Sachin pays respects

Calcutta: It was three years ago, almost to the day, that Bal Thackeray ticked off Sachin Tendulkar for very forcefully saying that Mumbai belonged to every Indian.

Commenting on the 'Mumbai for Maharashtrians' slogan being championed by Thackeray nephew Raj and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Sachin had said: "Mumbai belongs to India. That is how I look at it. I am a Maharashtrian and I am extremely proud of that... But I am an Indian first."

Thackeray retaliated through an 'open letter' in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamna. His biting response included the following: "...You have got yourself run out on the pitch of Marathi pride... Sachin, you manage your international pitch."

Even if he was hurt, Sachin didn't react.

On Saturday, soon after the Shiv Sena supremo passed away, Sachin paid a respect-oozing tribute.

In an SMS to The Telegraph, Sachin stated: "Really sad to hear about Balasaheb's demise. His contribution to Maharashtra was immense. It's a terrible loss and he will always be remembered and missed.

"Unfortunately, I am in Ahmedabad, as I would have liked to pay my last respects personally. My condolences to his family. May God rest his soul in peace."

Sachin has steered clear of politics, but accepted a Rajya Sabha nomination earlier this year, shortly after becoming the only cricketer to register 100 International hundreds.