I would like to start by dedicating a small painting to Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. I was really inspired to paint after hearing the news of his retirement and thought of this as my small personal tribute to a living legend, someone who has been an inspiration to me all my life.

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As kids we have all had a favorite superhero. For me it was Sachin Tendulkar. He is my real life Spider-Man and truly represents – “With great power comes great responsibility”. A responsibility he has carried for 24 long years and scaled every possible summit in world of cricket.

I really don’t have much to say about his cricketing greatness. He has accomplished every conceivable feat in the game and been a pillar of strength for the past two decades. We all grew up watching him play and feel truly blessed to be born in the same generation.

I would like to write a little about how he has influenced me and probably millions more in countless ways outside the cricket arena. Not a lot gets said about his personality off the cricket ground. It has been incredible to witness how he has conducted himself on and off the cricket field. Simplicity, humility and humbleness are few words that instantly pop out as I think of Sachin. On the cricket field, he has always let his bat do all the talking. Never can I recollect seeing Sachin involved in a brawl, nasty argument or any real big controversy in his long illustrious career. I have always admired his public conduct and to me he set an example that many have tried to follow in personal lives. He is a man of few words and billion deeds. To be born in India and carry expectations of million fans every time he walked in and took guard is unimaginable. A feat he has attempted with all his heart and to a great extent successfully achieved in every match, every over, every ball.

Sachin has had his long share of ups and down. But like all true champions Tendulkar has challenged his decline. In 2007, the legend had been on the road for eighteen years and the whispers were growing for him to step down were growing louder. He hit eleven Test centuries in the next three years, produced one-day international scores of 163, 175 and 200 and won a World Cup medal, the one thing he always craved for.  Only a true champion could have generated such a colossal second wind. I have envied this strength to rise every time with self belief and feel in some ways has helped me in my personal and professional life. It has taught me to rise up during tough times and give my best in every aspect of life.

I have had the privilege of watching Sachin up close at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. I was fortunate to witness a practice session a day before India vs. Sri Lanka test match in 1999. The memory of that day remains fresh in my heart like it just happened yesterday. Seeing him bat in the nets and watch him play his vintage drives and pulls that close will remain with me rest of my life. I hope to someday meet the maestro again. I can’t resist talking about my dream job. If Sachin is listening, my dream job would be to be part of the Mumbai Indians dug-out sitting cheering the side under the shadow of chief mentor Sachin Tendulkar.

When I think of Sachin, I think of every possible quality that exemplifies greatness. He has been a perfect ambassador of the game and a role model to millions in India and around the globe. I salute the legend and master craftsman who has kept bringing cheer in my life for so many years. I was 13 when Sachin made his debut. In those days, I would wait anxiously for weeks before that super charged series down under. Like so many kids of my age ask my Dad to wake me up in the middle of a night to see that first ball without a blink of eyes. Watching him score a ton would keep me cheerful for few weeks ahead while an early dismissal would make me grumpy and irritated for the next day or two. Just a glimpse of a straight drive, during final exams would fill me with world of confidence. Sachin always brought joy and smile in rain or sunshine. I don’t really have a word to describe that feeling – it kinda just felt Nice!

I would always dream of a day when Sachin would retire and it would end my interest in the game of cricket. I’m glad my nightmare hasn’t completely turned true. The day of his retirement is not that far, but he has inspired many budding youngsters in a cricket mad nation and leaves us in safe hands under MS and the likes of Virat, Rohit, Dhawan and more. I hope he remains close to the game in some form or the other. I expect him to be more behind the scenes in a mentor role opposed to sitting in the commentary box and delivering a post match presentation.

I would like to end with yet another portrait and presentation in tribute of Tendulkar. This is a reproduction of my work from 1998. This one is really special to my heart. The God is retiring but religion continues to live on.

Long live Sachin! Long live Cricket!