New Delhi: As Sachin Tendulkar celebrated his 39th birthday on Tuesday, Yuvraj Singh paid tribute to the Master Blaster, saying he was like an elder brother, a friend, a philosopher and a guide to him.
In his column in the Dubai-based daily Gulf News, Yuvraj has wished Sachin a happy birthday and "all the happiness and health in life." He writes: "Paji, as I and many other fondly call him, has been the pillar of strength for me all through my life. His birthday is a very special day for every Indian cricket fan. This is the day we all can thank this great man for his massive contribution to Indian cricket."
Yuvraj recounts that when he was plagued by self-doubt and injuries a year before the World Cup of 2011, Sachin Tendulkar made him believe that he would perform when it mattered. Yuvraj Singh went from strength to strength in the tournament and was named the man of the series. He dedicates the trophy to Sachin.
After that stellar World Cup moment Yuvraj Singh was diagnosed with a rare germ cell cancer and had to go for treatment to the US. Yuvraj says while he was in Boston, Tendulkar remained in constant touch with him and motivated him. "All through my treatment, he was regularly in touch with me, keeping me motivated and pepped up. And he didn't miss the first opportunity to meet me in London. That hug he gave me in London was special and I owe a lot to this man. As always, I keep saying that even if I achieve 25 per cent of what this Master has achieved, on and off the field, I would have done justice to myself."
And he rues missing the opportunity to celebrate Sachin's hundredth international hundred. "While I was away for cancer treatment, one of my biggest regrets was that I couldn't celebrate his hundredth hundred with him. I missed giving him a cake cream facial massage. Harbhajan, Zaheer and I are specialists in this," he writes.
Sachin, who has over 33000 international runs in 188 Tests and 463 ODIs, simply has all the batting records. Not easy to get there says Yuvraj, who has played alongside the master for many years. "You can't even dream of getting there, it is so unbelievable. And I think the next would be when he plays two hundred Test matches. You are a legend if you have played 100 Test matches, and if someone plays 200, I don't know what you will call him. So we may have to figure out a new word to describe his contribution," he adds.
The paean to Sachin talks about the young teen who would one day be the great Sachin Tendulkar. "At sixteen when one's teenage starts and one starts exploring the world in one's own way, this boy was carrying the burden of a nation's expectations on his tender shoulders. At the age when we are allowed to be carefree, he had to very careful about his wicket and life," says Yuvraj. And he appreciates the burden of those many expectations and which Yurvraj says, "has never lifted since then. In fact with each passing day it has piled up. He kept scoring runs all across the world, kept scoring hundreds, kept conquering all the conditions in the world and setting up new landmarks. It reached a point where he achieved all what one can with a bat in one's hand," he adds.
Sachin, who is currently in Chandigarh for an IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab today, celebrated turning 39 quietly with his wife Anjali and his teammates; wishes poured in from all over the country and world.
Sachin thanked his fans for their wishes on Twitter. "Thank you everyone for your warm birthday wishes. Really appreciate it :-)," he tweeted.