A day ahead of a tri-nation final in Sri Lanka in July 1998, Team India coach Anshuman Gaekwad got a call from a bookie that India was going to lose the match.
He didn’t waste any time and informed Sachin Tendulkar about it. “Sachin told me, ‘don’t worry, we will win’, and went on to score a century that set up our title triumph,” Gaekwad told TOI.
That was the hallmark of Tendulkar in those troubled years of the late 1990s, when Indian cricket was going through one of its worst phases.
“He was the man who was beyond all suspicion and the positive effect he had on the likes of Yuvraj and Zaheer, who were just coming in, was unbelievable,” Gaekwad said.
Tendulkar, just by the sheer weight of his dedication and performances, commanded unbelievable respect in the team in those days of uncertainty.
He lost his captaincy on the back of a poor Australia tour in 1999-2000, but his hunger to perform never diminished, as the entire team looked upto him in situations of crisis.
A new-look Indian team was just finding its feet in the early 2000s when a huge controversy broke out in South Africa, which almost prompted the BCCI to recall its team.
During the second Test in Port Elizabeth, Tendulkar was blamed by match referee Mike Denness for ball-tampering while a host of players, including skipper Sourav Ganguly, were fined for excessive appealing.
‘Keeper Deep Dasgupta, who was one of the players to be blamed, recalls how Tendulkar took everything in his stride and looked to keep the young lot away from the controversy.
“We knew Sachin would never do something that is not in the spirit of the game…. He, on the other hand, kept telling us just to focus on the game and not lose sight of our goals. Sachin played a big role in keeping our morale high in those troubled times,” Dasgupta said.
Coach Greg Chappell blamed it on the seniors, saying that some of them lacked commitment. It was also told to the media that it was the Little Master’s reluctance to bat at No. 4 in ODIs that created negative vibes in the team.
The situation was going out of hand when Sachin pulled the curtain down on the issue, giving an interview to TOI, where he told that “no coach had ever mentioned in passing that my attitude was incorrect”.
Chappell was immediately sacked and the Aussie great later regretted the fall-out. “My biggest regret was falling out with Sachin over him batting at No. 4 in the ODI team… My impatience to see improvement across the board was my undoing in the end,” Chappell said.
The Little Master, who was batting at the other end when the incident happened, made it clear that Harbhajan hadn’t said anything wrong, and match referee Mike Procter was prompt to overturn the ban.
The Aussies, including Ricky Ponting, is still sore about it, but Tendulkar showed that when it came to standing by his teammate, there was no one like the Little Master.
Article source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/series-tournament/sachin-tendulkar-to-hang-his-boots/top-stories/Sachin-Tendulkar-deals-with-controversies-in-style/articleshow/25665171.cms