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Named After Tendulkar, Bats Like Kohli – Sachin Dhas, Saviour of India U19 Team

#U19WorldCup | Sachin Dhas, India U19's crisis manager, is fulfilling his father's dream, while inspiring the nation

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The distant echoes of explosions reverberated through the phone call. An unrelenting, incessant symphony of booms and bangs. On the other end of the line, an out-of-breath voice – not stemming from anxiety, but euphoria – blew the gaff about the cacophony.

Mohalle waale patakhein laaye hai sir, bas wahi phod rahein (the neighbours are bursting firecrackers,” said a discernibly jubilant Sanjay Dhas, from Maharashtra's Beed, whilst speaking with The Quint. Only a few minutes ago, he had witnessed the Indian Under-19 cricket team securing a nail-biting victory over South Africa by two wickets in the 2024 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup semi-final.

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Faith Is a Good Thing, Maybe the Best of Things

India’s young colts had no business emerging victorious in the semi-final – reeling at 32/4 in a chase of 245 runs. At one end, Uday Saharan, the skipper, held the fort from one end. At the other end, India screamed for a disruptor. A firebrand, who would numb the fiery pacers of South Africa. A malcontent for the opposition, sparking menace.

Sanjay Dhas’ son, Sachin, burst onto the scene. And burst he did, scoring 96 runs from 95 deliveries, effectively taking the game away from the Proteas.

Mujhe poora vishwas tha ki Sachin match jita dega (I had belief that Sachin will win the match for India). I am a huge cricket fan. When I first started watching the game, I used to always have faith in Sunil Gavaskar to win matches for India. Then I had the same faith in Sachin Tendulkar, and after him, Virat Kohli. In Sachin, I have the same faith that I had in Gavaskar, Tendulkar and Kohli. I was very confident that he would win it for India.
Sanjay Dhas, Father of Sachin Dhas

Named After Tendulkar, but Only After a Late Switch From Gavaskar

Sanjay’s dream – that of his son representing the nation – was first envisaged even before Sachin was born. That, he will be named after the sport’s ‘God’, Sachin Tendulkar, was also determined before Sachin saw the light of the day.

I wanted to become a professional cricketer, but truth be told, I did not have either the financial means or the talent. Hum to sir gully cricket ke upar kuch khel nahin paaye (I couldn’t play anything besides gully cricket). My dream never came to fruition. But I was always determined that my child would be named after Sachin Tendulkar, and that he would become a cricketer.
Sanjay Dhas
#U19WorldCup | Sachin Dhas, India U19's crisis manager, is fulfilling his father's dream, while inspiring the nation

A young Sachin with his father, Sanjay Dhas, en route to a practice session.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

Albeit, he could easily have been called ‘Sunny Dhas,’ had it not been for a late alteration of plans.

Because I am a big Sunil Gavaskar fan, I wanted to name my son after him. I thought of naming him Sunny Dhas. But Gavaskar had retired long before my son was born, and in that era, Sachin Tendulkar was ruling the world of cricket. So I thought, why not name him Sachin Dhas instead?
Sanjay Dhas
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From One Sachin to Another

Although Sanjay did not pursue cricket professionally, his connection with sports remained unwavering. Both he and his wife, Surekha Dhas, represented Maharashtra in Kabaddi. Yet, nothing touched a nerve in the manner cricket, and especially, Tendulkar did.

You won’t believe how devastated I was when Sachin retired. Nothing would stop my tears on that day. I was so heartbroken that I decided not to watch cricket ever again, but Virat Kohli got me back into it. I have never missed a single match of four cricketers – Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Kohli and my son. This (U19 World Cup) is the first tournament where Sachin is playing and I’m not cheering for him from the stands.
Sanjay Dhas
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Get Them Early

Hardly had Sachin completed merely four orbits around the sun that his father deemed it the opportune moment to initiate him into the world of cricket coaching. Aiding Sanjay in his endeavour was Sachin’s childhood coach, Azhar Shaikh.

Sachin came to me when he was only four years of age. His commitment to the game was incredible. He used to arrive at the ground early morning and practice for four hours. Then, he came back again in the afternoon and practiced for three hours. That’s seven hours every day, without fail. His mother was not initially keen on Sachin playing cricket, but nothing would deter his father.
Azhar Shaikh, Coach of Sachin Dhas
#U19WorldCup | Sachin Dhas, India U19's crisis manager, is fulfilling his father's dream, while inspiring the nation

Sachin has been training under coach Azhar Shaikh since he was four years of age.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

Sanjay was perfectly aware that through his son, he wanted to live the life he could only ever dream of. In his admission of being self-serving, he speaks straight from the shoulder. Fortunately, stars aligned, and Sachin turned out to be as ardent a lover of the game as his father.

I know that it was my unfulfilled dream that I wanted my son to fulfil, but he never had any complaints. Fortunately, just like me, he is a big cricket fan too. When other kids of his age were crying for toy cars and dolls, Sachin wanted nothing else but a cricket bat. There has not been a single day where he said ‘Papa, I don’t feel like waking up early today and going for practice.’ Sachin faced 700 to 1000 deliveries at the nets every day, but was never tired of batting.
Sanjay Dhas
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The First Glimpse of Brilliance

Passion, commitment, dedication – notwithstanding how fancy they sound – can only take you so far in cricket. Especially in a nation of 1.4 billion, 1.5 billion of whom are fervent cricket enthusiasts.

Sanjay knew the importance of talent, and saw the maiden glimpse of that at an Under-14 match.

He was only six when I was convinced he has the talent to make it big. Despite being so young, he played in an Under-14 inter-district match and scored unbeaten 26, facing bowlers much older than him. After that, he went to play state-level cricket and was the highest scorer in only his first game.
Sanjay Dhas
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How a Feeble Kid Became a Power-Hitter

At the U19 World Cup, Sachin has struck seven sixes – a feat surpassed by only three batters across all teams. Whilst clips of his gigantic sixes are now doing rounds, drawing comparisons to the batting style of Virat Kohli, it was not until a few years ago that he mastered the art of power-hitting.

Initially, my son was very weak. He was decent in playing shots down the ground, but lacked the power to hit sixes. His coach decided to work on his physique when he got into the U16 team, and it proved to be the right decision.
Sanjay Dhas

The coach offers an insight into his rationale:

His strokeplay has always been very good, but he was not strong enough to play the big shots. So, I decided that besides cricket, he should also spend time at the gym to build some muscles. That helped him become a much better hitter of the ball.
Azhar Shaikh
#U19WorldCup | Sachin Dhas, India U19's crisis manager, is fulfilling his father's dream, while inspiring the nation

Initially a feeble kid, Sachin was asked to spend time in the gym by his coach.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

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Father’s Advice to Son

Despite his son having carved his eminence now, Sanjay has not stopped sharing his suggestions with him. The most crucial, and frequently repeated advice of them being:

Sachin is a naturally aggressive batter, so my advice to him always has been to respect the good deliveries and hit only the bad ones. I tell him ‘Beta, tu jaise humesha run banane ko dekhta hai, waise bowler bhi wicket lene ka dekhega na? (Son, like how you always want to score runs, bowlers are also always looking to pick wickets).
Sanjay Dhas

Now, ahead of 11 February’s final, he has another advice for Sachin.

Before the final, I will tell him to play according to the need of the team. India ke waaste khelne ka hai, public ke dilon mein hero banne ke waaste nahin (Play for India, not to be a hero in people’s hearts). Just do what the team wants you to, because our only target is to win the World Cup, not individual milestones.
Sanjay Dhas
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A Dream Realised, Two Yet To Be Fulfilled

For Sanjay, the Arogya Vibhag (Health Department) employee with the state government, the dream of his son representing the nation has been fulfilled. There are, however, two checkboxes yet to be ticked.

The first of them is winning the U19 World Cup, albeit Sanjay exudes confidence, as he claims “Main keh raha hun aapko, sau per cent India final maarne waala hai (I am one hundred per cent confident about India winning the final).”

The second dream is more personal.

I just pray to god that I get to meet the god of cricket. If I ever get the chance to meet Sachin Tendulkar, I would consider myself to be the luckiest person in the world.
Sanjay Dhas

Considering how Sachin – Dhas, not Tendulkar – is going about his business, Sachin – Tendulkar, not Dhas – might be meeting Sanjay soon.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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