Wankhede Stadium to get maiden statue of Sachin tomorrow

Mumbai, Oct 31 (IANS) The famous 49-year-old Wankhede Stadium at Churchgate will get a first-ever statue of a cricketing icon on its sprawling premises – that of none other than Sachin Tandulkar — in his familiar ‘lofted drive’ shot.

The larger-than-life-size statue of Tendulkar shall be unveiled by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the cricketer himself, and other dignitaries at the ‘Sachin Tendulkar Stand’ in the stadium, which is all decked up to host some of the ICC ODI World Cup matches this week.

The statue was commissioned by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and promises to be an eye-catcher at the prime spot inside the stadium – which has been virtually Tendulkar’s cricketing home turf.

Planned around June-July, the statue is billed as the MCA’s tribute to the 50th birthday (April 24) of Tendulkar, being celebrated by his fans and cricket lovers world over this year.

Tendulkar, a resident of Bandra, not only played some of his best matches and set or broke many records at the Wankhede Stadium, it was also the venue for his swansong Test match here 10 years ago – in November 2013 – before he retired.

Designed and built by well-known sculptor from Ahmednagar, Pramod Kamble, in gleaming dark bronze metal, with a glittering finish – the statue will bring glory to the stadium as its first-ever ‘permanent residential statue’ of any cricketing hero till date.

According to Kamble, the Tendulakar statue measures 10 feet in height plus 4 feet – a total of 14 feet tall – in the classic pose he’s known for, hitting a sixer that drove the crowds raging wild wherever he played.

MCA insiders said that the statue was in planning since long as a tribute to Tendulkar’s 50th birthday and at one stage it was proposed to be erected at the MCA Club.

However, some MCA officials felt it would be ‘out of public view’ since the club access is only for the elite members, and suggested it should be right inside the stadium where thousands could view it.

The suggestion was readily accepted, and reportedly even earned Tendulkar’s nod for the spot where it now stands – in the classic ‘lofted drive’ pose.

Kamble said he met Tendulkar to discuss whether he wanted a standing pose or an action one, and he wanted the latter.

Then he got down to checking photos/videos of thousands of his ‘action poses’, all of which were good, and finally they selected the sixer shot in a lofted drive action pose, with his left leg extended, body slightly bent, head high and the bat pointing at the sky.

After selecting the correct pose, Kamble made several miniature models, then there were rounds of discussions on each model, and then ultimately he created the bronze statue in the finalised model that will see light of the day on November 1.

Tendulkar, who was conferred a Bharat Ratna in 2014, is a veteran of 15,921 runs in 200 Test matches, 18,426 ODI scores, and had played his farewell match at the Wankhede Stadium, drawing curtains on a cricketing career of over two decades.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

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