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'Sachin Tendulkar was born to play cricket'

'Sachin Tendulkar was born to play cricket'

"The manner in which he countered the yorkers bowled by Ambrose, Waqar and Akram in subsequent years, I think no batsman ever has. He behaved like an adult even in his teens," Prabhakar said.

It was beginning of a new era when the 16-year-old, curly haired Mumbaikar made his international debut against Imran Khan-led Pakistan in 1989.

He was Sachin Tendulkar, who was ready to stamp his authority over the cricketing world.

Now, after 24 years, with a record 100 centuries under his name, Tendulkar is ready to call it a day ater the Test series against West Indies this month, which is also be his career's 200th Test match

The master blaster slammed his maiden century against England in their own backyard- The Old Trafford, scoring an unbeaten 119 off 189 balls that included 17 boundaries.

Reminiscing the day, former India cricketer Manoj Prabhakar speaking to DNA shared his experience of sharing the crease with Tendulkar at that historic moment. Prabhakar and Sachin shared 160 runs for the seventh wicket.

Chasing a mammoth 408-run target, India were in a serious trouble at 183 for 6. That's when Manoj Prabhakar walked in to join Sachin Tendulkar and helped India draw the Test.

"There were no specific instructions from the dressing room," Prabhakar recalls. The seniors were cursing themselves for not having spent more time at the crease. "I had only one thing on my mind: partnership. But I knew I had to tell the 17-year-old boy to curb his shots as the ball was swinging all over the place," adds the allrounder who scored an unbeaten 67 (128 balls, 8x4) as India forced a draw. Tendulkar, of course, scored his maiden Test hundred, a sparkling undefeated 119 (189 balls, 17x4) as India finished with the scoreboard reading 343 for 6.

"The moment England decided to take the second new ball, I went up to Sachin and cautioned him. I advised to be a little careful against Angus Fraser. But when he dispatched the very second ball to the boundary, I just decided to let him play his own game and enjoy his batting," Prabhakar said.

Tendulkar's match-saving knock came against a formidable England bowling attack comprising Fraser, Devon Malcolm, Eddie Hemmings and Chris Lewis.

"It was his first hundred, but I knew it was the first of many," Prabhakar added.

"He just played his own game throughout his career. To me, he never looked under any kind of pressure on any surface or on any occasion. I can't forget that match in Sharjah where Sachin was hit on the head by a Wasim Akram delivery. But the very next ball, he smashed Akram out of the park. The Pakistani great had barely completed his follow through. That is classic Sachin. He has always countered his opponents with his bat. No talking for him," Prabhakar said.

So when did he realise that Tendulkar was born to play cricket? "It was during a Ranji Trophy game between Delhi and Bombay that I first saw him. Maninder Singh, the best left-arm spinner of the time, was unplayable then. But here was a kid who decided to step out of the crease and loft Maninder for a six. We were shocked. Hitting Maninder out of ground during his heyday was no child's play. Only someone blessed with the technique of, say, a Sunil Gavaskar could do that," Prabhakar said