Cricket means everything to me, says Sachin

Published: Saturday, April 10, 2004, 21:25 [IST]
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Multan:Sachin Tendulkar goes into the three-Test series against Pakistan determined to leave his mark in a country where he took his first tentative steps in world cricket.

When Tendulkar made his Test debut as a 16-year-old in Karachi in 1989 on India's last Test tour of Pakistan Mikhail Gorbachev still ruled the Soviet Union and Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan's Prime Minister, while Rajiv Gandhi had just been ousted by his long-time ally Vishwanath Pratap Singh in India.

"It may have been a long time ago, but I can recollect every day of that tour," said Tendulkar, 30, now the senior statesman of world cricket.

He has played more Tests and One-dayers - and scored more runs and centuries - than anyone still playing international cricket.

Tendulkar's 9,265 runs from 111 Tests place him fourth in the all-time scorers' list behind Australians Allan Border and Steve Waugh and India's Sunil Gavaskar.

His 32 Test centuries are at par with the retired Waugh and just two behind fellow Mumbai citizen Gavaskar.

"This series means a lot, but it is not different from any other," said Tendulkar ahead of the first Test starting at the Multan cricket stadium on Sunday.

"I just want to go out there and keep it simple. Watch every ball and not bother about the result."

Tendulkar is the only player from either side to have experienced the atmosphere of an India-Pakistan Test on Pakistani soil.

The just-concluded One-day series, which India won 3-2 in thrilling fashion, helped Tendulkar notice a change in the attitude of Pakistani fans.

"On that 1989 tour there were a few ugly incidents like when a man ran onto the field in the Karachi Test and accosted our captain Kris Srikkanth," he said.

"But this time the crowds everywhere have been just fantastic. They have supported the good cricket the two teams played in the One-dayers and I think it will be the same in Tests as well."

Tendulkar was moved by the standing ovation he received from Rawalpindi fans when he scored his 37th One-day hundred.

"It may be a bit special when you are playing against Pakistan because everyone is talking about it," he said.

"But as far as I am concerned, I am playing for India and it does not matter whom we are playing. I don't fool around on the ground and give my best for the six hours I am on the field. The expectation of people is higher against Pakistan, but eventually all you are doing in playing cricket."

Tendulkar hopes to continue the good work of the One-dayers in the Tests against a team he says may be lacking in experience but is as competitive as any.

"The Pakistan team in 1989 had more experienced players like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram," he said. "The current team is younger in comparison but very competitive as the One-dayers showed."

Tendulkar said he himself was content with what he had achieved so far.

"I am very happy with my life," he said.

"It has been wonderful playing for India. Cricket means everything to me. Plenty of other things have happened around that like promoting various products, but cricket remains right up there. The rest is secondary. As long as I am playing well for India I am happy. It has been a tremendous journey so far and I don't want that to end yet."

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