Rahul played an important role, says modest Sachin

Published: Friday, July 5, 2002, 22:16 [IST]
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Chester-Le-Street: Despite being a nightmare for bowlers the world over, maestro Sachin Tendulkar seemed mighty relieved after scoring his first One-day hundred in 13 years against England at Riverside Ground on Thursday.

Tendulkar said the reason why he couldn't score a hundred against England before was only because he had played so few games against them in all these years. "I have played only 20 games against them. It has been just one of those things. I have got close to a hundred before but somehow I missed it. Now that I have got it, hopefully, I will go out and get some more," he said. Tendulkar gave credit to Rahul Dravid not only for his role in the 169-run partnership for the fourth wicket but also for the way he took the lead in the initial stage of the partnership. "I think Rahul played an important role.

He came out and batted very positively. He kept rotating the strike well. He was hitting boundaries and that really helped me," he said. Tendulkar was also effusive in his praise for young Yuvraj Singh but said the youngster must be left alone to enjoy and develop his game at this stage of his career. "He is a tremendously talented youngster. He is one of the hardest hitters I have ever seen. I think he has done a terrific job in the last three games." "Still I don't want to put pressure on him. He has done a good job and let's leave him alone. Let him do his job and enjoy his cricket and not put pressure on him for the next four games," the star batsman said.

Tendulkar said both he and Dravid had decided to go after the bowling once they had crossed their fifties. "Initially, I wasn't striking the ball well so I just gave myself some opportunity. We both had decided that once we reach our fifties, we are going to strike the ball harder. That's when I started connecting the ball better," Tendulkar explained. Tendulkar took pains to explain that his assault on Giles was not because the left- arm spinner had given him such a hard time when England toured India early this year. "I think it (the rivalry) has been hyped up a bit. I am just treating him as one of their bowlers. He has done well in the past, that doesn't mean he is to go out and bowl well everyday," he said.

"I thought I played some decent shots against them but I don't want to take things for granted. He has done well in the past and he has the ability to hit back. I would like to be on my toes," he said. Tendulkar said despite his hundred, it would be wrong to suggest his job has shifted from setting up to finishing off a game. "It is not that only I am there to finish off the game at number four, there are also other batsmen in the middle order." The little master, of course was, disappointed that the match was abandoned because of rain. "It was a little disappointing because we had put up a big total and we were in a good position." Tendulkar said he didn't come out to field in the curtailed England innings because his hamstring was a bit stiff.

Team coach John Wright was similarly effusive about the way Tendulkar played on Thursday. "I think we are looking probably a bit strong unit because of the way Tendulkar played. It was good for him and it was good for us." "I think a few of the things we planned in batting is beginning to take shape. He is happy to bat at number four. We lacked a little bit of experience in the middle. He is a special player because he can play both types of game," Wright said. "I think it is a challenge for him at the moment, the way he thinks about batting.

I think the great thing about his knock was he was thinking about the batting and getting his runs. It is different in some respects than when he opened. Wright was also disappointed the game didn't end the way it should have for the Indians. "In some way, we were robbed of four points on Thursday."

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