjrekar first got the title The Wall for his 569 runs at an average of 94.83 — everybody’s attention was on the “child”, Sachin. They couldn’t quite pin a beard on his “chikna” face, but they did find a moustache for sure. That was my first Sachin moment, and, to date, one of the most treasured ones from my years in journalism.
We laughed about this later when I had my first, really long conversation with him for NDTV’s Walk the Talk in October 2006 at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park, probably his longest, and most generously patient media interview so far. Of course, my children pulled my leg endlessly over it, because “you sounded