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How does Sachin Tendulkar do it?

Soutik Biswas | 13:14 UK time, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sachin Tendulkar after his world record innings in Gwalior, IndiaHow does Sachin Tendulkar do it? How does a 36-year-old cricketer stay at the top of the game for 20 years? How does he retain this insatiable hunger for achievement after scoring more than 30,000 runs in the long (Test) and shorter (50 over) versions of the game?

Cricket fans are asking these questions again after Tendulkar created history by firing the first double century in one-day internationals.

It was an unbelievable innings of brutal finesse - he smacked 25 fours and three sixes and batted just 147 balls to score 200. He simply toyed with South Africa's formidable bowlers.

"Take a bow master!", "You little champion!", gasped the commentators as Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion and the crowds went delirious.

"If anybody is deserving of this feat, it is Tendulkar and nobody else," gushed another commentator, and then ran out of words.

You are indeed lost for words trying to explain the genius, elegance and sheer power of one of the greatest cricketers ever born, but more so after his breathtaking display at Gwalior on Wednesday.

I think the best tribute to Tendulkar's genius came from former cricketer and present day guru of cricket writing Peter Roebuck.

"Viv Richards could terrorise an attack with pitiless brutality, Lara could dissect bowlers with surgical and magical strokes, Tendulkar can take an attack apart with towering simplicity. From the start he had an uncanny way of executing his strokes perfectly. Tendulkar was born to bat," he once wrote.

Tendulkar is India's biggest icon and proudest possession - I remember the rising crescendo of noise when he walked up to receive an award in a stadium filled to the brim in Mumbai two years ago. There were other cricket and Bollywood stars being feted that evening. Nobody could match the reception that Tendulkar got.

If you want to know how difficult it has been for Tendulkar to become the greatest cricketer India has ever had, listen to Roebuck again:

"The runs, the majesty, the thrills, do not capture his achievement. Reflect upon his circumstances and then marvel at his feat. Here is a man obliged to put on disguises so that he can move around the streets, a fellow able to drive his cars only in the dead of night for fear of creating a commotion, a father forced to take his family to Iceland on holiday, a person whose entire adult life has been lived in the eye of a storm."

It has been an incredible journey for this magician of cricket. And he is still pulling off new tricks and hitting fresh milestones. How does he do it?

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