Sachin Tendulkar was known to have a dignified presence on the pitch, but didn’t stop short of dipping into his bagful of pranks off it, an instance of which was recently narrated by his former India teammate Hemang Badani on an Instagram show.
Speaking on #StoriesWithHemangBadani, Badani looked back at the time Tendulkar targeted fast bowler Javagal Srinath with one of his pranks, just before India’s ODI game against England at Cuttack in 2002.
Despite being at the far end of his established career, Srinath was uncharacteristically edgy on the eve of the game, prompting Tendulkar to come up with an ingenious plan.
“For some strange reason at Cuttack, he [Srinath] was extremely nervous, extremely wobbly, which he normally isn’t,” Badani said, recalling Srinath’s last ODI series at home. “Java [Srinath] is extremely vocal and very confident in his normal self, but for some strange reason, he was a little nervous that day.
“And, I wasn’t playing that game. So, what Sachin asked me to do that game was – Srinath, obviously being a 6′2, 6’3 [tall], had really long pants, and Sachin, being about 5’5, 5’6 had shorter pants.
“To just try and lighten the mood and to make sure that Srinath got back to normalcy, during practice before the game, when the match hadn’t started yet, he asked me to switch trousers. He said, ‘Take my trousers, put them in Srinath’s bag, and pull out his trousers and keep it away wherever you can, be it in your bag, be it in my bag. Just take it away.'”
“Srinath being Srinath, doesn’t even care. He finishes his practice, gets back to the dressing room, puts his trousers on, gets on the field, bowls the first ball, and there are people laughing on the field. The Indian side is laughing on the field, and little does he realise what’s happened.
Srinath ended with 315 wickets in ODIs. The next best, Ajit Agarkar, had 288 scalps.
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) May 21, 2020
“Then someone points at his trousers and said, ‘Sri, look at your trousers, they’re so short!’ That’s when he realises that something is on, and something is wrong.”
Badani may have put Tendulkar’s plan into action, but remained coy even when he was quizzed by Srinath later.
“Actually, what has happened after that is, because of this banter and lighter moment, he gets back to being normal and bowls a brilliant spell,”Badani continued.
“But he had to come off the field after the first over, he changed his trousers, he asked me, ‘What the hell is happening, kisne kia [who did it]’ and all that. I said I have no clue. I innocently put my hands up and said, ‘I don’t know, Sri, what you’re talking about. I don’t know what’s happening!’
“And [he] eventually changed his trousers, went back in, and he bowled a brilliant spell.”