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The Rediff Cricket Interview/Sachin Tendulkar

April 21, 2004

Part I: 'I waited a long time for this win'

In the second part of Sachin Tendulkar's exclusive interview with Assistant Editor Faisal Shariff, the master batsman analyses his career thus far, provides a peek into his batting strategy and talks about his four-year-old son Arjun. 

How would you rate this period in your career?

I have never really thought about it. It is very difficult. During the World Cup I was feeling very good. I wouldn't say its been great. Of course, I came close to scoring double centuries in a row, but it's been good, not great. I hope I get another opportunity to say this was a great phase. 1998 was the greatest phase in my career; when Australia was here [in India] and we beat them.

How do you break up your innings?

I have never had one set formula. I keep changing my stance and my formula. Sometimes ten runs; sometimes I concentrate on every ball. In Chennai when I made 136 [against Pakistan, 1998/99 series], I concentrated on every ball. Whether I was striker or non-striker, I was concentrating on every ball. All through the innings I was on the ball. I don't think I have ever concentrated so hard. I kept thinking I was facing every ball and if I was batting what would I do with the ball. I felt that I was facing every ball.

What was your plan during the World Cup?

For the first two overs I will have a look. Sometimes I will see it [the ball] and hit it. Sometimes, first run and then after that I will break it up into four, five runs. At that moment, whatever I feel like doing I do it.

In the Pakistan game, I was not supposed to go after the Pakistan bowling attack. The earlier plan was to keep wickets intact because the Pakistanis would come hard at us. When we went there we were striking the ball well and after three overs we were 35 to 40-odd runs. We made plans but then you go out and the situation is completely different.

What has been your contribution to the side as a senior player?

I think my main contribution is in talking to individuals and keeping it between us. I am not a part of the selection process. There is a tour committee that picks the final eleven and I am invited for that. I believe it is very important to build up individuals because that is the genesis of a good team. Good individuals make a good team. It is very important to be fair to youngsters and give them a good opportunity.

Does your son Arjun play cricket? Do you play cricket with him?

Yes, I do and it's fun. Arjun is left-handed and enjoys batting, but I have never forced him. He's only four and it is his time to enjoy, play in the mud and have a great time. This is the only age when you live without any pressure on you.

What is different since you have become a father?

I have changed a lot, but only off the field. It has made me more patient off the field. I have learnt to deal with that. But my children are the most precious people in my life. But cricket still remains most important to me. It is hard to imagine life without cricket. I've been playing cricket 40 to 45 per cent of my life.

Do you talk cricket at home?

Not really, but I've been asked by my wife to get all the jersey numbers of the one-day players. Arjun keeps asking her and no one in the house has a clue. Who thinks about these things? But I am making a list for him.

Set targets?

I have targets, but I just go out and bat. It is there in my subconscious mind, but I don't get weighed down by them. I just enjoy the game.

Do injuries worry you?

Injuries worry me a little bit. I have had big injuries. My back injury was bad and it still keeps troubling me. My toe was bad and so was my finger, which I got operated. But little niggles here and there are always there. It's a part of my life. There is going to be wear and tear after 14 to 15 years of international cricket and the number of games I have played. But how I handle that is very important. I am thinking of ways to deal with it. When I'm running a lot my toe hurts.

You think you should pick and choose your matches so you can prolong your career?

I'm only 31. At least, at this stage, I have not thought about that. The only goal now would be to work on my fitness and try and stay away from injuries. But the kind of injuries I've got has noting to do with fitness. Back injuries, toe injury and calcification are not due to fitness. Toe and finger injuries are freakish injuries. Overall, I have been very conscious about fitness.

Specialist openers?

A specialist opener is important and so is a specialist wicketkeeper; but there are times and exceptions when you have to take a gamble and go ahead with it.

You think Akash Chopra was given a raw deal? He will probably walk out to bat from here on as if he is on trial.

Akash is a very mature guy; surely one of the best openers I have seen in the recent past from India. He did a magnificent job in Australia. I think we did well in Australia because we had important opening partnerships, and he was part of those partnerships. I was really impressed with the way he batted in Australia. He was chatting with me in Australia and I told him that he was batting very nicely and consistently. He didn't put up big scores, but sometimes forties are as valuable as hundreds.

Do you regret giving up the captaincy in 1999? Had you stayed on you would have had a young bunch to work with and take the team ahead.

There is no point thinking about those things. You can't change the past. Whatever the given resources I had was with what I made my decision. I took my decision after thinking about all that. I don't have any regrets about if I had been there I would have done this or would have done something differently. There is no point thinking about what's not there. I am absolutely happy. Whether I am captain or someone else all we want is India to win. Individuals will never win a game; it is a team that wins and it is a team that loses a game. I am not missing anything and I'm as excited as I was when we won the Titan Cup when I was captain. That's what matters. Captaincy is there, it may not be there tomorrow.

Photograph: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Design: Imran Shaikh

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