'Playing on same pitch as Tendulkar is a challenge

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2002, 20:27 [IST]
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New Delhi: West Indian great Brian Lara said on Thursday that he was fully recovered from injury and looked forward to the challenge of playing against Sachin Tendulkar in the upcoming series against India. "Tendulkar is the best player in the world and playing cricket on the same pitch as him is a challenge," Lara told a private television channel in an interview from his home in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

The gifted left-hander, who suffered a shoulder injury on the Sri Lankan tour in January, said he was fit and raring to go in the five-Test series against the Indians from April 11. "I think it is going to be exciting," Lara said. "They love our conditions, it is going to be a tough series for us also and I would love to be part of the challenge." The battle between the two modern greats is expected to be the highlight of the demanding tour. Lara, 32, has scored 7,221 runs from 83 Tests at an average of 50.49 with 18 centuries and 34 half-centuries.

Tendulkar, who turns 29 on April 24, has 7,673 from 91 Tests at 58.57 with 28 hundreds and 30 half-centuries. The Indian is far ahead in One-day Internationals, with a world record 11,069 runs and 31 centuries from 286 matches. Lara, who has played only 193 One-dayers, has scored 7,257 runs with 14 hundreds. Before sustaining the shoulder injury, Lara showed he was back to his best form when he hammered the Muttiah Muralitharan-led Sri Lankan attack for 688 runs in just three Tests. "I thought I had turned the corner in my career," Lara said. "But because of the injury, I have to restart...

I am hoping to get back into form quickly so that I can play against India." Lara, whose record-breaking knocks of 375 in Tests and 501 not out in first-class cricket in the space of a few months in 1994 are part of cricket folklore, said Tendulkar was a joy to watch. "Records are meant to be broken and if I had to pick a person to do that now, it has to be Tendulkar. "He is the best batsman I have ever played against and a joy to watch. "I mean 11,000 runs in One-dayers and more than 7,000 in Tests.

Wow, any one will be proud of that." Lara saw a remarkable similarity with Tendulkar in the captaincy stakes with both having declined to lead their respective teams. "I spoke to Sachin about captaincy, and he appeared to have similar problems," Lara said. "None of us received the kind of support we needed from our respective Boards. "I would love to concentrate on my part of the game which is batting and leave the leadership to someone else. Until I see a change for the betterment of leadership of the West Indies, where a captain is given full support and the tools he needs to do well, I think I will stay on the sidelines."

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