Friday, November 13, 2009

"Dark chapters should remain closed"

As Tendulkar completes his 20 years in the game, the Indian batting maestro says that 'dark chapters' should remain closed.

"That's a dark chapter and I don't want to reiterate on that on this occasion," he told a packed media meet.

"I (would) thought something which was fascinating. The series that we played against Australia (2000-01 which India won 2-1 coming from behind) immediately after that.
"It was a three-Test series and five ODIs. The Test series got over in the final half an hour (in Chennai which India won to clinch the rubber). Also the one-day series was decided literally in the last 30 or 35 minutes.

"All these were instrumental in bringing back the crowds to the stadiums and we as a team performed really well in that series and we sort of started a new chapter, something that I was looking forward to. The closed chapter, better to keep it closed," he said.

The match-fix saga had an impact on Indian cricket also as life bans were imposed Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma by the Cricket Board in the wake of the CBI report on the scandal. Five-year bans were handed to Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar as well.

Fondly remembering his on-field battle against Australian spin-legend Shane Warne, Tendulkar revealed how he prepared himself for the intriguing contest.

"In my previous nine years in international cricket I had never faced a leg spinner bowling from round the wicket and in 1998 I prepared myself by asking my Mumbai Ranji Trophy colleagues to bowl round the wicket into the rough.

"In Chennai I asked Siva (Laxman Sivaramakrishnan) to do the same. All these things helped in me getting used to these angles," he said.

Tendulkar was so dominant while batting against Warne that the Australian later wrote that he was having nightmares of the Indian batting great hitting him all around the park.

Tendulkar also remembered how a stiff neck suffered by opener Navjot Singh Sidhu on the tour of New Zealand in 1994 was instrumental in him becoming an opener in the ODI format.

"I was vice captain of the team and I asked Azhar (the captain) and (cricket manager) Ajit Wadekar to give me one chance to open and then I would not ask them again if I failed," he recalled.

Tendulkar hit a quick-fire 82 while opening with Ajay Jadeja.
"It helped me grow as a cricketer, to go out and face the new ball," he added.
"I was confident I could play shots in the first 15 overs. To do that you have to move quickly into the right position," Tendulkar said.

"Those days in the first few overs one would look to try and not lose wickets and then accelerate. Overall I would say it helped my game because in one-dayers I was facing the new ball and in Tests batting at number four. The balance was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed opening the innings as well as batting and at number four."
Asked about his unsuccessful two stints as captain, Tendulkar said he had ups and downs in the job like other phases of life but he had no regrets or complaints.
"Captaining the country is a great honour and there were some wonderful moments when I was the captain. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Test victory as captain against Australia at Delhi which was a memorable one," Tendulkar remarked.

"We won the Titan Cup in India where the two toughest opposition were there South Africa and Australia and then Toronto against Pakistan in the Sahara Cup. There were highs and lows."

"There were many occasions when we came close to winning but just couldn't cross that final hurdle. It was a package of highs and lows and disappointments here and there but I had no regrets, no complaints," he explained.

"I thoroughly enjoyed whatever has happened in my life and if you look at the broader picture there have been ups and downs. All these have been part of my career," he added.

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