When Sachin Tendulkar became the youngest Indian Test cricketer at 16 years and 205 days, he stunned the cricket world. His performances have since established him as one of the worlds leading players. Here, his brother and mentor, Ajit, looks back at Sachins remarkable debut.
ODI Debut : vs Pakistan, at Gujranwala, on 18th December 1989 at the age of 16
c Wasim Akram b Waqar Younis 0
Test Debut : vs Pakistan, at Karachi (National Stadium), on 15 November 1989 at the age of 16
b Waqar Younis 15
Ajit Tendulkar says ...
"Since Sachin started playing cricket at such a young age, I guess he always was seen as the new kid on the block. Whether it was School or Club Cricket, he was always the youngest one in the team. I think when he first played in senior club cricket for the Cricket Club of India, he was just about fifteen and most of the others in the team were already first-class players. He was playing alongside the likes of Sandeep Patil and Ravi Shastri, so big names did not matter that much to him. And I dont think Sachin was ever overawed by the fact that he was playing first-class cricket as a fifteen year old.
His first Ranji match was against Gujarat, and he scored a century in that game. His attitude right from the beginning was to think positive and believe that every match provided an opportunity to him to prove himself. His first real break, was in the same 1989 season when he scored 76 against Delhi in the semi-finals. Most of the top Bombay players were away on tour and the side was dependent on him. That match showed that Sachin had the big match temperament which is so essential to success. Raj Singh Dungarpur was the chairman of the selectors then, and he had seen Sachin from his CCI days. He wanted a younger team, a team for the 90s, and I guess, Sachin fitted in with those plans.
When he was then picked for the tour of Pakistan in 1989, at first we were a little surprised. I guess from the time of his record breaking efforts in junior cricket, we felt that he would play for India one day. But to play for India at 16 was something really special. Sachin was at first a little concerned. After all, Pakistan had bowlers like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and the emerging talent of Waqar Younis. I think for a while, Sachin wondered whether he would really be up to the task. Pakistan is not an easy place to tour, but Sachin was in the company of some of his seniors from the Bombay team like Sanjay Manjrekar, and they really helped him.
He was extremely tense in his first Test, and then when he was hit in the fourth Test by a Waqar bouncer, there were some doubts over whether it would leave a mark on his game. But in the same over that he was struck by Waqar, he hit him for a couple of boundaries. Psychologically, that was an important breakthrough. It showed that Sachin was ready for the big league.
By the time the one-dayers arrived, Sachins confidence was back, any tension that he felt at the start of the series was gone. That one over in Quetta where he struck 26 runs off Abdul Qadir was proof that Sachin had arrived. He always was a confident cricketer, now he knew he could repeat what he could do at the Ranji Trophy level at Test cricket too. I think it was after that tour that Imran remarked that Sachin would go on to become a great player.
On his next tour of New Zealand, he had a great chance of breaking Mushtaq Mohammeds record of becoming the youngest player ever to score a Test match hundred. He was out at 86 to a bad shot and afterwards I spoke to him. But although Sachin knew he had missed big chance, he was not too worried. It happens in cricket, it is no problem, he said.
I think his basic attitude always was to learn from his mistakes and keep improving all the time. It was this attitude that enabled him to make a transition to the big league so quickly. After that, Sachin scored runs all over the world, but to my mind the one knock that really made him realise his full potential was his century against South Africa in 1992. That innings showed that Sachin was now in the top flight of players since the runs were scored on a quick wicket against one of the worlds best attacks."