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Meet Sachin's biggest fan!

Last updated on: November 18, 2009 12:24 IST

Fish curry to celebrate Tendulkar's 20 years

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Harish Kotian Mumbai
Harish Kotian meets an 86-year-old who may well be Tendulkar's biggest fan

It won't be wrong to call Mary Serrao the biggest and most passionate fan Sachin Tendulkar has had in the 20 years he has played international cricket.

If sharing her birthday with the master batsman is not enough, the 86-year-old celebrates every important landmark Tendulkar achieves.

On Sunday, when Sachin completed 20 years in international cricket, Mary was the happiest person in the world, perhaps even more than the cricketing legend and his family.

The moment she realised that November 15 was when he would cross the milestone Mary started planning for the big day.

She organised a party at her home, summoned family members from across the city and distributed sweets to her neighbours.

"But the most important thing was that we made fish curry. Tendulkar loves fish curry so much," Mary told rediff.com.


Image: Mary Serrao with Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Pradeep Dhivar/Mid-Day
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'When Sachin got out, she was upset'

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Ask Mary for any statistics on Tendulkar, and pat comes the reply. She has followed every game he has played in the last 20 years, starting from his debut Test against Pakistan at Karachi in 1989.

Speaking about last Sunday's celebration, her daughter Cecilia Miranda says: "She called her family, her children, grandchildren and had a big get-together. She cut a cake, distributed sweets to the neighbours."

"And you know what, on the cake was written 'Happy 20th anniversary, Sachin!'" adds Miranda.

Mary was looking forward to more moments of delight on Monday when Tendulkar set out to bat in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad. But he didn't last long, scoring just four.

When Sachin got out she was very upset. She was not talking to anyone and seemed annoyed at everyone, so we switched off the television for some time," says Miranda. " Only after she got a bit normal did we put on the television again."


Image: Mary Serrao
Photographs: Uday Kuckian
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'Sachin should complete a century of centuries'

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Asked when she thinks Tendulkar should retire she says: "He needs 13 more centuries to complete 100 international centuries, so he should get that."

"He has to play for another five years; mostly importantly, he has to play the 2011 World Cup and win it for India."

She still remembers the first century Tendulkar scored in a Test -- against England in 1990.

"My favourite Tendulkar century is his first century at Old Trafford. I also like the two centuries he made in Sharjah against Australia to win the tournament and his performance in the 2003 World Cup when he made 673 runs," she says.

So what made her such an avid Tendulkar fan?

"She used to follow cricket even before Tendulkar made his debut, but when she saw him play at such a young age she started liking him," says her daughter Cecilia Miranda. "And when she got to know that he shares the same birth date she became a big fan and started following all his matches."

Mary is not very superstitious as far as Tendulkar is concerned, but when he is batting no one in the room is allowed to talk or change the television channel.

"Her grandchildren try and taunt her saying 'Sachin will get out now'," says Miranda, "and if he does get out then she does not spare them."


Image: Mary Serrao
Photographs: Uday Kuckian
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'Sachin made us feel so special'

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She recalls her only meeting with Tendulkar earlier this year, which she says was a dream come true.

Such was Tendulkar's simplicity and down-to-earth nature that she and her family were bowled over.

"Her wish was to meet Tendulkar once in her lifetime and it finally came true this year when she met him at the Mehboob studios (Bandra, north-west Mumbai) during a photo-shoot."

"May 26 was when we went to meet Tendulkar," says Miranda. "He was so down-to-earth and simple when he met us. My mother was trying to climb up to the first floor to see him, but when he saw that she was finding it hard to climb the stairs he himself came down to meet us."

"He kissed her on the cheeks and after that she went crazy. She didn't let anyone talk or come near Sachin and spent nearly an hour talking to him. Usually he is so busy, but he took out time especially for her, which I think was a very noble gesture."

"It is unbelievable that a big world-class player like him, one of the top celebrities in the world, can do so much for his fans. He is so simple; the best part was that he made us feel so special."

Sourav Ganguly is also another favourite of Mary's.

"Ganguly is her second favourite, followed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. She was also upset when Ganguly was dropped from the team and used to say 'How can they treat him like that? It is wrong.'"

Tendulkar has assured the family that he will visit their suburban home to have fish curry. Mary Serrao hopes that day come soon.


Image: Mary Serrao with Sachin Tendulkar's portrait
Photographs: Uday Kuckian
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