INTERVIEW: Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin at MCG to support Team India.
Sachin at MCG to support Team India.

Cricket World Cup 2015 brand ambassador Sachin Tendulkar Monday predicted that the 14-nation tournament will be even more competitive as it progresses after the first 10 days produced exciting and entertaining cricket.

Talking on the sidelines of India-South Africa match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG Sunday, the former Indian batting superstar advised the sides and the players to find and maintain the right balance so that they remain fresh and ready for the big matches ahead.

“It’s been exciting. You’ve already seen a couple of surprises. The teams have played competitive cricket. The standard has been good, and that is what people want to witness. I feel as the tournament progresses it’s going to produce some fantastic cricket and we’re looking forward to it,” Tendulkar said in a International Cricket Council (ICC) release.

“To have the same successful combination going all the way is going to be the key and to find that balance between staying fresh and not overburdening yourself with additional practice sessions. You just need to find that right balance.”

Tendulkar, who is the record-holder for most runs and hundreds in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), said the 50-over games were now producing more runs and centuries due to changes in playing conditions as well as the emergence of the Twenty20 format.

“We’ve been witnessing high-scoring games because of two reasons. One is because the rule has changed. There is one less fielder outside the circle. So, that makes a huge difference. That becomes difficult for bowlers to consistently find those areas to work,” Tendulkar, who was the player of the World Cup 2003, said.

“The second point is also the introduction of T20 format, which has allowed the batters to play more risky shots, play innovative shots, and the guys regularly practice these shots in the nets.”

The 41-year-old said current teams are not afraid of chasing targets requiring eight runs per over.

“How many times in the ‘80s or ‘90s did you see someone playing a reverse sweep off a fast bowler, which happens in today’s cricket? If batsmen have to chase at eight runs an over, it’s not something beyond their reach, because in T20 you play 20 overs with asking run-rate sometimes of nine or even more than that,” he pointed out.

“So it’s just the mental set-up and the belief that even if it goes to nine runs and over, we can still hit that target,” said the India icon who retired from cricket in November 2013.”

Speaking about his journey as a 14-year-old ball boy to World Cup ambassador and the experience of not being involved in an ICC Cricket World Cup as a player for the first time in 23 years, Tendulkar said: “First of all, I’d like to thank ICC for nominating my name as ambassador of the World Cup 2011 and 2015.”

“I remember I was a 14-year-old boy and I was sitting outside the dressing room as a ball boy in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987. So, from there to become the ambassador of the World Cup is a special journey and I’m excited,” he added.

“This is a new experience to me where I’m watching a World Cup match from the stands. The atmosphere is fantastic. Absolutely, it is something that I have experienced but not sitting in the stands. I was always on the other side of the fence. To be sitting in the stands and to feel this atmosphere is incredible.”

Despite being the ambassador, Tendulkar said he will follow his heart and will support his countrymen during the tournament.

“Being a World Cup ambassador I’m supposed to be neutral. But my heart says something and my brain says something. So, I’ve got to stick to my heart and support India.”