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Ramakant Achrekar takes a pit stop at Shivaji Park in his final journey

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Ramakant Achrekar takes a pit stop at Shivaji Park in his final journey

Ramakant Achrekar died due to old-age related ailments aged 86 in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Sachin Tendulkar took part in the procession to the crematorium in Mumbai (PTI Photo)

Sachin Tendulkar took part in the procession to the crematorium in Mumbai (PTI Photo)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ramakant Achrekar’s body was kept at Shivaji Park where he coached aspiring cricketers in the past
  • Along with Sachin Tendulkar, Achrekar’s other wards, including Vinod Kambli, took part in the procession
  • Ramakant Achrekar died aged 86 in Mumbai on Wednesday

When Sachin Tendulkar’s father passed away in 1999, there were only 50 near and dear ones in attendance for the funeral. Sachin was already a superstar, a decade in international cricket but that’s the way he wanted things to be. “He had told me I want it to be the last rites of Dr Ramesh Tendulkar, not Sachin Tendulkar’s father,” an old BCCI functionary, Ratnakar Shetty recalled.

Tendulkar had then famously come back in the middle of the World Cup for his father’s passing away rituals, returned for duty in England, scored a century against Kenya and dedicated it to his father.

If Sachin had learnt the off field values from his father, guru Ramakant Achrekar who died on Wednesday, can be credited for Sachin’s discipline to his sport.

Sachin was present throughout his childhood coach’s final journey and the last rites. Each of his moves captured by media lenses but this was an occasion to let go from the state of restricted emotions he is used to living with in public. When he lend a shoulder to Achrekar’s dead body, he couldn’t stop tears.

Achrekar was a lot more than just Sachin’s guru, producing an assembly line of cricketers who went on to play for India. But each of them from Vinod Kambli, Chandrakant Pandit, Paras Mhamrey, Pravin Amre, Balwinder Sandhu to Sachin were so heavily soaked in emotion, none could gather thoughts to put in words their feelings after the last rites. Ramesh Powar attempted to and finished in tears.

Achrekar despite limited success as a cricketer had an unmatched eye for talent and unselfish desire to groom. Maidan hopping from Dadar to South Mumbai was his daily routine but Shivaji Park was the one constant around which his life revolved.

Shivaji Park’s status as cradle of Mumbai cricket was underlined after Tendulkar’s discovery. Achrekar took his last breath at his residence which was also opposite Shivaji Park gymkhana.

As a mark of respect, in his final journey, his mortal remains took a pit stop at the 22 yards of ‘Kamath memorial cricket club’ wicket in the centre of vast expanse of Shivaji Park. That’s where his famous pupil would have picked up many of his first lessons that shaped him into being the game’s biggest of icons.

As they carried Achrekar’s body away from the gymkhana towards the crematorium, young boys in cricket whites offered the moving caravan a guard of honour with their bats held high.

It was a fitting tribute to a man who was an institution amongst cricket coaches. He would be happy to see generation next acknowledge his toil.

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