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'It is Sachin Puja after Durga Puja in Kolkata'

November 05, 2013 20:11 IST

'It is Sachin Puja after Durga Puja in Kolkata'

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Former selector Raja Venkat is living the Sachin-mania in Kolkata, as the city goes gaga to give the batting legend a grand farewell.

Sachin Tendulkar will play his 199th Test, in Kolkata from Wednesday, before his final and 200th match in Mumbai next week.

The Cricket Association of Bengal has pulled out all stops to make it a huge affair by having a wax statue of Tendulkar on display, a musical tribute and a specially-designed coin for the toss, among other things, at the Eden Gardens.

Insisting that Tendulkar will be sorely missed in the Indian team, Venkat enlightens Harish Kotian why, despite such a long and successful career, the batting icon still believes in working hard in the nets and improving every day.

"I think Sachin is the most focussed cricketer you can come across. They say he keeps bettering himself every day, and it shows in his attitude.

When we visited Australia last time, during the ODI series, there was optional practice, for which 12 players had come to the ground; he was one of them. After the practice got over, all the players left, but he had one of the support staff on the bowling machine. He practiced for about 40 minutes and was absolutely middling every ball, trying to improve on his batting.

He doesn't have anything to prove to anybody, but that hunger and passion to do better every time is something amazing in him. Despite doing well for 24 years he still wants to do well and score lots of runs in every match. This is not something you see in everybody.

It is not only consistency, but he has contributed all the time. In the last two or three years there were people who were saying that he should have retired. But it is important to note that he is still not a liability to the team.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Hitesh Harsinghani/Rediff.com

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'It is Sachin Puja after Durga Puja in Kolkata'

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Sachin has set benchmark in the sport. What we have seen Sachin do in the past, or what we expect of him, he may not be able to do at this level now, but he has never been a liability to the team. His contribution has always been there. He is a terrific team man and his presence in the dressing room makes a lot of difference.

There is a different aura in him. With Sachin there, the team is solid, because you have the best batsman in the world with you.

It will make a lot of difference when we go to South Africa next month; you will feel the vacuum over there. You don't have Rahul Dravid also, so you won't be having two of your mainstays in South Africa.

When we won the World Cup in 2011, the Indian players carried him on their shoulders. Virat Kohli remarked that Sachin has carried Indian cricket for so long, so why shouldn't we carry him now!

That speaks volumes for the kind of respect his fellow-cricketers have for him.

I will go for the Kolkata match, definitely on the opening day. If you look at it, nobody wants him to retire because they all want him to play forever.

Do you know what they are all saying here? 'It is Sachin Puja after Durga Puja in Kolkata'.

I hope it is a good match and he does well."


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: BCCI

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