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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sachin Tendulkar playing his best cricket: Ex-coach Ramakant Achrekar

Ramakant Achrekar, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s 79-year-old former coach, was not part of the frenzied celebrations across the city following India’s win against Pakistan in the cricket World Cup semifinal on Wednesday. But that is also not to say he was indifferent.

Though bed-ridden in his Dadar flat, he prayed for his one-time student and the country till the very last ball while watching the match on television.

“Sachin calls me regularly. The last time he called me was before the match against Pakistan. I told him to just concentrate on his job, which is to ensure a win for India. It was a big-pressure match for him and for India,” says Achrekar, his eyes lighting up every time Sachin’s name comes up in the conservation.

‘Achrekar Sir’, as he is famously called out of respect, excitedly adds: “I can say Sachin is playing his best cricket right now. His dedication to the game is an example of how life should be lived.”

Talking in fits and starts, he adds: “It will be the best gift for me if India wins the World Cup and Sachin scores his 100th century in the match.”

The Padma Shri and Dronacharya award winner has been instrumental in shaping Sachin’s career since an early stage. He coached budding cricketers at Sharadashram Vidyamandir in Dadar where Sachin studied. Vinod Kambli, Ajit Agarkar, and Romesh Pawar are some of the other international players whom Achrekar coached.

Meanwhile, the mood at nearby Shivaji Park, where youngsters dressed in white play cricket in the scorching afternoon is upbeat. They feel confident about India’s victory in the final.

“Considering the kind of cricket India is playing at the moment, I think the team is simply unstoppable. The tricolour will win on Saturday,” says Umer Shah, a youngster, with a look of conviction.

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