Sachin Tendulkar, during his 24-year-long playing career, had his fair shares of injuries but none more serious than the dreaded tennis elbow, which the former India batsman endured in 2004-05. The injury results in the inflammation of tendons by overuse of the forearm but in Tendulkar’s case, it was the so far that he had trouble lifting a cricket bat.

“Tennis elbow was really bad. I tried everything that I could: taking an injection, numbing this in the morning before the Test match. But nothing worked and the only option was to get operated. I was pushed in the corner so badly. All my physio friends and doctors tried but then certain things need to be done to get back on the field,” Tendulkar said.

It was in August 2004, when Tendulkar was diagnosed with the injury and had to be forced out of action for over two months. He returned in the middle of the Test series against Australia in October and continue to play till May 2005 when the injury resurfaced. Tendulkar underwent surgery in London, and following successful rehab, made a stunning comeback against Sri Lanka in October.

That said, the period between his surgery and first cricket match in almost five months were tough, as Tendulkar explained.

“I realised after my surgery I wasn’t able to pick up a cricket bat, I was really depressed. I would call my friends at 2 a.m., 4 a.m. in the morning saying c’mon lets go for a drive I can’t sleep. And they would join me and without their support, my family’s support, Anjali’s parents. Of course, at home Anjali was there who’d be constantly be telling me you know the good things that have happened in my life to focus on those things,” Tendulkar added.

“Just the other day I was playing with some kids who were playing with plastic ball and plastic bat and it reminded me of my tennis elbow because I was starting to again play with a plastic bat and with that, I could barely hit a ball. And my first outing after 3.5 months there were 12 year old kids stopping full-blooded cover drives that I was looking to hit at literally 10-15 years.”

It was perhaps the only injury which Tendulkar thought could end his career. But his majestic return, which saw the former batsman stroke a delightful 93, powering India to 350/6, helped Tendulkar regain his confidence.

“I thought my career was finished, it was done. And all I would pray to God was: please don’t stop my career like this, let me get back on the field again. That feeling, I remember after 4.5 months we played an ODI match against Sri Lanka in Nagpur. I can never forget that feeling. I looked up and thanked god for that moment. This is all I wanted,” he said.