Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar's genius made way for another evening of celebrations as the cricketing fraternity got together to honour him with the Castrol Indian Cricketer of the Year award.
A suburban five-star hotel in Mumbai got decked up on Friday evening as Tendulkar, accompanied by wife Anjali, made a dash to the event that began with the highlights of the year 2009 - when India achieved the status of the World's No. 1 Test team.
"When we reached the No. 1 rank, there were those who thought we'd lose the crown after 30 or 40 days. It's more than a year now and we're still at the top and that's been a great effort on part of the whole team," he said.
While he spoke, teammates Rahul Dravid - special award for 200 Test catches and Virender Sehwag - pocketing the Batsman of the Year award, watched from the audience. Memories of the 2008 Test series win over Australia, the 2009 series wins over England, New Zealand and South Africa and the rising phenomenon of cricket's new world order in the game's oldest format - the recordings of which were shown on giant screens - made the evening.
Tendulkar, the Cricketer of the Year, also walked away with the Test Cricketer of the Year award - an honour that highlighted his extraordinary contribution to the game in the last three years.
He spoke of injuries, the comeback, coach Gary Kirsten's contribution, what it felt like to achieve 50 Test centuries and left the stage with a promise of a 16-year-old that there is still a lot more of Sachin coming our way. "It is the only thing I've known in my life (cricket). So, it feels great to have achieved whatever I have through the game," he said, the humility in his tone intact.
He received a special award for his 50th Test hundred - a record of such magnitude that it still continues to leave the cricketing world spellbound.
Sachin gave a lot of credit to India coach Gary Kirsten for India's batting in the last couple of years even as he spelt out a lot of other names who had contributed at various stages of his career.
India captain MS Dhoni and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh - both couldn't make it to the event - walked away with the ODI Cricketer of the Year award and Bowler of the Year award respectively. Young India bowler Jaidev Unadkat, meanwhile, took home the Junior Cricketer of the Year award, received on his behalf by his father.
Lifetime Award for Amarnath
Former India all-rounder and man-of-the-match in the 1983 World Cup semifinal and final, Mohinder Amarnath, was felicitated with the Castrol Lifetime Achievement award.
Amarnath received the award at the hands of former teammate Sunil Gavaskar and both the former greats spent their share of time on the stage reminiscing their years in the '60s, '70s and '80s during which they played with and against each other in school tournaments, first-class cricket and finally the Indian team.
Amarnath remembered his father, Lala Amarnath, and his tutoring that helped instill in him the cricketing discipline. "Whatever I achieved as a cricketer is because of him," he said.
Later, both Gavaskar and Amarnath felt that the present Indian team is one of the best ever and had all the chances to bring the 2011 World Cup home.
Other award winners