Rohit Sharma, tipped to find a regular spot in the Test side after Tendulkar’s retirement
Like any young boy in the late '90s, I too was a Sachin Tendulkar fan. I tried to copy him; be it his batting, particularly his drive and his general style.
I wanted to meet him. During my school days I borrowed a book from one of my friends — The Making of a Cricketer — which was written by Ajit Tendulkar, Sachin's elder brother. I was an average student and didn't like to read. But that book was something different because it was about Sachin. I could relate to his life. I know people will wonder how I found something common between his life and my life, but that book gave me the feeling that I was in some way part of his universe as I realised that Sachin had played in the same school tournament in which I was playing in at that time.
I bunked school to watch Sachin bat at a stadium for the first time. This was in the year 2000 when Mumbai were playing Baroda at the MIG ground in Bandra. Mumbai had Sachin, Vinod Kambli, Sameer Dighe in their ranks, while Baroda had fielded Zaheer Khan and Nayan Mongia too. I quietly picked my school bag during the break, got into a local train without buying a ticket
I didn’t have a match pass for the game but luckily for me there was a wooden stand erected alongside the road to allow those who didn't have a pass to watch the game. Though the stand was full, I somehow managed to find some place near a tree that was beside the stand. What I recall is that Tendulkar batted brilliantly that day.
When Sachin started using MRF bats, I too wanted one. But I couldn't afford one. When I used to pass by sports goods shops, I would stand and stare at MRF bats. I even searched for a MRF sticker to paste on my bat but I couldn't find one. I couldn't but help laugh when the MRF company contacted me last year asking me to put their MRF logo on my bat. I had tried to get a MRF bat all my life and now they wanted me to play with one.
It was Chandu sir (Chandrakant Pandit) who introduced me to Sachin