Sachin Tendulkar knew something was wrong when he heard a click in his foot. Yet, he scored an unbeaten 122 and was adjudged man of the match.
Those were the days when no media releases were emailed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Not that the establishment sent out a detailed release on Tendulkar's injury yesterday, but information of his fracture on the sesamoid bone of his right big toe back then was next to zilch.
And since this injury was the biggest in the eyes of the media after his back trouble in 1999, there was plenty written about it before and after Tendulkar invited the media to his Bandra (West) residence to brief them. To those who know private Tendulkar, this invitation was extraordinarily unusual.
To see cameramen and writers grabbing the best possible viewing area in Tendulkar's living room was an unforgettable sight. And he didn't cover his toes. He was explicit in his replies and played perfect team man when he said, "I'm pretty confident they will perform well (in Sri Lanka).Â I keep sending them messages," he said, two days before India played their first game of the ODI series in the Emerald Isles. Less than a month later, newcomer Virender Sehwag got a message after his hundred against New Zealand in Colombo. It said:Â "Great innings... congratulations. Hope you play another one in the final."
Back to Tendulkar's press conference. The media went back happy, but that was not the last the public heard about the toe injury. Reams of newsprint were used up either in reportage or analysis.
A poll was conducted on whether Tendulkar should play the Test series in Sri Lanka and 72 per cent of voters felt he shouldn't go. MiD DAY also looked at the humourous side and listed a 15-point advisory to Tendulkar on how he should deal with his toe injury. It read:
1. Say no to shoe commercials
2. Don't tap your feet to Pink Floyd's new video, Just Another Toe on the Wall.'
3. Don't get your leg pulled
4. Avoid pedicure
5. Apply nail polish so that the toe looks better
6. Avoid putting your foot in the mouth
7. Don't toe the Board's line of excessive cricket
8. Watch S Ramesh's footwork for inspiration (the opener had poor footwork)
9. Watch Toe Toe Main Main regularly
10. Also Toe-tal Recall
11. Do the leg glance
12. Touch your toes everyday
13. Read 'Hamlet' in your spare time; Toe Be or Not Toe Be
14. Put your foot down if asked about the captaincy
15. Remember, toe and steady wins the race.
Dr Anant Joshi, who supervised the treatment, said this was a very uncommon injury that afflicts ballet dancers.
In an interview (August 12, 2001) during that period, Dr Joshi revealed that Tendulkar told him: "As long as I have no fear of a reoccurrence and I am able to give my 100 per cent, little pain is no problem."
Mediapersons were aware of Tendulkar's bone scan to be done at the Hinduja Hospital was scheduled for August 9. But they were surprised to learn the following day that the scan was done as late as 10:30 pm, a time which they never expected. The scan ruled out any possibility of joining his mates for the Test series in Sri Lanka.
Tendulkar instead travelled to Johannesburg for Orthotics (Meaning: Foot supports usually custom designated that fit in a shoe to make foot motion more efficient, reduce the risk of foot injury). Surgery was always the last option, but Tendulkar didn't need it for this particular injury.
By October 2001, he was back in India colours, His comeback was personally successful - a hundred in his first one-dayer and Test of the South Africa tour, only to prove that his cricketing hunger is never a bone of contention.
(Photo: Suresh KK for Mid-Day)