Mumbai: As Sachin Tendulkar plays his last match, watching from the stands was Suru Nayak, his first room-mate during the 1987-88 Ranji Trophy match.
Speaking to Gulf News, Nayak recalled the days when the young Tendulkar and he shared a room during the Ranji Trophy match against Baroda. Though Tendulkar was selected at the age of 14, the selectors decided not to play him in the fast Moti Baug pitch since some of them felt he was too tiny and may not be able to play.
“At 14, Tendulkar was the youngest member of the team, and Chandrakant Pandit who was our captain, decided that he should share the room with me since I was the senior player in the team,” recalled former India pacer Nayak, who is now the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cricket operations manager.
Nayak was the first to experience Tendulkar’s restlessness at night, although he did have some idea that he may not be selected into the final eleven. “Whenever I looked at him, he was taking batting stances in the room and practising different shots. I used to find him very fidgety at nights, and he was quite a restless boy,” he noted.
Though Tendulkar had to wait until the next season to be picked in the Mumbai XI, the way the young boy batted at the nets impressed Nayak. “Watching him bat was indeed a treat. Our team had some good bowlers at that time but he handled them with ease,” said Nayak.
“The sparkle in his eye, coupled with his enthusiasm, was something special. But frankly, at that time I never thought he would go on to become such a great batsman,” he said.
Recalling his delight when Tendulkar scored his century on debut against Gujarat, he said: “The way he batted in that match was superb. That’s when we got the feeling that he will go a long way. And he has exceeded all our expectations to become the greatest batsman of the era.”