Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra has revealed how the word ‘paaji’ got to be associated with Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar, world cricket’s leading run getter, was affectionately called ‘paaji’ by his teammates, which means brother.
Until the end of his career, or even now, current and former cricketers, who were once Tendulkar’s teammates, have used the word ‘paaji’ out of respect while mentioning him. Nehra revealed how it was Tendulkar’s knock of 98 against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup against Pakistan due to which Tendulkar’s teammates started calling the master batsman ‘paaji’.
“Before this, we used to call him Sachin or Sachin ‘bhai’ (brother). The first time we used the word ‘paaji’ was after the 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan,” Nehra said on the Watch Along episode of the India vs Pakistan 2003 match on Star Sports.
“On our way back to the hotel, in the bus, Harbhajan Singh started singing in the back ‘Paaji No. 1’. So that’s how everyone started calling Sachin Tendulkar paaji. Before him, there was only one paaji, who was Kapil paaji.”
Tendulkar’s 98 is regarded as one of his finest ODI innings. In Centurion, during that inning, Tendulkar went past 12000 ODI runs as India beat Pakistan by six wickets to stretch their World Cup record over the arch rivals to 4-0 (which currently stands 7-0). It was also during the knock that Tendulkar hit the famous six over point off the bowling of Shoaib Akhtar.
Chasing 274 to win, in the second over of India’s innings, Tendulkar went after a short and wide ball from Shoaib, which was timed so well that it flew over the point boundary for six. Tendulkar followed the six with a superbly-timed flick for a boundary off the next ball and capped the over off with a straight drive down to the boundary. But even 17 years later, the six over point continues to stand as one of the defining memories of India-Pakistan cricket rivalry.
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