Colour leaves his life

In both the photographs and the videos on Youtube, the frame is hazy. On one end of the pitch, a bunch of grainy players, all wearing green jerseys and yellow pyjamas, lie low. At the end closer to the camera, a batsman squats. The subjects are largely unrecognisable. But thanks to the solitary figure's colours, no fan who put up with the 90s will fail to pinpoint the significance of the moment. Or its relevance in defining Sachin Tendulkar.

Light blue top, navy blue bottom. Sharjah, 1998 and a sand storm. A crisis, a century and a loss. India, both country and cricket team, came to terms with its dependency on one man. "We lost the match, but it feels like a win," Mohd Azharuddin would say. It would hold true right through his quest to define 50-over cricket.

That definition was born in the 90s, with Tendulkar's blue standing out from the pile as he single-handedly battled the forces from fiery oppositions to a non-performing set of team-mates to nature's wrath. By the end of the century, India would never shift out of this colour-spectrum ever again, right until the time he walked back to the dressing room for the last time in March this year. But this journey that outlasted time was a colourful one literally and figuratively.

In the blue he built a team, brands and cola jingles. But before that, with the rest of the colours on the rainbow scale, Tendulkar first painted the portrait of a soon-to-be cricketing deity.

When he first appeared as a 16-year old in a buttoned white shirt at Gujranwala, one-day cricket wasn't quite what it is now. Yes, Packer had ushered colour into the game. But apart from an odd World Series, it was yet to catch a fire. It did for many Indians, when Tendulkar wore the flaming yellow kit and became an India opener for the very first time.

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