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Articles courtesy of: Indian Express Newspapers Ltd 
                           Indian Abroad News Service

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Meet the unsung heroes who have a hand in 
Sachin's Tendulkar's success

By PAWANDEEP SOOCH AND BALBIR SINGH

JALANDHAR/CHANDIGARH, APRIL 3: When Sachin Tendulkar scored his 10,000th one-day run on Saturday, the media trotted out the familiar talking heads who had played a role in his success. But there was one man, in a dingy alley off the backstreets of Jalandhar, who -- though unsung and uncelebrated -- could lay a more direct claim: Mehnga Ram, maker of the master's bats. 

For the past six-odd years, after Kapil Dev introduced them to Sachin, the bats that have tormented bowlers at every cricket ground from Lords to Lahore have been supplied from the town that is the centre of India's sports-goods industry. This is where a log of mulberry wood is fashioned into a blade that can tear apart the world's best bowling attack. 

Mehnga Ram works for manufacturers Beat-All Sports who market their bats under the brand-name BAS. To say he's much sought-after is an understatement; his employers put a gag order on him after a TV network told his story. The 47-year-old father of six lives in a nondescript dwelling along the railway track on the outskirts of Jalandhar; sources say he earns, along with his family, around Rs 8,000 a month. 

His son Suresh says Mehnga, who migrated to India from Pakistan (Sialkot) in 1971, works for the pleasure of seeing Sachin and others -- including Kapil Dev, Jadeja, Navjot Sidhu and Madan Lal -- using the bat to its fullest. His wife says he's had offers to leave and there was even an incident 16 years ago when he actually stopped work for a few days. But his employers brought him back and he's never had second thoughts since.

 But Mehnga's is only half the story told. There's still some way to go before the bats reach Sachin. From Jalandhar, they are sent to Chandigarh, where they are `seasoned' by a motley collection of young hopefuls, grizzled veterans and those just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. 

Amit Sharma runs a sports shop in the city and is the sole representative of BAS. His job is to use the bats for `knocking and compressing'. ``We receive four to five bats per month. Sometimes the number goes up to 20, depending on the availability of mulberry wood and Sachin's cricketing schedule. This willow is now available only in Jammu and Kashmir, it has disappeared from Punjab.'' 

The bats are heavy, says former Punjab Ranji player Arun Sharma, who runs a cricket centre in Chandigarh. ``They can't be given to youngsters or rookies; they are first given to coaches and pros for practice at the nets in the coaching centres.'' 

Heavy or not, using a bat in the knowledge that it might end up in the hands of the world's greatest living batsman is like a dream come true. ``Badaam khane padte hain,'' says Arun Sharma. ``They are heavier by about 13 grams which is a lot. But I feel honoured to play with the bat.'' 

Harish Sharma, another coach who helps with the knocking, says Chandigarh is lucky to receive Sachin's bats for knocking.``Is shehar ki kismat tez hai. I use them with great care because the bat could one day decide India's fate.'' He agrees that Sachin's bats are exceptionally heavy. ``Pakad ke dekho to lagta hai kisi ne koi bat banaya hai,'' he says. 

After 10-15 days' use, the bats are polished and returned to the manufacturer who gives the finishing touches and sends them on to Sachin. 

What makes these bats so special? Former junior Indian cricketer Sukhwinder Tinku says their weight and softness make for good strokeplay with proper timing. Lighter bats, he points out, require more effort to smash a delivery to the boundary. For Harish Sharma, the uniqueness lies in the bigger curve and the thicker blade. 

For Mehnga Ram, it's all in a day's work. 

Lots in a name. 

For BAS, there's little public glory in making the Bat That Sachin Uses. Contractual obligations mean that the company's logo is covered by that of Sachin's sponsor. Ravinder Dhir, head of a Jalandhar sports-goods manufacturers' lobby group, says children invariably ask for the bat bearing the sponsor's name. ``So we have to take off our logos and put on another sticker,'' he says. 

Copyright 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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The Men Who Fashion Tendulkar's Bat

Mehnga Ram, 47, 
is a father of six 
and lives on the 
outskirts of 
Jalandhar, 
India's main 
sports goods 
centre. For a 
salary of Rs 
8,000 a month, 
he carves 
mulberry wood 
into some of 
finest bats for a 
company called 
Beat-All Sports 
(BAS), The 
Indian Express 
newspaper 
reported.

NEW DELHI - The top guns of Indian cricket have been basking in reflected glory since Sachin Tendulkar became the first to score 10,000 runs in the one-day game, but a silent group of men in Punjab probably have more to do with his phenomenal success. 

Perhaps most deserving of some credit is a craftsman based near Jalandhar, Punjab, who labours over Tendulkar's main weapon -- the heavy bat he uses to give many a bowler nightmares. 

Mehnga Ram, 47, is a father of six and lives on the outskirts of Jalandhar, India's main sports goods centre. For a salary of Rs 8,000 a month, he carves mulberry wood into some of finest bats for a company called Beat-All Sports (BAS), The Indian Express newspaper reported. 

According to his son Suresh, Mehnga Ram considers seeing top Indian players like Tendulkar and Kapil Dev, Ajay Jadeja, Navjot Sidhu and Madan Lal before him making optimum use of his bats as the real reward for his hard work. 

Mehnga Ram's wife says there has been many an attempt to wean the master craftsman away from BAS, but the company has managed to retain him. 

After Mehnga Ram works his magic on the willow, the scene shifts to Chandigarh where a clutch of players "season" and "knock" the bats he makes, honored all the while as they know one of them could land up in Tendulkar's hands. 

"We receive four to five bats per month. Sometimes the number goes up to 20, depending on the availability of mulberry wood and Sachin's cricketing schedule," Amit Sharma, the BAS representative in Chandigarh responsible for "knocking and compressing" the bats, told the paper. 

Former Punjab player Arun Sharma, who runs a cricket centre in Chandigarh, said the special bats are heavy. "They can't be given to youngsters or rookies; they are first given to coaches and pros for practice at the nets in the coaching centres." 

"They are heavier by about 13 grams, which is a lot," Sharma said. "But I feel honoured to play with the bat". 

Harish Sharma, another Chandigarh coach who knocks Tendulkar's bats, said, "This city is lucky. I use them with great care because the bat could one day decide India's fate". After being knocked for about a fortnight, the bats are polished and returned to the manufacturer, who adds the finishing touches and ships them off to the master batsman himself. 

Former junior Indian player Sukhwinder Tinku explained the bats are special because their weight and softness make for good strokeplay. Harish Sharma felt their uniqueness lies in the bigger curve and thicker blade. 

IANS

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Sachin's bat maker basks in his glory

April 04, 2001, 14:45 Hrs (IST) 

New Delhi: The top guns of Indian cricket have been basking in reflected glory since Sachin Tendulkar became the first to score 10,000 runs in the One-day game, but a silent group of men in Punjab probably have more to do with his phenomenal success. 

Perhaps most deserving of some credit is a craftsman based near Jalandhar, Punjab, who labours over Tendulkar's main weapon - the heavy bat he uses to give many a bowler nightmares. 

Mehnga Ram, 47, is a father of six and lives on the outskirts of Jalandhar, India's main sports goods centre. For a salary of Rs. 8,000 a month, he carves mulberry wood into some of finest bats for a company called Beat All Sports (BAS), a leading Indian daily reported. 

According to his son Suresh, Mehnga Ram considers seeing top Indian players like Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Ajay Jadeja, Navjot Sidhu and Madan Lal making optimum use of his bats as the real reward for his hard work. 

Mehnga Ram's wife says there have been many an attempt to wean the master craftsman away from BAS, but the company has managed to retain him. 

After Mehnga Ram works his magic on the willow, the scene shifts to Chandigarh where a clutch of players "season" and "knock" the bats he makes, honoured all the while as they know one of them could land up in Tendulkar's hands. 

"We receive four to five bats per month. Sometimes the number goes up to 20, depending on the availability of mulberry wood and Sachin's cricketing schedule," Amit Sharma, the BAS representative in Chandigarh responsible for "knocking and compressing" the bats, told the daily. 

Former Punjab player Arun Sharma, who runs a cricket centre in Chandigarh, said the special bats are heavy. "They can't be given to youngsters or rookies; they are first given to coaches and pros for practice at the nets in the coaching centres." 

"They are heavier by about 13 grams, which is a lot," Sharma said. "But I feel honoured to play with the bat." 

Harish Sharma, another Chandigarh coach who knocks Tendulkar's bats, said, "This city is lucky. I use them with great care because the bat could one day decide India's fate."

After being knocked for about a fortnight, the bats are polished and returned to the manufacturer, who adds the finishing touches and ships them off to the master batsman himself. 

Former junior Indian player Sukhwinder Tinku explained the bats are special because their weight and softness make for good stroke play. Harish Sharma felt their uniqueness lies in the bigger curve and thicker blade. 

India Abroad News Service

 

 

 

 
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