Quite the homecoming: Tendulkar 'humbled' by MCA's gesture as ground is named in his honour
Home is where the heart is, and for Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar it is Mumbai that has seen him grow from a wonderkid to a batting colossus over the years.
So, it was only natural that Tendulkar acknowledged the city's contribution in making him one of the greatest batsmen in history, when the maestro was felicitated by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) on Monday, ahead of his 200th Test.
"I appreciate not just this evening but the last 24 years. Thank you for all the respect, all the love, all the care that you have showered me with," said a beaming Tendulkar, when he took to the stage amid loud cheers and applause by the attendees, including his India teammates and visiting West Indies team.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar felicitating Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar during the inauguration of Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana Club in North Mumbai
The Master Blaster was also honoured ahead of his last Test match, starting on Thursday, with the MCA naming its Kandivili Ground after him in the presence of a host of political bigwigs.
"It felt special to read my name on the entry of the (MCA) club. It feels good as I am not used to it. I didn't expect this. It was a humble experience. I thank MCA for this kind gesture," he said, referring to the renamed Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana Club.
The 40-year-old Tendulkar also expressed his gratitude towards the MCA for making its facilities available to him whenever he asked for it.
"I want to thank the MCA for making the nets available for me at any time I wanted. I just needed to make a phone call to get it," he said.
Tendulkar added that the MCA had accommodated his requests at odd hours, too, for practice.
The Mumbaikar dwelled on his cricketing career which has spanned an incredible 24 years.
"To play for India has been truly memorable. I think every step was different and every tour required different kind of preparation."
MCA's president Sharad Pawar said Tendulkar would continue to inspire millions even after retirement.
"Sachin has been a precious jewel of the MCA. We are honoured to have a player like him. He has outstanding achievements in both Test and One-day cricket. He has been a great ambassador for not only the game of cricket but also for sporting community and a great role model for the youngsters to follow," he said.
"We will miss the 'Sachin! Sachin!' chant at the stadium. We thank him for giving so many pleasurable moments to the entire country for the last 24 years," he added.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan echoed Pawar's sentiment.
"Sachin is one of the greatest Indians, a great sportsperson and a great hero. He has given India years and years of sporting pleasure. He is admired not only here but all over the world. I am sure Test cricket will miss him," he said.
Where it all started
Sachin Tendulkar lived at the housing complex in Bandra for 28 years
The place where Sachin Tendulkar first picked up a bat and broke innumerable window panes is a housing complex in Mumbai. Named Sahitya Sahawas, it is situated at the Kala Nagar area in Bandra East.
Kala Nagar is famous for being the late Balasaheb Thackeray's abode. But Sahitya Sahawas, with nine buildings, is known for its association with creative people, who have won plaudits for their work in literature.
In fact, all the nine buildings have been named after Marathi poets. The ambience of the complex is such that hardly anyone would associate it with the growing up of the legendary cricketer but Tendulkar seemed to have taken inspiration from the positive atmosphere.
The complex also houses a small playing ground.
Tendulkar spent the first 28 years of his life in this complex.
Sachin used to reside with his parents in the fourth floor of 'Usha Kaal'. A resident revealed how the Master Blaster drew inspiration from his father, late Ramesh Tendulkar.
Tendulkar's childhood neighbour and friend Sunil Harse, a developer/rain water harvesting consultant, expressed his delight at his association with the maestro.
"I am blessed that Sachin and I spent many colourful years together at Sahitya Sahawas. Although Sachin shifted to his new house at Bandra East, he is a frequent visitor here. The residents of this complex still distribute sweets whenever Sachin scores a century," he said.
Harse said Tendulkar was also very close to his elder brother.
"Ajit took his younger brother to the field and although the other players would make fun of his size, Tendulkar surprised everyone with his array of strokes. He was also more than a handful with the ball and he was always in demand for his all-round skills," he added.
The small playground at the Sahitya Sahawas housing complex in Mumbai - one of the buildings is Usha Kaal where Tendulkar was born and brought up
Tendulkar also came to visit an ailing friend after scoring his hundredth international ton in March last year.
Senior citizens remember him as a curly-haired boy who used to torment them with his strokes. But they are all proud of his achievements and swear by his simplicity.
He may have touched dizzying heights on the cricket field but the residents of Sahitya Sahawas will always consider him to be one of their own.
Fans left high and dry as ticket website crashes
Fans eager to watch Sachin Tendulkar at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai for his farewell Test match were in for a shock on Monday, when the website meant for booking tickets crashed soon after it opened.
KyaZoonga.com, the official ticketing partner for the second India-West Indies Test from November 14-18, was swamped with huge number of surfers who wanted to buy tickets for the much-awaited match.
Only 5,000 tickets are available for fans eager to watch Sachin's last Test
The Mumbai Cricket Association had decided to sell just 5,000 tickets online to the general public. Around 3,000 tickets were made available for sale, excluding the 1,500 special tickets priced at Rs 10,000.
The price category for the online sale was - Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,500. The Wankhede has the capacity to seat 32,000 people.
The shortage of tickets is due to the MCA's agreement with the Garware Cricket Club and the Tatas.
The MCA has to give 4,500 tickets to the Garware Cricket Club for every international match, a similar amount go to the Tatas, and then tickets are also distributed among the 350 clubs that are affiliated to the MCA.
Also, tickets are issued to sponsors, former players and even umpires. Sachin Tendulkar has been given 500 tickets by the MCA so that he can get his friends and family members in to watch him play.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/, By BHASKAR PAUL