New Delhi: It's been two months since Sachin Tendulkar bade farewell to the cricket field, but the master has already taken on a new role - to mentor some of India's brightest young cricketers.
Hours after his retirement at the end of the Mumbai Test against West Indies, the Bharat Ratna-in-waiting had said he would take some time to decide on his future, after a 24-year long international career.
Now, in conjunction with sports apparel major Adidas, Tendulkar has decided to help 11 youngsters pursue their passion.
"This is a great initiative from Adidas to support the future of this sport, which encourages aspiring athletes to follow their passion. Mentoring these talented young cricketers will let me be close to what I love and give back to the sport," Tendulkar said at a private event.
The cricketers range from 16-year-old Mumbaikar Sarfaraz Khan to 25-year-old Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parveez Rasool, who have been signed on by the company.
Others in the list include India under-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand and his teammates Baba Aparajith, Akshdeep Nath, Rush Kalaria, Vikas Mishra and Manan Vohra.
Another member of that team and current under-19 captain, Maharashtra batsman Vijay Zol, is also among the players, as is Gujarat and Delhi Daredevils batsman Manpreet Juneja and Maharashtra's Chirag Khurana.
For someone like Delhi opener Unmukt, who is struggling to translate his obvious talent into consistent performances, a few sessions with Tendulkar could be a huge boost. So far in his career, Unmukt has played 31 first-class matches and scored 1,688 runs at 36.69 with four hundreds.
Ditto for Aparajith, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder, who has begun to set the domestic stage alight. In 23 firstclass games, the skinny 19-year-old has already scored five tons and averages 54.28. He batted brilliantly in the early part of the season, scoring double hundreds in the Duleep Trophy opener against West Zone and the Ranji Trophy opener against Services.
Zol is known to be a child prodigy and has helped lead the Maharashtra team into the Ranji final with some decent performances. His unbeaten 91 was crucial in Maharashtra's victory over Mumbai in the quarter-finals, while his century against Pakistan got India the u-19 Asia Cup title in Sharjah earlier this month.
Vohra, too, is considered a good talent, and his potential is so high that Kings XI Punjab retained him for the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, despite the fact that he's an uncapped Indian player.
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