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.
SACHIN TENDULKAR: GREATTALENT