Mumbai: After winning the World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar said he had achieved the one thing he had dreamt about when he started playing cricket. But he may not hang up his boots just yet. When asked about his retirement, Tendulkar deflected the question initially, before saying he saw no reason to change things as he was still enjoying the game.
"This is a moment to celebrate, not one to think about my future," Tendulkar told the ICC. "This is the reason I started playing cricket; to do something for the country. The process has been a long one, and I am still enjoying my game, so I don't see the reason to change anything."
Gary Kirsten, for whom the World Cup final was his last game as coach of India, also said he didn't think Tendulkar would stop here. "Sachin is the greatest sporting role model I've met in my life," Kirsten said. "He's had an incredible last three or four years, and he's enjoying his cricket even more. I don't think he is going to stop."
Tendulkar has had to wait till his sixth World Cup campaign to win the trophy, and when asked whether this was the final accolade he needed to complete his closet-full of achievements, he said it was in fact the first thing he wanted to achieve.
"As a young boy I dreamt of winning this trophy; that's where it all started. This is by far the best moment and it's the one I've been waiting for for 24 years. There have been heart-breaking losses; in past campaigns we lost in the semi-finals and finals. I never gave up because this was my dream and now the team has managed to win this cup for the nation."
After their victory on Saturday, the Indian team spent the night celebrating with their families and friends before going to Raj Bhavan on Sunday to meet the Indian president. But what Tendulkar is looking forward to is sharing the experience with the Indian public.
"The victory hasn't sunk in yet because I haven't faced the general crowd outside. I've just mingled around with my friends and family. We've been in a close unit behind a wall of security. We haven't had a chance to experience or share our joy with everyone else. That's a reaction I'm really looking forward to because I can imagine what it would be like. All I've seen is their reactions on the news channels and it's absolutely fascinating."
India have now achieved the two things Kirsten had planned on during his tenure as coach: winning the World Cup and attaining the No. 1 ranking in Tests, but he gave all the credit to his team.
"The players are the ones who have had to deal with the pressure and expectations," he said. "They've prepared hard and when they've had to make the plays and make the contributions under pressure they've done that."
The final at the Wankhede Stadium started with an odd incident where the toss had to be redone because the match referee had not heard Kumar Sangakkara's call. Dhoni thought he had won the toss initially, but Kirsten said they weren't too worried anyway.
"I didn't hear too much about what happened at the toss, but we just got on with it because we had already spoken about how we would face obstacles in the final. We would have batted first, but we felt confident after the Australia chase that it didn't matter whether we won or lost the toss. We would have liked to bat first and put up a big total, but cometh the hour cometh the man, and MS Dhoni left his big knock of the World Cup for the final."
While Dhoni, Tendulkar and Man-of-the-Tournament Yuvraj Singh have been the centre of attention after the win, India's campaign has had several heroes. Zaheer Khan finished as the joint-leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 21 scalps, and though his figures on Saturday were marred by an expensive last two overs, Kirsten acknowledged his opening spell of 5-3-6-1 played a key role in restricting Sri Lanka to a chaseable target.
"Zak's early spell was what kept them down to 270 despite a strong finish by them. We kept them anchored in their innings; they couldn't really get going. [Mahela] Jayawardene's incredible knock gave them some momentum and they did well to get to where they did. But we felt 270 was very gettable."
There has been much speculation about what Kirsten will do next, but, though he acknowledged he had been approached about the position of coach of the South African side, he said he would take a month or two off before making any decisions.
"I'm going to take some time off and spend some time with my family who haven't seen me in a while, and I'll decide on my future after one or two months. South Africa have approached me, but I've told them I'm not going to make any decisions just yet. I'm going to clear my mind for a while after this magnificent journey."