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     I had never batted in the nets before and felt somewhat overawed with so many people around. When I was asked to bat, I was not at all comfortable. With Sir watching me so closely, I failed to make an impact. Sir called Ajit aside and informed him that I was perhaps too young to make the camp and suggested that he should bring me back when I was a little older. My induction into the Mumbai cricket circuit could have ended in failure – but for Ajit’s insistence. Having seen me play in the colony, Ajit knew I was capable of performing far better than I had done in front of Achrekar Sir. He explained that I was nervous and asked Sir to give me one more opportunity. However, he suggested that while doing so, Sir should pretend to go away and then watch from a distance. Sir agreed. Before long, I was asked to bat again and, without Sir’s trained eyes scrutinizing me – or so I thought, I felt more at ease and soon started to hit the ball well. This time, Sir agreed to let me join the camp. I was delighted and I must say it was an opportunity that transformed my life.
Sachin, like any other boy of his age, played in the colony with his friends without any seriousness. There are a million boys like that playing in the country. But it takes a person with keen observing skills to understand and recognise one's talents and boost them. Ajit, Sachin's elder brother, was one such person who was the starting point of his success. He took him to the right place that would help him work on the talent that he possessed. But Sachin was only eleven years old, and he had only played the game in an unprofessional and fun-filled way. He was not used to practising cricket professionally or seriously.
When he saw the nets that were put up for practising cricket in the camp, he was taken aback as it was all new to him. He was just a child, and the entire experience was overwhelming to him. It is easier to play without any expectations and when people are not keenly observing from all angles. The nets are put up in the field when one practices or competes, as it stops the ball from travelling across the field when the batsman hits hard. It also saves the time and energy needed from fielders or wicket keepers. But Sachin had never witnessed such things and did not know how to play in the nets, nor was he comfortable with people watching him closely, and hence did not perform well due to all this nervousness. Achrekar sir, who had only seen Sachin play for the first time, thought it was due to lack of talent, as it was pretty uncommon for boys of that age to perform well. He took Ajit aside and expressed his concern regarding the same. But Ajit being a family member, had seen Sachin's talents for himself and even understood that he was performing badly due to all the external disturbances.
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Cricket net practice
Ajit understood that people scrutinising Sachin would only make the little boy more nervous. When one is not subjected to pressure and expectations, they tend to play more carefreely. Ajit advised Achrekar sir to act as if he is not watching Sachin but to observe the game from a distance. This would ease Sachin's mind, who would exhibit his normal self and feel safe and at the same time lead to Achrekar sir witnessing his skills. True to Ajit's words, Sachin started batting really well, which made Achrekar sir to select him to his camp. This proved as one of the life changing events in Sachin's life as this was where his cricket journey started off.
Words with difficult meaning:
OverawedImpress highly that makes one silent
ImpactThe effect created by an action
OverwhelmingToo much information making one emotional
ScrutiniseTo look or inspect closely
InductionThe process of accepting someone into a new role
InsistenceTo demand something
State Council of Educational Research and Training 2019. Term 1 English Standard - 9. Learning the Game - Sachin Tendulkar (pp. 1 -17). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.