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Sachin Tendulkar: The batter you know, the mentor you don't

Sachin Tendulkar still holds the record for scoring the most runs in international cricket. In addition to that, Sachin has also won the most Player of the Match (POTM) awards. Virat Kohli is second on the list of players with the most Player of the Match awards in international cricket.

Written By: Kumar Rupesh @afiestysoul New Delhi Updated on: April 24, 2024 11:06 IST
Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
Image Source : BCCI Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.

Sachin Tendulkar's name is synonymous with records as the Mumbai-born scaled numerous milestones during his playing career and still holds plenty of records in international cricket even after 10 years of retirement.

While Sachin's match-winning ability as a batter is not unknown to anyone, very few are aware of his role as a mentor and how he helped his fellow teammates overcome adversities and challenges during their playing careers.

As the Master Blaster turns 51 on April 24, 2024, let's try to shed light on Sachin 'the mentor' who came to the rescue of Virat Kohli when the latter was going through the most distressing periods of his international career.

Virat always looked up to the Master Blaster since childhood and found inspiration in him. He forged many match-winning partnerships with Sachin across formats to help India bask in glory before the Master bid adieu to international cricket.

When Sachin retired from the game in November 2013, the entire world celebrated his illustrious career and many thought that it was the end of Sachin's contribution to Indian cricket.

Though Sachin has not coached the Indian men's cricket team in any form thus far, the 51-year-old has and continues to make key contributions to Indian cricket by grooming players and sharing his invaluable inputs.

While many know Sachin's role at Mumbai Indians in grooming budding talent, very few are aware of how Sachin came to Virat's rescue when the latter was going through the toughest phase of his international career and was even struggling to put bat to ball.

High on India's success in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 in English conditions, India were buoyant when they toured England for a five-match Test series and also a white-ball series in 2014.

Virat had scored 176 runs at an impressive average of 58.66 during the Champions Trophy and therefore was confident of getting plenty of runs for India in the Test series.

However, Virat endured a horrid red-ball series against the Three Lions with the willow in hand and could only manage 134 in five games at a below-par average of 13.40.

Virat's failure cast a major shadow on his international future and allowed his critics to have a go at him. While many people wrote the champion cricketer off, Virat believed in himself and sought his idol's help to end his slump.

Virat came back to India and met Sachin in Mumbai to iron out the flaws that had crept into his technique and were ailing his form.

"I came back and went to Bombay for 10 days. I spoke to him. He spent time with me. He said he watched me in England and helped me with a few technical things that are important at this level, in terms of getting a good stride in, always having intent when playing the ball and never being unsure of what to do at the crease," Virat Kohli told The Daily Telegraph in an interview.

"I never had a forward press but he told me you should go forward to a fast bowler like you would defend a spinner. Do it with the same conviction. It is the only way you can be in a good position to tackle swing, seam or anything you want. We ended up speaking a lot during that phase. Those things worked for me," Kohli said.

Cognizant of the fact that Virat was battling mental challenges as well, Sachin advised him to have a calm demeanour and focus on what worked for him instead of bothering about what was working for people around him.

"He told me about the importance of staying mentally relaxed. ‘If you do not feel like hitting the ball, don’t hit it. Do not look at other people having a great net session for long hours, go off, try and do the same thing and come out frustrated.’ That helped me a lot," added Virat.

"When trying to build a career, you straightaway try to make sure everything is in sync for you to do well. Sometimes you have to make your own decisions and because he had played for so long, the expectations and consistency made a lot of sense. From then on, I followed what I wanted to do."

Sachin's mentorship worked wonders for Virat as he went on to have a dream red-ball series against Australia in 2014-2015.

Virat finished the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy as the leading run-scorer for India and the second-leading run-getter behind Steve Smith with 692 runs in four games.

While it can be argued that a champion player like Virat Kohli would have ultimately come out of a lean phase like that, whether the turnaround would have been as swift as it eventually panned out can't be ascertained.

 

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