WC 2003 - The most important innings of my career: Tendulkar

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2003, 5:38 [IST]
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Centurion: Terming his knock on Saturday as the "one of the most important" of his career, Sachin Tendulkar said the fact it had come against Pakistan in a World Cup match made it "doubly special"."It was one of the most important innings of my career. That it came in the World Cup and against Pakistan makes it doubly special.

I would surely put it right up there," Tendulkar said after his masterly knock of 98 runs from 75 balls that paved the way for India's six-wicket win over archrivals Pakistan in a much-awaited match."When a game involves Pakistan, it gets bigger. It was a crucial game and all the people back home were looking forward to it. I have been hearing for a year and a half now that we are playing Pakistan on March 1. I am happy people are smiling back home," Tendulkar said.

"My wife just called me to say there is big celebration going on. We hope to continue to do well in the remaining matches for the celebrations to keep going."Tendulkar completely destroyed the celebrated Pakistani pace attack, smashing fours and sixes in a majestic display of strokeplay that completely unsettled the opposition. However, he said the assault was not planned."I just went out with a blank mind. I wanted to see the ball and hit it if I picked it early.

"I thought I was picking the line and length pretty early today. I felt very comfortable in the middle from the first over when I hit that back-foot cover drive against Wasim Akram," he said. Tendulkar said he took the first strike at the start of the Indian innings because he did not want Virender Sehwag to face up to the experience of Wasim Akram."I took the first strike because I thought I should take the initiative. Wasim is a very senior bowler and I wanted to face his bowling.

I did the same in the '99 World Cup. But it's a fact both Virender Sehwag and I are comfortable batting at number two," said Tendulkar.Tendulkar said he avoided taking the help of a runner even while struggling with a muscle pull because he didn't feel comfortable batting with a runner. "I have never used a runner before in my life. I started to get cramps, it became from bad to worse, and came to a stage when I couldn't even stand.

"I like to score my runs. The moment I hit I know how hard I have hit and for that message to go to my runner is very hard. I was trying to bat as much as I can. But I had to call for a runner when I realised I couldn't go on."But he said his dismissal was not a result of any distraction due to the presence of a runner."I don't think the presence of a runner affected my concentration.

I just got out," he said.Tendulkar denied he had been batting with extra caution in recent times and his fans have seen his best only in the last two games against England and Pakistan."I have played as I have always done. I did not bat freely against Namibia because the ball wasn't coming on to the bat. Since our batting was not doing too well I had decided to take extra responsibility." PTI

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