Forget for a moment the hundreds he has scored, ignore the thousands of runs against his name in various formats, disregard the length of his extraordinary career. More than these achievements, two things stand out about Sachin Tendulkar. One: Despite his long cricket journey, he is neither tired or drained, his enthusiasm for cricket has not diminished. Two: He stays grounded and disarmingly humble even when there is so much to be immodest about.
Fans treat him as a cricket God, for players across the world he is a wonderful role model, an inspirational figure who symbolises consistent excellence. For everyone else he is democratic India's uncrowned royalty.
Sitting in his hotel room ahead of the IPL game later that afternoon, Sachin didn't seem to notice the chocolates and flowers, the fruit basket or the bottle of South African wine in the table. At every hotel, Sachin is a VIP guest, upgraded into the best suite located on its Presidential floor.
Yet, for all these outward trappings of celebrity, there is a remarkable sense of dignity and composure about Sachin. He went about his business like anyone else, doing this and that, texting on the phone, answering calls, organising his gear for the match.
I don't have a set routine pre-match routine, he says. Now I go more by my instinct. Test match preparation is more detailed but IPL is different because of the odd hours of play and the late night finishes which disturb the body clock . The constant travel tires you more than anything else.
Post IPL Sachin will head for London to spend quality time with family and, being a staunch tennis fan, is looking forward to Wimbledon . Plans after that are more fluid, the next major cricket commitment is the tour to South Africa .
Sachin first went there as a youngster in 1992, and became the first 'victim' of television technology, adjudged run out at Durban by the third umpire after Jonty Rhodes hit the stumps with a direct throw.
Not one member of that Indian team is still playing actively. Captain Azharuddin is a fellow MP, two colleagues (Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri) are media experts and a third (Anil Kumble) is his mentor at MI.
Sachin at 40 has outrun them by more than a mile!