| Sudhir Gautam blows a conch at Moinul Haque Stadium in July 2011. Telegraph picture |
Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from cricket would probably take the colour out of Sudhir Gautam’s life, the most visible fan of the nation’s most popular sport.
Sudhir plans to give his God a farewell by painting “Miss U” above the already inscribed “Tendulkar 10” on his chest.
Talking to The Telegraph over phone from Jaipur, where he has gone to cheer Team India in its second ODI against Australia on Wednesday, Sudhir said: “Cricket will not be the same for me. However, I will keep on cheering the Indian team as long as I am alive. Sachin Sir is God for me and I am going to miss him very much. It is very sad that he has decided to retire.”
Sudhir, hailing from Muzaffarpur, paints his body in the colours of the Tricolour and has been cheering the Indian national cricket team for the past decade.
He met Sachin for the first time at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on November 6, 2003.
At Sachin’s last Test match at the Wankhede in Mumbai beginning on November 14, Sudhir will sport the same look but for one change — above the “Tendulkar 10” painted on his chest, he will ink “Miss U”.
“This is my way of bidding him farewell. As he has announced his retirement, I have one last dream to lift him on my shoulders and go around the stadium with the Tricolour in my hand.”
Sudhir, who has been a visitor to the Team India dressing room, said Sachin would support him for the rest of his life and sponsor his presence in any India match across the globe.
“He has promised to provide me match tickets all my life. I want him to play on but I have no power to raise any question on his decision,” he said.
It takes around five hours for Sudhir to paint his body in oil paint and another three hours to remove it. He also blows the conch in every match.
He recalled a moment when he blew the conch at Sachin’s Carter Road residence in Mumbai. “I gifted him a conch at his home and blew it thrice,” he said.
Sudhir has cheered for Sachin and the Indian team in 205 ODIs, 40 Test matches, 53 IPL matches and 18 T20 games. The 32-year-old also has direct access to Sachin’s house.