Wellington:Rated the greatest batsman ever by legendary all-rounder Richard Hadlee, star Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar said the accolade was a pleasant surprise for him, coming from a player of such unquestionable credentials.
Hadlee recently rated Tendulkar even higher than Don Bradman, considering the Indian's staggering success in both the long and short formats of the game.
Tendulkar said it was a rare honour, especially coming from Hadlee, one of the greatest all-rounders to have played the game ever.
"Nobody has ever said like that before. I am happy and satisfied," an elated Tendulkar said.
"This comes as a pleasant surprise and it comes from a personality whose credentials cannot be questioned. I am happy that I played with him on my first tour to New Zealand in 1989," the Indian told a leading cricket portal.
Hadlee had earlier pointed to Tendulkar's mind-boggling achievements while rating him the greatest batsman ever.
"Sir Donald Bradman has been regarded as the greatest player ever. He played just Test cricket. He hasn't played any other forms of the game. Clearly that is understandable.
"But to see Sachin and other players actually adjust to different forms of the game and different conditions all around the world, even though the average is fractionally more than half of the Don's is in itself incredible. You got to respect it," Hadlee had said.
Tendulkar recalled his first encounter with the star Kiwi player and said, "I also cherish that memory. I still remember one moment after the Napier Test. He was giving an interview in a television in which I found he made his debut in 1973. I was born in the same year, which means when he made his debut in Tests, I was just born. Yet I got the opportunity to play against him."
Even the ongoing tour, in which India won the ODI series and is on the verge of clinching the Test rubber as well, has been memorable for him, said Tendulkar.
"This is really a memorable tour for me. We won the series and got an excellent accolade from Sir Richard Hadlee," he added.
Tendulkar had no doubt that the squad under Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a "special" side which was winning regularly abroad.
"No doubt, it's a special team. The most important factor of the team is that we are winning matches regularly in foreign countries", he said.
"Previously we won only at home. Now we have started winning in Australia, West Indies, England, South Africa, Pakistan, almost in every country", Tendulkar said.
"We did not win a Test series in New Zealand in the last 41 years and the whole team had one ambition before coming here. We are happy that we are going back as winners," he said.
Asked if this would be his most memorable win, Tendulkar said, "Not really. But I am enjoying every moment of it. One gets special pleasure for anything he would get for the first time. I would be able to say proudly for the next generation that I was also a part of a team which won a Test in New Zealand."