It has been 19 years since 46-year-old Guruprasad gave his idol and cricket sensation Sachin Tendulkar a piece of advice in the hallways of Taj Coromandel in Chennai. Guruprasad recalls stopping Sachin, and asking for an autograph from the cricketer. He was a member of the security staff in the hotel and was not even carrying a sheet of paper to offer for the signature. Instead he asked India's star cricketer to leave his autograph on his 'beat book', where he made hourly reports about hotel security.
Sachin generously signed the book, but Guruprasad was not done. "I asked him if I can give him a suggestion concerning cricket," he tells TNM, "I really wasn't sure if he would listen to someone like me but he readily agreed."
And while this may have been a memorable moment for the security staff, what he didn't expect was Sachin himself to recall this event 19 years later and ask social media to help him find the fan.
On December 14, the now retired cricketer tweeted a short excerpt of a video interview, where he recalls this insightful conversation.
"He (Guruprasad) said I want to discuss something with you about cricket. I said yes, please go ahead," said Sachin. "He said - whenver I see you wear an arm guard, your bat swing changes. And I don't think I had spoken about this to anyone in the world. I was the only person who was aware of that, and this waiter said I am a huge fan and I rewind your batting 5-7 times and watch every ball multiple times. That is why I thought whenever you wore an elbow guard your bat swing changed a bit. And I said yes, you are the only person in the world who has figured out that. But you won't believe, after that I came back to the room from the ground, I carried my elbow guard and I got my elbow guard and redesigned it according to the correct size and padding required. But he was the only one," recalled Sachin.
Sachin then went on to say that the chance encounter was memorable and expressed his wish to catch up with him. He further aked netizens to help find this fan, and they sure did deliver.
A chance encounter can be memorable!— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) December 14, 2019
I had met a staffer at Taj Coromandel, Chennai during a Test series with whom I had a discussion about my elbow guard, after which I redesigned it.
I wonder where he is now & wish to catch up with him.
Hey netizens, can you help me find him? pic.twitter.com/BhRanrN5cm
Finding him in his Perambur home, News18 Tamil Nadu, was the first to show the world the man who helped Sachin improve his game.
"He must have mistaken me for a waiter because I was in uniform," laughs Guruprasad, while speaking to TNM, "Sachin was in Chennai for the India-Australia series and as an avid cricket fan I was just so excited at the opportunity to interact with him. I told him his arm guard is arresting his wrist movement when batting and leading to him getting out and that he should rectify that."
When asked how he deciphered the problem with the arm guard he says, "My friends and I would never miss a single innings of Sachin Tendulkar. He is the same age as I am and I have followed every match of his. So I was very familiar with his manner of striking. With an arm guard, I noticed that something was different. As far as Indian cricketers are concerned, the wrist is everything. From Sachin to Virat Kohli they all depend on their wrist when on strike. If the ball comes to leg they will counter it easily with the wrist. Even if it comes to off and middle, they need to use their wrist. Cricket players know that this is a small but crucial movement. It is like if the axle falls, the chariot will topple," he explains.
Guruprasad recalls that soon after this conversation, Sachin did indeed change his arm guard and went on to score 200 in a series in South Africa, a record previously held by only Virender Sehwag in the Indian team.
"But now, close to two decades after this conversation, I did not expect him to even remember me. The whole conversation was only about a minute long and he had asked how I noticed his game so deeply, " says Guruprasad laughing. "But which Indian fan does not notice Sachin Tendulkar?" he asks.
Soon after Sachin posted the tweet, Guruprasad came to know about it from his nephew who lives abroad.
"I was elated and I am really looking forward to meeting him. I have nothing to offer him now but my prayers for his and his family's good health and long life," he says. "I only request that he also allow me to bring some of my friends who have shared this cricket passion with me," he adds.
And how has his family reacted to this?
"They are all thrilled and excited. This has been emotional," says Guruprasad, "I only wish my parents had been alive to see this day. They would have been proud."