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September 27, 2002
The Cricket Interview/Sachin Tendulkar
'We are capable of achieving any target'
There are two of him at all times. The one who hates to make people wait, the other who loves to test the patience of bowlers on the field.
"As he steps out of the hotel elevator, I make my way through the scrum of fans asking for his autograph and request for my share of his time," says Assistant Editor Faisal Shariff. "He looks up and asks me to wait till the team's pool session -- a game of water volleyball -- ends.
Forty-five minutes later, he slips out of the water and reappears in blue denims and an orange t-shirt. In the elevator he tells me we have to keep the interview short because he has another appointment.
Confirming the next appointment he settles down on the sofa, making sure I am comfortable too.
I have the complete attention of Sachin Tendulkar, the finest batsman of our time."
Virender Sehwag seems to have made you proud with his batting.
He is someone with a special gift. I enjoy watching him all the time. He has plenty of time to play his shots. He has got tremendous body balance and he has got a terrific mind. He does not let negative thoughts affect him. He thinks positively and that is the most important thing if you are a youngster. If you watch the swing of his bat, that tells you he is out there to take you on.
Sehwag blushes everytime he is compared to you. Do you think he bats like you?
There are shades of my batting in his style. Our shots do look similar.
He said the fact that you relinquished your opening slot for him made him bat the way he does.
As long as it contributes to the success of the team I am happy. It is a learning for me to adapt to number four. I will have to play a completely different role. So far it has clicked and I hope it continues. It is good Sehwag is determined to score runs. He has got the right spot to score runs. We have found the right player who can play some big shots and scare the opposition.
Do you think one-day cricket has changed the way batsmen bat in Tests?
The game has changed. Everyone wants results. That includes the players. The batsmen look to play more shots, the bowlers are willing to be patient. The game has become faster and more aggressive.
It is a good move. I always like attacking cricket and that is good for the game. We are getting results and teams are pushing hard to win. It is a positive move. People enjoy aggression. They like to watch attacking batsmen, attacking bowlers and that is what it should all be about.
The Indian batting seems to have hit a purple patch. How do you assess this side?
This lot is certainly very, very talented. All the players are above average. Everyone is talented and at the same time no one is taking things for granted. Everyone is working hard and the trainer has helped us a lot.
It has made the team mentally tougher. I think when you start winning you carry the confidence to the next game. Now we are capable of achieving any target. The victory at Lord's has helped us and it set the tone. We have just followed on that path.
With the win over England in Colombo the team proved it was not a fluke to win at Lord's.
Nothing is a fluke. The players still have to go and score the runs and pick those wickets.
The unity in the team is great. The seniors and juniors share a good rapport.
We were always together. Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and I have played cricket together for a long time. When you play away from your family all the time you realize this is your second family. The atmosphere is extremely good. We can sit around and talk whatever we want. The senior member can go to the junior most in the team and say anything he wants or crack a joke. It is a very easy environment. The juniors respect the seniors and the seniors care for the juniors. That is a terrific relationship.
With this level of unity among the players, is it time for a players association?
It is time for that. We have thought of something like that. It is not that we want to fight with anyone. We would like to bridge the communication gap that has taken place between the players and the Board. If there is someone who can be there on behalf of the players then the players can concentrate on the game. This has happened to all the countries. We are not the only country. It is just a professional route to go about it.
What is the legacy you wish to leave behind?
Just a few principles that I follow in my life:
Keep it very simple.
Don't complicate things. Life can get very complicated if you let it.
Just go out and try. If one loves the game, you will play hard.
Be honest and sincere in whatever you try.
If you succeed, great. If you don't, you were not meant to be but at least you have the satisfaction that you tried your best.
What have you given to Indian cricket?
I have not thought about it. It is hard for me to answer that one. Some other players should talk about it. I can't say what I have done.
What do you think of Nasser Hussain's statement that India should have won in England instead of being satisfied with the drawn series? He said despite giving India flat tracks their batsmen failed to win the series.
I don't think so. Firstly, they didn't give us flat tracks. Only Lord's was flat. The other tracks had life in them. Nottingham and Headingley for sure. Headingley had plenty of life, inconsistent bounce. He has to appreciate that we batted very well at Headingley where it seamed and bounced, kicked off the seam, swung, turned. Everything happened. We beat them in India, leveled the one-day series in India, won the one-day series in England and drew the Test series in England, so they have not managed to beat us anywhere. Neither in England or India. I don't know what he is talking about.
There was a huge debate about your lean trot in the West Indies and the early part of the Test series in England. Did you feel let down by the Indian media? Did it hurt that you have to prove yourself even after playing so much cricket?
Not really. I didn't need to try and prove myself because two, three guys are talking about this. I don't need to go to that extent. After playing 95, 96 Tests if I have to prove myself it is funny. I realize what I am doing and where I am making mistakes. Before writing they also know what is happening. But they still want to write because they want something interesting. I think it is part and parcel of a sportsman's life. I am always on my toes thinking about what I did wrong, why something is not working for me. I feel if I am honest I don't need to worry about what people write. If that were the case, I would not have played 100 Tests.
Do you ever read match reports?
I have never read a single match report or newspapers when I am playing. I read a little bit but never went looking for it. I always keep my distance from reports.
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