Mumbai: With Sachin Tendulkar set to play his farewell Test in Mumbai next week against the West Indies, two of his former team-mates on Thursday heaped praise on him.
"It is a mixed moment personally for me. We are used to seeing that after wicket number 2, the person who goes to bat is Sachin Tendulkar. That we will miss. But we are also proud to witness history of any player playing 200 Tests. That is something phenomenal because nobody has done that before. He is a real ambassador for the game," said former middle-order batsman Pravin Amre.
Amre remembered his debut ODI at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata when he and Tendulkar won the match for the team. "When I made my (ODI) debut in 1991 against South Africa in Kolkata, Sachin was at the non-striker's end. It was a very important (moment) and there were nerves as it was my first match. We scored half-centuries and won that match.
"In that match, he said we need to see off Alan Donald's spell because he was bowling well. I was the last recognised batsman and at that age (itself) he knew how to read the game and the wicket," Amre said.
The 45-year-old Amre also said he cherished the time when India won the Hero Cup semifinal against South Africa, thanks to Tendulkar's miserly last over. "I remember him and salute him the way he took the responsibility in the Hero Cup semifinal. He himself went out there and took (hold of) that ball. No other cricketer will take that step because your reputation is at stake.
"But he liked that challenge and that is the reason why he is a champion. He likes to go there and meet the challenge and that was the beginning - in Hero Cup - when he bowled that over and we won that match. I was in the playing 11 and cherish it because he went out there with a lion's heart and took that responsibility for the team and we became the champions," he said.
Tendulkar's another former team-mate Chandrakant Pandit said watching the little master's 200th Test would be once in a lifetime experience. "The 200th Test match that Sachin will play will be once in a lifetime experience for us. We were lucky to play with him and now watch his final match. As a youngster, he used to give tips to senior players. He was so talented and had so much knowledge."
Pandit also praised Shardashram school's coach Ramakant Achrekar for guiding Tendulkar's destiny. "I salute the vision of our coach Ramakant Achrekar, because he (Tendulkar) was a 12-year-old boy. When we used to practice at the nets and he (Sachin) used to come, coach used to look at him differently. He never said about any cricketer that he has a lot of talent but sir used to motivate cricketers differently."