Dubai: When Sachin Tendulkar bats, the whole of India comes to a standstill. And when the batting maestro celebrated his 40th birthday on Wednesday, the whole nation celebrated it.
From the common man to Bollywood stars, everyone was wishing the legend a happy birthday; but Tendulkar was where he loves to be… on the cricket field… playing for Mumbai Indians against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Kolkata, known as the City of Joy, rejoiced at having Tendulkar in their city to play in the Indian Premier League match on his special day. Though fans had thronged the stadium to support the Knights, they were united in sharing their joy with their biggest cricketing hero.
Nearly 60,000 waited lined up outside the Eden Gardens, most of them holding placards wishing Tendulkar a happy birthday. Most workplaces in Kolkata recorded a poor turnout with many taking the day off to queue up for a ticket at the Eden Gardens wanting to watch the birthday boy in action.
Young and old queued up for tickets from early hours and a sun burnt fan was seen on a television channel saying: “Sachin is my hero. I just have to see him on his birthday.”
Interestingly, many fans have come in not only from the neighbouring states but also flown in from far off places like Tamil Nadu, a few from Mumbai and New Delhi. Another fan was seen commenting: “Tendulkar is someone who makes every Indian proud, and on his birthday it will be a great feeling to see him in flesh and be as close to him as possible.”
When Tendulkar celebrated his 18th birthday in Mumbai, Rajsingh Dungarpur, the late president of the Cricket Club of India, had invited the media, and I was among the lucky few to watch him cut a cake at the Brabourne Cricket Stadium. On that day, Dungarpur wished young Tendulkar all success to enthrall fans for many decades with his batting exploits.
Though many critics now scream for his retirement, amidst those who celebrated his birthday were fans who want him to continue playing beyond 50.
Social media networks are flooded with wishes for Tendulkar. Most of his colleagues have tweeted their wishes to him. His schoolmate Vinod Kambli, with whom he caught headlines through a world record partnership in schools cricket, tweeted: “Wishing master blaster tendlya, A very happy birthday, 40 becoming naughty. God bless him n may he have a long n healthy life. Enjoy ur day.”
The Cricket Association of Bengal had a giant 40-pound chocolate cake made from special cocoa from Ghana and Madagascar. Preparation for the cake is said to have commenced from 5am and took six hours to bake to be ready before the evening match.