File Pic: Sachin Tendulkar and Dilip Vengsarkar (Getty Images)
MUMBAI: Dilip Vengsarkar was captain of the Indian team when a teenager named Sachin Tendulkar was destroying bowling attacks in Mumbai’s school cricket tournaments. Vengsarkar said that he first got a taste of Tendulkar’s talents when the Indian team was practicing in Mumbai ahead of a Test match against New Zealand in 1988, which was to be Vengsarkar’s 100th Test.
“‘Actually, I had heard about Sachin because he was scoring heavily in inter-school matches. These tournaments are 100 years old (and) have given a lot of cricketers for Mumbai and for India,” Vengsarkar said in a Facebook Live video interview with Sportskeeda.
“At the time I was India’s captain, and I was about to play my 100th Test match against New Zealand in Mumbai. We were practicing there. Our coach Vasudev Paranjpe was very impressed with Sachin, and he said, ‘look at this boy, he’s an exceptional talent’. I told him ‘I can look at him later, not now’. But he insisted.
“So he got him on the ground, I had to see him bat at the nets. I requested Kapil Dev, Arshad Ayub, Maninder Singh, Chetan Sharma to bowl to him. They were like ‘what is this thing like. Why should we bowl to an U-15 kid’,” Vengsarkar said.
The 64-year-old said that the bowlers finally agreed to bowl to Tendulkar and the youngster impressed him.
“So I told them he has been scoring runs in school tournaments, so we have to see him how we bat. So he batted. Hats off to those bowlers, they were established cricketers, but still they said they will bowl for a while. But Sachin was so impressive, he played so well.”
He then revealed that he then pushed for the teenaged Tendulkar to be picked in the Mumbai team during a selection meeting that evening.
“The same evening, we had a selection meeting to pick the Bombay team. I attended the meeting. I told them about Sachin. ‘I just saw him bat, he’s very good. So, pick him in the 15-member squad’
“They said ‘it’s too early for him. If he gets injured, we will be blamed. So we will wait for a while’. I said you keep him in the 15-member squad so that he is around the team and can learn the atmosphere of the team’,” he recalled.
Vengsarkar added that Tendulkar started seizing opportunities as and when they came his way and he made it to the Indian team by the next year. “In the Duleep Trophy, he got a hundred. In the Irani Trophy, he got a hundred. Then we went to Pakistan in 1989, and there came Sachin Tendulkar, and the rest is history,” he said.
Tendulkar would go on to be widely recognised as the greatest batsman since Don Bradman. He retired from the international game as the highest run-scorer of all time and the only batsman to score more than 30,000 international runs and 100 centuries.