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so much like a breathless fan than an inquisitive journalist.” But we also talked about another of my memorable Sachin moments, though from the press gallery, at Port Elizabeth, December 28 1992, in the first post-apartheid cricket series in South Africa. With India in trouble in the second innings, Sachin was given out for a first ball duck, caught Dave Richardson (wicket-keeper), bowled Brett Shultz. Sachin stood there, transfixed. The ball had clearly gone off the top of his pad. But the finger had gone up. He had already been a veteran of 20 Tests and 1085 runs, but for those moments, he was like a baby whose rattle had been snatched away. He trudged back, eyes wet and tears drifting down his still chikna cheeks. That visual was made for TV promos and was used often to promote India-South Africa encounters. At 33, when we talked, on camera, Sachin still blushed as he recalled it. He recalled also how this had melted the heart of the umpire as well. He came to him later to say sorry, he had bungled. But Sachin was still pained, more than a decade later, as just one more good innings (besides Kapil Dev’s Stan McCabe-esque last-stand 100) could have saved that Test, and the series for India.
Much more will be written by better and more knowledgeable storytellers on Sachin’s great cricketing moments, his contribution to the game you could describe as the subcontinent’s only secular religion, his records, averages, how he mastered Warne and Murali, Shoaib and McGrath, his enthusiasm, attitude and so on. The important thing for me, the non-expert, “general” type is that his rise coincided with that of a new India. His debut year, 1989, marked the end of Congress dominance and the rise of many “third” forces and democratic mutinies, Mandir, Mandal, then the mortgaging of gold, and finally, the economic reform. If you had any doubts that cricket is a reflection of the mood and health of our society and economy, look at how our record changed 1989 onwards. You can then ascribe it to the arrival of