Often labelled as the most complete batsman of his time, the most prolific run-scorer of all time and undeniably the biggest cricket icon the game has ever known – Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is the embodiment of the collective pride of India.
With his masterful batting and calm demeanour, Tendulkar carried the hopes of a billion fans every time he walked out to the pitch with his iconic ‘MRF willow’. From his heyday right up to the present, the surname Tendulkar will always be associated with the greatest batsman ever to represent India.
However, that is about to change. Not because the Little Master has lost his fan-following or his records are being broken by new-age stars. It’s because of the rapid rise of another Tendulkar – a southpaw who’s not only a handful with the bat, but also a rampaging fast bowler.
Ever since proving his mettle in Mumbai’s famed Inter-schools Harris Shield, Tendulkar’s son Arjun has been the subject of immense criticism and scrutiny with the media keeping a close watch on the youngster. As noticed in other cases, talent cannot bloom naturally like other kids without the burden of a famous surname.
Whether he’s on the field or off it, Arjun has already been the victim of high and unfair expectations. Neither those who expect another Sachin Tendulkar in Arjun, nor those venting their anger at him because they couldn’t at his father, will do any good. But, Arjun has not allowed those things affect him or his game – a trait he picked up from his father.
In fact, the 18-year-old seems to be thriving under the weight of expectations and clearly living up to his father’s reputation. After impressing in the domestic circuit, Arjun seems to have elevated his game to make a mark overseas.
Featuring in the Spirit Of Cricket Global Challenge – a T20 competition organised by the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Mumbai southpaw produced an eye-catching all-round performance at the event. During the T20 clash between the Cricket Club of India and the Hong Kong Cricket Club, Arjun smashed a 27-ball 48 as an opener and then went on to claim four scalps in as many overs.
“I’m just so privileged to play on the ground named after Bradman, it’s unbelievable,” Arjun was quoted by the ABC website. On carrying the weight of expectations, the young star said: “I don’t take that pressure, when I bowl I just hit the deck hard on every ball and when I bat, I just play my shots and choose which bowlers to take on and which bowlers not to”.
In a country of a billion people who literally worship his father, Arjun, surprisingly, named Mitchell Starc and Ben Stokes as his role models. “I just got stronger, grew taller and I loved bowling fast from my childhood. I thought I may as well be a quick bowler because there aren’t many in India,” he said.
While the Australians got a taste of the next-generation Tendulkar for the first time, Arjun, oozing with talent, has made quite a reputation in India. Last year, during New Zealand’s tour of India, Arjun was roped in by the home side as one of the net bowlers to help the likes of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane prepare for Trent Boult’s pace challenge.
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) July 22, 2017
He was also seen helping the Indian women’s cricket team in the nets before their ICC Women’s World Cup final against England at the iconic Lord’s in 2017. Bowling to Jonny Bairstow ahead of England’s first Test against South Africa in July last year, Arjun’s fiery yorker sent the Englishmen limping out of the nets after playing just one delivery from the youngster.
While cricket has seen quite a few sons falling quickly by the wayside because the pressure of expectations of having to play a game with a famous surname in which the father had excelled, it’s great to see Arjun determined to forge his own path as a cricketer and not rely on his popular family name.