First Class

India Today - - MAIL - by M. Rah­man

It is a record many bats­men would be proud of a to­tal of— 423 runs scored in five Ranji Tro­phy matches at an av­er­age of 70.5. What makes the sta­tis­tics ex­tra­or­di­nary, though, is that the bats­man in ques­tion is a 15- year- old school­boy in his first sea­son in first­class cricket. No won­der then that though young Bom­bay bats­man, Sachin Ten­dulkar, had played cricket only at the school level till last year, his pre­co­cious bat­ting tal­ent fu­elled con­sid­er­able spec­u­la­tion on whether he would be in­cluded in the In­dian squad for the forth­com­ing tour of the West Indies. As it hap­pened, it was felt he was too young, to be ex­posed to the rigours of a Caribbean tour. Vet­er­ans are nearly unan­i­mous that Sachin will soon be sport­ing the In­dia blazer. " At his age Sachin demon­strates tremen­dous crick­et­ing IQ. It is God's gift. He plays 10 years be­yond his age," says Milind Rege, Bom­bay se­lec­tor and for­mer Ranji Tro­phy player. Sachin be­gan play­ing cricket when he was just 11, at the Shivaji Park in cen­tral Bom­bay, coached by Ra­makant Achrekar. It was in April last year that he hit the head­lines part­ner­ing his Shardaahram Vidya­mandir school­mate to es­tab­lish an un­beaten 664- run part­ner­ship.


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