It is a well knock fact that Sachin Tendulkar has been respectfully called ‘paaji’ by his Indian teammates. It is not only the players from the past but the current crop also regard him as ‘paaji’. Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra, who shared the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar for a long time, revealed the reason behind this attribution.
Nehra said that they started calling him so after his 2003 World Cup knock against Pakistan. It turned out to be so that after defeating the arch-rivals in the match, where Tendulkar was awarded the man-of-the-match for his prolific knock, Harbhajan Singh started singing ‘paaji No.1 in the team bus’ and that is how he was starting being referred as the same.
“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.”
Chasing the target of 274 runs, India rode on a prolific 98 runs knock from Tendulkar to chase down the total with 26 balls to spare. Tendulkar narrowly missed out on his century after being dismissed by Shoaib Akhtar but he did his job with a knock that will always be highly regarded by the Indian fans.
His knock was laced with 12 boundaries and one hit over the fence.
Tendulkar continues to be the leading run-scorer in in international cricket with 34, 357 runs — 15,921 in Tests, 18426 in ODIs and 10 from a solitary T20I.