That's what friends are for                                                              Bombay Times |17/4/2000

Sachin Tendulkar describes his friendship with Vinod Kambli as being "Very, very special." Kambli, on his part says, "It's unbreakable." Those who have been close to the two swear by their friendship. They joke together, share a meal together, and yes, even cry together. This relationship of theirs has been through 17 eventful years, beginning as school kids and then blossoming to what it is now. It is getting stronger by the day.

The duo hit the headlines with their record breaking partnership of 664 runs for the third wicket against St Xavier's in the Harris Shield inter-schools cricket match. The Shardashram mates, who were great pals then, had become instant celebrities. But there is more to their friendship than just the runs they have scored. "Our friendship is not performance oriented," they both chorus. "It took some time but slowly gained momentum," says Kambli. "We have played at the school level, state, and even for the country together. There is that special bonding," Kambli adds.

Going back in time to the first time they met, Kambli says: "It was in 1982, during the selection of the school team. You won't believe it, I was selected but he wasn't. From then on I started seeing him at the nets. He was a bit tense initially. We began meeting regularly at nets and in school and our friendship caught on from there."

Ask Kambli whether he feels bad for losing out on fame while his more illustrious pal has hogged the limelight and he is quick on the draw. "Never," says he. "I have been with him since childhood and I have always wished him well. I have never been jealous of his success."

Delving into his lean period, Kambli says, "He (Sachin) is my friend, philosopher and guide. He has always supported me and been there when I have needed him."

Sachin, on his part, is equally vocal about his feelings for his pal. "Our relationship is very transparent. What is there to say about it," he says adding, "we've been the best of friends. One needs to be really close to understand this friendship. It's very difficult to put in words what he actually means to me. All I can say that it's very, very special."

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Copyright 2006 Martin D'Souza. All rights reserved.