During his splendid career spanning over two decades, Sachin Tendulkar saw many injuries and it seemed his career would be finished, but the legend made numerous comebacks to win the hearts of his fans and silence his critics.
During their long years in professional sports, there are hardly any athlete who's body parts remain intact and function as well as they once did.Like most of top athletes, Sachin also had to endure a lot of pain and suffering over the years and his injury-list used to become the talking point in the cricketing circle.
But time and again, the Master Blaster fought against all the odds and made inspirational comebacks during his 24-year-long cricketing career.Keeping track of Sachin's injuries was rather tough, though it started way back in 1999.
In March-April that year, a back injury forced him out of the tri-series featuring Pakistan and Sri Lanka at home, and the tri-series featuring Pakistan and England at Sharjah that followed.In 2001, Sachin was forced to sit out of the tri-series against New Zealand and hosts Sri Lanka due to a toe-injury.
In 2002, a thigh injury kept him out of an ODI series against Zimbabwe and in the same year, a hamstring injury kept him away from playing the West Indies at home.The ace cricketer also had ankle and finger injuries in between, but they were not as serious as the dreaded tennis elbow, which he endured in 2004-05.
The injury results in the inflammation of tendons by overuse of the forearm, but in Sachin's case, it was so bad that he had trouble lifting a cricket bat."Tennis elbow was really bad. I tried everything that I could: Taking an injection, numbing this in the morning before the Test match.
But nothing worked and the only option was to get operated. I was pushed in the corner so badly. All my physio friends and doctors tried but then certain things needed to be done to get back on the field," Sachin had recalled during an interview.
It was August 2004 when Sachin was diagnosed with the injury, which forced him out of action for over two months. He returned in the middle of the Test series against Australia in October and continued to play till May 2005 before the injury resurfaced.
Sachin underwent surgery in London, and following successful rehab, he made a stunning comeback against Sri Lanka in October. However, the time period between his surgery and his first cricket match almost five months was very tough for the Master Blaster.
"I realised after my surgery that I wasn't able to pick up a cricket bat. I was really depressed. I would call my friends at 2 a.m., 4 a.m. saying c'mon, let's go for a drive as I can't sleep. And they would join me. Of course, at home Anjali was there who'd constantly be telling me that you know the good things that have happened in your life, focus on those things," Sachin had said.
Although Sachin had encountered many injuries, the tennis elbow had made him think that it was end of his career. But his majestic return, which saw him hit a delightful 93, powering India to 350/6 against Sri Lanka, helped Sachin regain his confidence.
"I thought my career was finished, it was done. And all I would pray to God was: Please don't stop my career like this, let me get back on the field again. That feeling... I remember after 4.5 months we played an ODI match against Sri Lanka in Nagpur.
I can never forget that feeling. I looked up and thanked God for that moment. This is all I wanted," he had said.After that tough phase, Sachin had many other injuries, both in international cricket and in the Indian Premier League (IPL), but he always bounced back.
According to medical experts, who worked with Sachin at different stages of his career, the ace batter always used to take on board every little thing the physio and the doctor told him, he was very committed to his rehab and always saw the big picture.
They felt that Sachin designed his game to make the most efficient use of a body that demanded increasing attention with the passage of time.Former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath, who was Sachin's teammate for long, had appreciated the batter for his achievements while battling with injuries.
"I don't think any cricketer has managed his injuries the way Sachin has. More than the body, it is about the mind, because age itself is an injury," Srinath had said.On numerous occasions, people had written off Sachin owing to his injuries, but he always found a second wind.