Sachin Tendulkar, a New Hero For a New India

The cricket legend’s talents are beyond question. But what if his superstardom has to do with more than skill?

GettyImages-1212866905 Sachin Tendulkar
Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar is carried on his teammates shoulders after India defeated Sri Lanka in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 final played at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, 2011. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Ayesha Le Breton


April 24, 2024


13 min

On February 19, 1999, India’s cricket team stepped onto Calcutta’s Eden Gardens with Sachin Tendulkar at the helm. They were facing Pakistan in the inaugural game of the Asian Test Championship, and 65,000 fans awaited the famed match-up. But the stadium soon descended into chaos. Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar collided with Tendulkar as he attempted a run. Unable to reach the other end, Tendulkar was out. People pelted Akhtar with bottles and chanted, “Cheat!” Security evacuated the stadium to prevent a riot.

“Tendulkar had to go out and appeal for calm,” said Osman Samiuddin, senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. “When they didn’t calm down, they decided to play the match without the crowd.” 

In India’s sporting history, only Tendulkar, the “God of Cricket,” could elicit such a reaction. India already had cricket legends like Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, but their stardom paled in comparison to Tendulkar’s. Only part of that had to do with Tendulkar’s talent. 

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