At 1 a.m. on December 17, 1989, a family in the farming town of Thodupuzha in central Kerala welcomed the birth of their child. The jubilant father, PC Baby, spent the rest of the day offering prayers at the church.
A day later, in the Pakistani town of Gujranwala, a 16-year-old made his ODI debut for India—a month after becoming the youngest Indian Test player. Sachin Tendulkar faced only two balls and was dismissed by Waqar Younis for a duck, but he left a lasting impression on PC Baby.
Despite being brought up on football, the LIC consultant decided to name his first-born son after Sachin Tendulkar. “We never imagined how big Tendulkar was going to be. But there was something very impressive about him. I wanted my son to grow up to be like him,” says Baby.
Almost 20 years later, on November 3, 2009, Sachin Baby made his first-class debut for Kerala against Andhra Pradesh. Though the youngster, a left-handed middle-order batsman, has a long way to go before he fulfils his father’s wishes, he has at least taken the first step.
Not every ‘Sachin’ born after 1989 has turned to cricket. But like Baby, a few of them are making a mark in the game. Despite sharing their birthday with Sourav Ganguly (July 8), Chennai’s 16-year-old Baba twins, Aprajit and Indrajit — part of the under-19 Tamil Nadu squad — are better known as Sachin and Sunny. Their cricket-besotted father, however, insists that Aprajit’s batting style is more like Rahul Dravid’s.
In Mumbai, BMC sweeper Madhuhar Yadav, a devoted cricket fan, named his first son Sachin. Now 15, left-handed batsman Sachin Yadav is part of the Mumbai under-16 team. He says his father still insists that he mirrors Tendulkar’s batting style.
“I was interested in cricket from a young age, but it was only later that I realised I was named after Tendulkar,” says Sachin Baby, seen as the state’s next big hope after Sreesanth. He has captained the under-13 and under-15 sides, and was vice-captain of the under-17 squad before breaking into the senior team this season.
Though he is yet to meet Tendulkar, Baby says he has heard a lot about him from state captain Sreesanth. “I also meditate in the dressing-room before coming out to bat, just like Tendulkar,” says Baby, who bats at No. 3 for Kerala.
While Sachin Baby’s dream is to meet the man he is named after, it is his father’s dream that his son follows in his idol’s footsteps. “Twenty years from now, I hope my Sachin too is spoken about in the way that Sachin Tendulkar is,” he says.