ANI Photo | From first visit to Wankhede as fan to taking Gavaskar’s dressing room seat, Sachin spills it all at his statue unveiling

After being immortalised in the form of a statue at the iconic Wankhede Stadium, India’s cricketing colossus Sachin Tendulkar shared some of the previously unheard stories from his decorated cricketing career.
Sachin’s life-sized statue was unveiled at the Wankhede Stadium on the eve of India’s World Cup clash against Sri Lanka. The statue is dedicated to 50 years of Tendulkar’s life and was installed by MCA near the Sachin Tendulkar Stand at the stadium.
At the unveiling of the statue, Sachin shared some memories from his career that not many know. One of those memories was from his final Test against West Indies in 2013 at the Wankhede stadium.
“The 2013 was the most emotional day of my life on a cricket field. I remember batting against West Indies and they (broadcasters) started showing my mother on the big screen. I was trying hard not to lose focus. Seeing my family members on the big screen, I struggled to stay focused at the crease. I couldn’t help but wonder if the broadcaster was supporting us or the West Indies, as they were trying to engage the crowd while the Test had still not been done and dusted. These are memories that bring a smile to your face,” Sachin said at the event.
While his final Test moved him to tears at his favourite Wankhede, India’s triumph in the 2011 World Cup made him the happiest, Sachin recalled.
“But the happiest day was no doubt lifting the (World Cup) trophy in 2011. I couldn’t have asked or dreamt of a better moment in my career,” Sachin added.
The Wankhede Stadium holds a special place in the heart of the ‘Master Blaster’. Even before Sachin made his debut at the ground as a cricketer, his first appearance at the iconic stadium was as a fan supporting the Indian team at the age of 10 years from the North Stadn of Wankhede.
“My first visit to Wankhede Stadium was way back in 1983. I was only 10 years old. West Indies had come to India and it was just after India had won the 1983 World Cup. My brother’s friends decided to go for this match. I don’t know how it came about but a 10-year-old Sachin was also asked to accompany them. I went along with them and enjoyed the game while cheering for the team from the North Stand. When that stand gets behind the team, nobody can stop India. So I was a part of that North Stand gang. On my way back home, I heard that we did well. There were 25 of us and we only had 24 tickets. They told me that we had to hide Sachin and sneak him into the stadium without drawing attention,” Sachin said.
Years later, Sachin got an opportunity to visit the dressing room, which, as his career progressed, gave him some of his most cherished cricketing memories.
“I was selected as a ball boy in the 1987 World Cup. I was sitting right here when a certain gentleman by the name of Sunil Gavaskar invited me to the dressing room I can never forget that. I was 14 then. For a 14-year-old to get invited into the dressing room was a big thing. Next year, I made my debut for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. But unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to play alongside Sunil Gavaskar. There were 7 or 8 India players in the playing eleven in the dressing room. As I walked into the dressing room looking for a spot, a seat at the far left was vacant. I placed my kit bag there. It was later that I learnt that it was Sunil Gavaskar’s seat,” Sachin added.
Speaking at the event, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed his delight over the unveiling of Sachin’s statue at the Wankhede Stadium.
“It’s a happy day today as we unveil the statue of Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. I thank everyone for being here today. The entire stadium used to echo with Sachin’s name. His statue will stand as a source of inspiration for the future generation of cricketers. We are all proud of Sachin. Such was his popularity and greatness that even umpires would find it hard to raise their fingers when he got out. The statue will only elevate the stature of the Wankhede,” Shinde said. (ANI)

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