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The Sachin Tendulkar Interview

The transcript of the Sachin Tendulkar interview on Harsha Online, aired on STAR Sports on Monday, March 25, 2002 at 2230 IST.

On his wearing the Indian flag sticker on his helmet

I am obviously very proud to be an Indian and it is just one of those things; it just goes with the uniform, and when I am representing India, it's there right on my forehead; it's something special and I feel proud to wear it.

I might be in any part of the world, but I am an Indian and I would like to be known as an Indian and I am proud of it.

On how he still manages to motivate himself before every game

I don't take things for granted, first of all; and when so many well-wishers are watching you, it is a motivation in itself and I want to do well for you guys and for the country. And when I go out there, I want to perform well; and I hate losing, I always want to do well.

I am not bored at all; Test cricket is all about adjustment; every day you are not going to find half volleys to hit a cover drive; the players are going to have different ideas and you have to adapt accordingly and change your game accordingly. It is not always going to run at 60 miles an hour and day in and day out you are going to drive at 60 miles an hour; it's not like that.

Every ball is going to be a different ball and you have to prepare yourself accordingly. I have just learnt to pace my innings better and sometimes you don't get the ball where you can score freely, so you just have to hang around.

On why he does not destroy the opposition anymore

Sometimes the mental frame of mind is also different and at that time one cannot forget that one is not in a good frame of mind; it is a mind game and you try to overcome most of the problems; but sometimes you go there in the middle and realize that my footwork is not good so I better not fool around and I just need to hang around and play within my limitations. So you don't end up playing as many shots, and you just want to spend as much time at the wicket. That's what I do.

On what sort of pressures he faces when he bats for India, and does he feel that if he loses his wicket it could be the end of the batting line-up

There is a fair amount of pressure not only on me but all international cricketers, because, after all, you are playing for your country and you always go out there to win. So, for that, if you are under pressure it is good, because then you don't take things for granted, and that is a very positive sign. I always feel I perform better when I am a little tense.

We have got such big names in the side; we have some senior players in the side who have performed consistently well and some very new, promising players who are excellent, like Sehwag and so many other guys, and it is a very nice blend of seniors and juniors, which makes a very good and promising side.

On whether he is evolving as a batsman

I have found ways to score runs and I think my style has changed a bit. I remember, earlier people used to say 'why do you need to hit the ball in the air so much' and when I didn't hit the ball in the air in Nagpur they asked me 'why didn't you hit the ball in the air?' I am just trying to do what is good for the team, because it is a team game and you also have to analyze the situation of the game and that is what I have been doing.

On whether he sometimes wants to run away from all the pressure and be someone else

Not really, I really enjoy what I am doing, and it is a great feeling to be out there in the middle, and millions of fans cheering for you; it is a wonderful feeling and I don't want to run away from it.

On his childhood

Sunil Harshe [friend]: I still remember there was this movie -- Guide and Sachin and myself and all of us were playing downstairs. Being a Sunday everybody was watching the movie. So we planned to steal mangoes from the mango tree. Sachin climbed on one branch and I was on the other one. When the mangoes on his branch finished, he came onto my branch and I kept telling him 'don't' since I was bulky from day one. And so I kept telling him 'don't do it, we will fall down'. He didn't listen to me and the branch broke and we fell down and that is the turning point of his career. Tthe next day his brother and his dad sent him for coaching and his cricket career started then.

He is absolutely right; it was the turning point. My brother said, 'You have been up to a lot of things, this cannot go on; you have to go and stay with your uncle and aunt at Shivaji Park', which is where I stayed for five years. The ground was very close by... and the school, so it suited me. I could spend more time on the ground. So that was the turning point.

On a typical summer day in his life, when he stayed with his uncle and aunt

I would leave my place at around 7-7:15 in the morning and I used to play cricket till 10:30, and after that I would play table tennis till 1:00 with my friends, and at about 1:30 I had to come home for lunch, because otherwise my aunt would say 'what is happening, why are you not home for lunch?' Have lunch and then go back and again play table tennis for an hour or so, 3 to 7 o'clock play cricket and then from 7 to 9:30 play table tennis again.

On how he felt when he was picked as a 16-year-old to go to Pakistan

I was too young to realize what was happening. I was only 16, which was, in a way, good for me, because we had plenty of security around and the standard of playing was completely different; the experience in the Test match was terrible. I didn't know what was happening, and the 20 -25 minutes I spent in the middle was not a pleasant experience. I thought it was my first and last game and nobody is going to pick me after that.

On his first 100 at the Old Trafford

How can I forget my first 100, this was a very special moment, where again we were again on the verge of losing that match and we had to play almost 4-5 hours. The 100 was always on my mind. I really enjoyed scoring that 100 and the most memorable point of that innings was, when I reached my 80s and I decided I would not get out in my 80's again, because I had missed my 100 in New Zealand; and I had decided that I will score a 100 and not get out and see the whole day through.

On what his goals were in Pakistan in 1989 and have they changed since

To be honest, I have never disclosed my goals. One simple thing is that every time you go out you want to score runs and win matches for India and give your best. It goes without saying and that is my goal -- that every innings I play, I play with 100 per cent concentration and dedication, and whatever I achieve it happens during that process. The idea is that every time I go out, I want to score runs and win matches for India.

On him being presented a bat by Dilip Vengsarkar

How can I forget that? I was practicing with the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team and Sandeep Patil was our coach and he called me behind the nets and said, 'Do you know this player?', and I was scared in front of Dilip Vengsarkar and I said, "Ya of course, what is his name?" So I couldn't even take his name, and he said, 'He wants to present you with this bat', and I was so confused that I couldn't even ask him for his autograph. And so Sandeep Patil said, 'Ask him to sign it so that you can score some more runs'. That was a very special moment for me and I still have that bat.

On him opening for India for the first time

I was always confident of doing well at that time, because ICC had introduced a rule that you could have two catching fielders in the first 15 overs and you could have only two fielders outside the circle. So I thought, let me take this opportunity to tell the captain and the manager, because Sidhu was not fit for that game. So I said instead of some other guy opening, please let me have this opportunity, because I feel very confident and I will do a decent job and that is how it happened. I really enjoy batting, wherever the team wants me to bat.

On how he sets himself goals and how he sets himself even higher standards

I think they are tour by tour. Yes, I do set long-term goals as well, but once you go there in the middle, the team goal becomes your goal. You cannot visualize too many things in advance. Like in Pakistan, during my first tour in Lahore, we lost two wickets in the first three or four overs, and I used to bat at number 6 and I went in to bat after tea on the second day. So for 2 days I was literally sitting. So your goals keep changing accordingly; it all depends on your team demands; nobody tells you, but you are old enough to realize what the team requires.

On whether when he does not play for India the cricket seems too easy

Not really. To be honest, in the recent past I have not been able to play too many games for Mumbai, but whenever I play, I am really charged, and I want to do my best and I want to play with all the youngsters, and they all look up to me and I can't disappoint them... and I cannot say 'you guys go ahead and perform and I will just relax'. I must take the initiative and I really enjoy that, and as cricketers we share our knowledge. I wouldn't say it is easy, but yes, there is less pressure and I can play shots that I wouldn't play in Test cricket. That is the only difference I feel between Test and First Class cricket. It is always great fun.

On how it was like to captain India, and would he do it again

To be honest, I am not really thinking about it right now. I stepped down a couple of years ago not to start thinking about it again. I just want to give myself some time, and when I am ready I will let the concerned people know of it and let it be their call then; but I have not ruled it out either.

I think all the players face some amount of insecurity. When you reach this level you just have to deal with all sorts of pressure. At one point I felt that the team needs to give more that 100 per cent to win and we need to put in that extra effort to win matches abroad. I said in a meeting that I would be upset with a particular player if he doesn't give 100 per cent; whether you fail or you perform well is immaterial; all of us are trying hard, provided the effort is 100 per cent. I will support you all the time, but if you haven't given 100 per cent, don't expect any support from me.

On why he has not been able to finish matches for India

To be very honest, I have been very disappointed with myself for not having done that for quite sometime; and I have also disappointed the fans, and I totally accept that. It is one thing that I like would to improve on -- to stay not out and come back as the victorious side in the dressing room; that is the kind of feeling that is incomparable to anything else. Looking on the other side, I have played in some innings where it has really mattered a lot, but it has not been in the fourth innings, like Australia in Chennai. I remember saying aloud in the dressing room that anyone who scores over 75 runs in the third innings of the match, it will probably be one of the most important innings of his life, so let's go ahead and do it. But I don't want to cover it up; I fully accept that I haven't been able to do it and it is something I would like to improve on.

On him doing commercials

I am pretty comfortable doing commercials now; it was a little hard earlier. I remember shooting for Boost a long time back with Kapil Dev. This was in 1990. At that time I was very stiff but now I am okay.

On whether doing so many commercials hampers cricket

I don't agree with this because these are two different issues; there is no way that what you do off the field will hamper what you do on the field. It is the same for every youngster. I think we are old enough to realize our priorities and to be very simple and straightforward. My priority is to play cricket. If I score runs and we win, I feel happy.

On how close is he to his family and how does he manage to keep up with his near and dear ones since he travels so much

It is always difficult to be with them all the time, but whenever I am touring they make it a point to come on tour and spend some time; and when I am in India and not playing cricket, then all my time is devoted to my family. My father told me that it is important to be a good human being and that will solve all your problems in life. The bottom line is that you have to be humble and good to everyone. His loss is a loss that nobody can recover; it was the lowest point in my life, and if you lose your father you lose everything.

Cricket helped in a way because it helped me divert my mind for 6 to 8 hours, but then when I returned to my hotel I would think about the same thing. Both my kids are very understanding, and every time I tell my daughter that I have to go and that I will not be back for 10 or 15 days, she always promises that she will not trouble her mom; with my son it is a little difficult because he is only two-and-a-half years old.

Anjali manages everything in the house and I am really lucky to have her as a life partner, because when I go on the cricket ground I don't have to think of anything else because I know she will handle everything to perfection.

On whether there is any shot in the book that he cannot play; and if yes, then what is it

It's not that I want to play every shot in the book; I just want to go there and enjoy my batting. If I can do that consistently then I should do a good job. What used to happen is that in my younger days we used to get only an hour to play and so all the right-handed batsmen had to bat left-handed and all the left-handed batsmen had to bat right-handed, so that we could finish the whole game, and that is how I developed my left-handed batting skills. I don't think before that I will hit a shot on this ball; it is just instinct and it is all registered in your computer. I call it the computer. Just keep your mind absolutely blank and just play the ball; you don't have to tell your mind; it happens on its own.

On what happened in the Delhi Test against Zimbabwe, and was he really shying away from Zimbabwean spinner Ray Price

I think Ray Price really bowled well in that Test match, and in the first innings it was me who was stuck at the strikers end; and it was not easy to rotate the strike consistently because there were a couple of patches on the track and two-three balls got pitched from that spot. And I said to Sourav that in my opinion I should not try anything funny at this moment; if we don't lose a wicket at this stage then we will be in a good position. And in the second innings it was S S Das who scored runs in boundaries but couldn't rotate the strike in singles. Sometimes you have to look at the other side and give credit to the bowlers.

On why he does not speak out about what should happen to Indian cricket

I have spoken quite a few things. Like when I was the captain in 1996-1997, I had made an announcement that the board should take things more seriously and that domestic cricket needs to be changed completely, and that we need to change our tracks and have tracks that support fast bowlers; and then the spinners, and that will raise the standard of the game. There have been players who have faced fast bowling for maybe 25 or 50 overs throughout the season and then they might have to come back and open the batting for India where they might have to play 30 overs in a session, of spin bowling and that is what I had said.

On whether he remembers all his dismissals

I remember most of them, if not all; 99 per cent, maybe.

On whether he is a religious person

Yes, I am a religious person. I wouldn't be waking up every morning at 6:30 to pray; but yes, before going out I would do my routine namaskar to all the gods and also my mother. I go to the temple late at night at about 12:30 so that I can get the darshan peacefully. It doesn't bather me that I have to go so late at night because it is in complete privacy and I love doing that.

- courtesy ESPN-STAR Sports