Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar's much-awaited autobiography 'Playing It My Way' was today launched in the presence of some of his former teammates, celebrities and family members at an engrossing ceremony here.
The book, the first copy of which he gave to his mother Rajni earlier in the day, was unveiled by Tendulkar himself amid thundering applause by the gathering. At the launch, Tendulkar presented a copy to his mentor and childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar in the presence of his daughter Sara.
"I would like to present the first copy after launch to somebody very special in my life, Tendulkar said before handing over a copy of the book to a wheelchair-bound Achrekar.
Before the launch of the book, cricket analyst and host for the evening Harsha Bhogle had three panel discussion sessions with Tendulkar's former teammates and family, who significantly feature in the book.
The first panel discussion was attended by former India captains Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and former Mumbai cricketer Vasu Paranjape, who played a crucial role in shaping Tendulkar's career.
Gavaskar remembered how he met Tendulkar for the first time and was impressed by his talent at the first look. "Hemant Waingankar and Anil Joshi introduced me to Sachin and asked me to see him bat. Probably, I have finished my cricket at that stage. He was batting at the Wankhede nets against Raju Kulkarni, who was a very slippery customer. In the nets you don't really think about no balls and Raju was doing the same. But the manner in which Sachin was punching the ball off the backfoot towards mid-off and mid-on that impressed me," Gavaskar recollected.
Asked what if he would got the chance to bat alongside Tendulkar, Gavaskar said: "I think as far as running between the wicket we would have been very good."
Former Mumbai and Indian skipper Vengsarkar said he handpicked Tendulkar to play for the team after watching him easily negotiating India's best fast bowler at the time, Kapil Dev, in the Wankhede Stadium nets, where the Indian team had come to play against the touring New Zealand team.
"I was the captain (of Mumbai) that time and I heard a lot about him. Vasu (Paranjape) brought him and introduced him to me. Vasu said you should go and watch Sachin play. I said not now but Vasu said no no you should go," Vengsarkar said.
"I was playing my 100th Test and we were practicing at the CCI. I asked Kapil, Maninder to bowl at him and at such a tender age he played them with ease. Then I told (Mumbai) selectors we should pick him at least in the 15 but in the next three days he didn't come for practice. I was a bit livid with him. I told Vasu to ask him the reason and he said I had an exam."
Shastri, who watched Tendulkar from close quarters during the master batsman's classic 148 not out at Sydney in 1992, said according to him that innings was the best of his career. "In the tour of Pakistan in 1989, Sachin made his debut but got out early. I was lying down in the dressing room and was livid with my dismissal. He took his time and walked upto me after an hour. By the time I calmed down and and he said to me 'I was in a hurry'.
"(During that innings) the time he was at the crease he looked like a fish out of water, but a month later he looked a big shark in the water and continued to be so for the next 25 years," he said.
Talking about Tendulkar's epic 148 not out in Sydney Cricket Groud, his first and one of the best on the Australian soil, Shastri, who was batting along side the master blaster said: "I was just 22 yards away and it was the best place to witness such a wonderful innings. I was witnessing someone just 18 was over to become the first overseas player to score a 100 in Australia. Tendulkar's Sydney innings was strokeplay of the highest order."