A Sharjah resident's tribute to Sachin Tendulkar
If you were a true-blue Sachin Tendulkar fan before digitalization changed our lives, you would know the joy of laying your hands on the sports pages of a newspaper that celebrated the iconic Indian cricketer’s greatest triumphs.
Remember keeping a scrapbook of a jaw-dropping Tendulkar moment?
Like that wintry 1989 afternoon in Peshawar when a 16-year-old Tendulkar gave the first glimpse into his genius by hoisting Abdul Qadir for three sixes in an over, after the Pakistani wizard had challenged the baby-faced Indian batsman to hit him against the turn.
Now more than 30 years after Tendulkar famously rose to that challenge, the avalanche of social media posts on the Indian maestro has buried the scrapbooks that were once close to our hearts.
But Dr Mandar V. Bichu, a Sharjah-based Indian paediatrician and a big Tendulkar fan, has now resurrected our Sachin scrapbooks by launching a one-of-a-kind web museum to celebrate the world’s most admired cricketer.
TendulkarCricket.Com was born last month on a special day — April 24 — when Tendulkar was celebrating his 48th birthday.
It’s a one-stop shop for the aficionados that long for rare footage of the maestro’s epic duels in his 24-year journey.
On one hand, it has videos featuring a teenage Tendulkar showing his wondrous talent against Abdul Qadir, Richard Hadlee and Patrick Patterson, and then, on the other hand, you would find the masterpieces the legendary Indian conjured against Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Curtly Ambrose, Dale Steyn, Shoaib Akhtar and, of course, the two deadly Ws — Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
“Whenever I would go to YouTube to check out different innings and watch some of his past matches and innings that I had not seen earlier, I would realise that there’s such a wealth of material which has been posted by many cricket admirers,” says Dr Mandar. “But since it’s not in one place, it doesn’t offer archival value. So that is why I wanted to put them all together in one place. And I have always believed, you know, in the importance of preserving history for the future generations.”
Remarkably, Dr Mandar collected more than 400 videos for his Tendulkar museum while recovering from Covid-19. “I was hospitalised in January and recovered after a one-and-a-half-month battle with the disease. So, this project brought back joy through these nostalgic Sachin moments during those bleak times,” he says.
But it’s a project that still would not have seen the light of the day if not for the contributions of the legions of Tendulkar fans around the world.
“I have been able to create a museum because of the contributions all the fans have been making on YouTube. They are doing a fantastic job by uploading rare videos from the past,” he says. “But yes, I have managed to put it all together in one place because many times, some of those videos can be hidden from your view (on YouTube) amid thousands of videos.”
Not just the 400-plus videos that he has preserved, this museum also features rare Tendulkar interviews as well as interviews with other players acknowledging the Indian genius.
“Listening to legendary players like Richard Hadlee and what they said about Sachin makes you realise his greatness even more,” shares Dr Mandar with a smile.
However, it was not Tendulkar that had Dr Mandar drooling in his younger days. “My entire childhood was spent idolising Sunil Gavaskar. I was in medical college when Gavaskar retired. Then I heard about a young Sachin Tendulkar,” he recalls.
Dr Mandar remembers that one of his close friends used to live in the same residential complex where Sachin’s family also resided. “He used to tell us about this boy who had an amazing talent,” he says. “But I only started following Sachin after his India debut in 1989. And it was a real journey of joy and pride that he gave for those 24 years that he played. He was a young boy who grew into a legendary cricketer.”
Dr Mandar is yet to get a chance to meet Tendulkar, but Sharjah did offer this cricket-loving Indian doctor an opportunity to see the master craftsman at work.
“I was fortunate to attend his ‘Desert Storm’ in 1998. I witnessed that magic at the Sharjah Stadium,” he says, referring to Tendulkar’s stupendous 143 against Australia in a match briefly halted by a sandstorm.
And now, if you want to ride the wave of that Desert Storm without moving an inch, you can just log on to TendulkarCricket.Com, the 21st century scrapbook for every true-blue Sachin Tendulkar fan.