Hyderabad: Sachin Tendulkar's 38th birthday will be etched in memory forever. Probably, the greatest moment of the day came when Tendulkar's son Arjun walked past the boundary rope and gave his father a big hug. After that, the little master looked at the crowd and waved. But even in that gesture, there was some evident sadness.
When Ravi Shastri asked him at the presentation ceremony if he was going to enjoy the five-day break between matches, an exhausted Tendulkar, who was desperately trying to smile, said: "If you ask me as a 38-year old, I am happy to have breaks, maybe not a 19-year old." That remark summed up his frame of mind.
Later in the day, when Tendulkar stepped out of the player enclosure, he didn't find any media presence, but found hundreds of fans who had powered their way past cops. One fan dived towards Tendulkar to touch his feet. Just then, a police officer caught hold of the fan and threatened to hit him. At that moment, Tendulkar looked like a defeated man. He tried to smile for some fans that shot a photograph with him, but to no luck.
When MiD DAY visited the team hotel on the morning of the game, Tendulkar's room had a big placard outside which read 'Do Not Disturb' in block letters. There was some doubt on the eve of the match if Tendulkar would play the game, but he left for the ground along with the rest of his teammates at 14:00 hrs.
The hotel staff said that Tendulkar was not spotted anywhere in the hotel on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. It is learnt that none of Tendulkar's teammates planned anything special for him due to the death of Sathya Sai Baba. Even Hyderabad CA officials, who were queuing up to invite Tendulkar to a cake-cutting ceremony, hesitated to approach the Mumbai skipper.