Hyderabad: Iconic Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar turned 38 on Sunday with the historic World Cup triumph being the most memorable high of a successful year for the veteran batsman.
But the big day is expected to be devoid of any major celebrations because of the death of Shri Sathya Sai Baba, of whom Tendulkar is a devotee.
Asking his fans to pray for the well being of Sai Baba, Tendulkar had yesterday tweeted, "I m praying for Shri Sathya Sai Baba`s quick recovery. Hope everyone will join me in praying for his return to good health."
But with the spiritual guru succumbing to multiple organ failure this morning, Tendulkar may not celebrate his birthday at all.
The 86-year-old Sai Baba had been undergoing treatment for multi-organ dysfunction since March 28.
Tendulkar, who sits on such a huge pile of runs and records which any contemporary batsman would find nearly impossible to exceed, is not known to be flamboyant in his celebrations.
If he is not busy on the field, an intensely private Tendulkar prefers to blow the candles just in the company of his two kids, wife Anjali and other family members.
In fact, the Mumbaikar got his biggest gift weeks before the special day.
The trophy might have been lifted first by Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the finals on April 2 but much before India won it, the members of the World Cup squad were falling over each other to dedicate it to Tendulkar, who was making his sixth and perhaps the final appearance in the mega-event.
Tendulkar had played five World Cups before this edition but had never been a part of the winning squad. His dream was finally fulfilled this time and even for a man who is known to be discreet in expressing emotions, the tears were all too visible when his teammates carried him on their shoulders for a lap of honour. Just a couple of days before his birthday this year, Tendulkar interacted with wheel-chair bound soldiers in Pune via a video conference as IPL commitments could not allow him the time to meet them in person.
"Respectful greetings, my dear soldier brethren; I have learned to take up responsibility and fight till the end from you people," the batting maestro, who is an honorary Air Force Group captain, told the soldiers during his interaction from Mumbai.
The 80-odd soldiers are undergoing rehabilitation at the paraplegic centre in Pune`s Khadki cantonment area and are wheel-chair bound. Some of them are paralysed neck-down and some others waist-down.
The lot wanted to meet the icon cricketer personally, but that wasn`t possible immediately as Tendulkar was busy leading Mumbai Indians in the fourth edition of IPL.
In fact, the legend wouldn`t be at home today as he will be here for MI`s match against Deccan Chargers.
Via the video conference, Tendulkar also cut a birthday cake and symbolically exchanged bouquets with the members of the country`s Armed Forces.
Just one short of completing his 100th century in international cricket, records are fairly routine for Tendulkar but for the cricketing fraternity every run he scores just adds to the legend that the right-hander has become.
A staggering 14,692 runs scored in 177 Tests before the ongoing one at a robust average of 56.94 confirmed Tendulkar`s greatness in the longer version of the game.
And in the 453 ODIs he played, a whopping 18,111 were added to his mountain of runs at an average of 45.16.