Here is the second part of Part IV
Q: Can you talk us through the experiences of your first hundred and the 100th ton?
Tendulkar: I remember during my first hundred, I went in to bat when the team was 118 for 4 and I went into bat when the senior players had all got out and the only thing that I had in my mind was I should stay not out. I managed to string a good partnership with Manoj Prabhakar and I had to be careful in my shot selection that day. At the same time I was prepared to put the bad balls away. I was there with an open mind.
I remember when I was batting on 87 or 88, I ducked into a bouncer from Angus Fraser and the ball hit the back of the bat and flew to fine leg. I was glad it didn"t go to the keeper or lob to nay other fielder. The hundred that I missed in New Zealand was on my mind and I didn"t want to miss my first hundred. After the hundred, Madhav Mantri, who was our manager at that time came and told me I had to address a press conference.
I was confused as I hadn"t attended a press conference and was very scared. He told me not to worry and he would be there with me. I didn"t look back after that and it"s been a fantastic journey.
The 100th hundred of course I started off really well and then I felt the ball was coming off the track a bit slower than I would have liked. And during my partnership with Virat we both kept discussing what would be a good target and we both thought 275-280 would be a good total as that wicket wasn"t like the one on which the earlier game had been played.
We were constantly keeping an eye on the run rate that we were maintaining and it became critical to have wickets in hand. I was patient and just focused on building partnerships. At the same time there were spells during which they really bowled well. I remember Mashrafe mortaza bowled a maiden to me in the powerplay.
I had connected three good shots in that over and all three went to the fielder. And I told Virat and thought to myself, on a good day, those are three boundaries. That is what this game teaches you. Sometimes you can edge between slips for a four and when you are batting well, three potential boundaries could get stopped.
It"s an unbelievable game. You just have to remain a student and learn so many things. When I go to my hundred, the reaction was when I looked at the bat and looked upwards toward God and said, “It"s been a tough time for me". Why? Where did I lack in my commitment?
Finally it had happened and I was really thrilled and I looked at the dressing room and I pointed my bat to the players and also to the Indian flag that I have on my helmet. This is what I have done for the nation and everyone has been part of it.
Q: Can you describe the pressure of the last one year and the passion that you"ve played with for the last 23 years?
Tendulkar: 100 hundreds wasn"t my purpose. To win the World Cup was. I don"t regularly follow what people are saying about me. Because I feel I should have a clear mind whikle making those decisions and hence I shouldn"t be thinking about what x, y, z are talking. I"m not in the Indian team to prove people wrong. I play this game, because I love playing this game. Nobody forced me into it and it"s my choice. There are going to be opinions.Whatever I do and whatever number of years that I play, there are going to be opinions. But they may not be always correct.
I take notice of something that is said that can make me a better player and not of someone who is passing his judgment by watching tv. That person doesn"t know what"s happening with my mind or what"s happening with my body. I"m the one who knows about it. Only I know whether I"m motivated enough or passionate enough to be a part of the game. I kept telling myself I need to enjoy the game. If I"m not enjoying the challenges associated with the game, then it doesn"t work.
That was one thing on mind, but people do read newspapers, people around you read newspapers. My friends don"t discuss these things and the same holds true for my family. They also understand that to perform to the best of my ability I need a clear mind. My mind cannot be occupied with all these thoughts. There"s an unwritten rule that no one discusses what"s happening (in the media). But when you meet people in a flight, reception of a hotel or room service, they tell you in a good way that we are praying for you to score a hundred today. How do you escape that? You have no choice, but to appreciate and acknowledge every little effort that they have made. After my hundreth century, my wife, Anjali told me that many of my friends had gone walking to Siddhivinayak before the tour.
A couple of senior citizens had also prayed for me at a dargah. People do it because they want me to achieve the goal. (100 hundreds). As much as I value and appreciate that, it stays in your mind. Thankfully as he told all this after I had scored my hundred.
Q: Sachin, you got 15474 runs. The chunk between 13000 and 14000 was your fastest, you were 37 then. You are talking of an age where athletes actually fight their age, fitness and all sort of issues. Can you describe the challenges of reinventing yourself?
Tendulkar: It is about enjoyment, it is about feeling motivated enough, it is about the desire to deliver and how passionate I feel about the game. I am madly in love with the sport. At this stage, I enjoy every little moment. I know it is a different body from what it was 20 years ago and that is never to be going be the same, not only for me but all of us.
But possibly what a 17-year-old mind could not do, a 37-year-old mind could do, so somewhere it balances out. It depends on how you see it, whether you see the glass half empty or half full, I see the glass as half full. That has helped me. I always looked at the positive side. I have not been much vocal but the aggression need not always be vocal but the aggression can be within. If you look in the bowler"s mind he will know whether you are aggressive enough or not. Sometimes it can be your body language, maybe in the way you just leave the ball. And then the way you respond to the bowler, the eye to eye contact, that conveys lot of things. I believe in that.
Also when you are doing well, when you are putting in a lot of hard work and you see the results, it helps. It helps to push your training sessions and also on-field net sessions and off-field gym sessions and take that to a new level. I have done that and I remember two years ago when we went to New Zealand the first two games were T20 matches.
I was not part of the squad but I requested the BCCI that I will go with the team and practice there because I felt I can be there, I can get acclimatised and practice. While I was not part of the squad, the whole team was practicing in the nets, I was working whole time on the bowling machine. The number of hours the whole team had practiced, I had batted along side on the bowling machine and I enjoyed. I must have hit close to 800-900 or 1000 balls maybe and that was just one session. I did a few sessions like that and I enjoyed.
You don"t know worry about opinions but there is a point of view out there that believes that it is silly to combine Test and ODI hundreds so the pressure should not have been put on you in the first place. Do you also believe that there is such a category like a hundred hundreds? And have you also disturbed by India"s form overseas in Test cricket? While the whole of India is celebrating what you have achieved, it is one of India"s worst performances overseas in Test cricket since you started playing.
Q: People are fascinated by this number game. So how does one keep that aside?
Tendulkar: I remember a long time ago, in 2003, John Wright had told me that you should be the first player to score international 100 hundreds and that was way back, during the 2003 World Cup. We used to have many chats and this was one during one of the chats this is what he had told me, just to push me. The coach"s job is to give the players" that high and make sure that they are in the frame of mind to deliver and possibly John was looking to do that.
Yes it has been a tough phase for all of us in Test cricket. That is something we need to definitely look at. I felt the conditions were different, they were different for sure. What you personally call the home advantage, I felt the teams played good cricket. England were wanting to get to No. 1 spot and Australia were also looking a good side.
If you look at the Australian series, in every Test there was just one partnership which changed the game other wise the records were more or less the same. In the Pert Test match, their first partnership was 178 runs, if you give them the average partnership of the series which was less than 20 runs, then Australian team in the first innings instead of getting to 320 or 330 they would have had a score of 170 and we were 158. So 12 runs lead, you think differently and the whole game changes.
Similar thing happened in Sydney and then in Melbourne, where they were 24 for four and then there was a partnership in the second innings. So if you see in all the matches, these partnerships have hurt us. Obviously we were not able to put up a big score on the board but the surfaces were slightly different. So if you remove that one partnership from every match, more or less the scores are the same. And that is going to happen. If we win then there would have been a big partnership from our team, but that didn"t happen.
Also Read: Tendulkar's Interview Part III IV