Even the highly accomplished Sachin Tendulkar cannot pack in all the factors that went into his unprecedented feat of 100 international centuries in a 55-minute media interaction. But he did well to play a cameo of sorts wherein he hit a few vocal boundaries, indulged in deft deflections, one-liners and also willingly agreed for an extension of play (the original period was 30 minutes). In short, he enjoyed the bowling, the challenges and left a few dangerous balls alone while wife Anjali listened to him.
At a media interaction organised by his agents, World Sport Group for select mediapersons at a suburban hotel yesterday, Tendulkar spoke on his recent high, disappointments and the people who contributed to his much-celebrated 23-year international career. Welcome to the highlights:
Coach Achrekar's words of wisdom
I remember my coach (Ramakant Achrekar) telling me when I was a kid, that this game can get cruel at times so don't worry and everyone goes through these patches.
When you are doing well, you don't question yourself as to why are these things happening to me. Even a bad phase will pass by. Nothing will stay permanent and you will overcome all obstacles. In my schooldays, I learnt a lot -- above all, to respect the game.
Ducking Fraser's bouncer
I remember during my first hundred (against England at Old Trafford, Manchester in 1990), when I was on 87 or 88, Angus Fraser bowled me a bouncer which I ducked. The ball hit the back of my bat and it went to fine leg. I said to myself that I am glad that this didn't go to the wicketkeeper. The previous one (century) which I missed in New Zealand was on my mind and I didn't want to miss my first hundred. Before going into bat, I just wanted to stay not out.
New obstacle at Old Trafford
The tougher obstacle after the hundred was when Madhav Mantri, our manager told me that there would be a press conference.
Now, I had not attended a single press conference so I did not know what to expect. I asked Sir, kay honar (what will happen?) and what will they (media) do; why do we need to do all this? And, Sir said, 'don't worry, I will be there with you.' I look back now and feel it has been a fantastic journey.
Mark of a man
It was a big moment for me when I signed WorldTel -- Mark Mascarenhas in 1995. We went on to become good friends. Unfortunately, we lost Mark in 2002 when England were playing in India.
That was a huge blow, not because I lost my manager, but because I lost my friend, who understood how I operated; how my family operated and never pressurised me to do advertisements when a series was on. When it was cricket time, it was only cricket. I clearly remember him telling me, 'you only worry about scoring runs; don't worry about anything else... that is my problem.' He gave me complete freedom.
Wright was right
In 2003, John Wright (then India coach) told me that you should become the first player in the history of the game to score 100 international hundreds.
The coach's job is to give players a high and make sure that they are in the frame of mind to go out and deliver. Possibly, John was looking to do that.
The 100th hundred...
I thought I started off really well and there was a stage where I felt the ball was coming on a bit slower than I would have liked. I had a partnership with Virat and we kept discussing what would be a good total on this surface. We felt 275 or 280 was a good one. I had connected three shots in that over and all three went to the fielder.
I told Virat, on a good day when all is going well for you, those are three boundaries. That is what this game teaches you -- one day you can edge one for four and on some days when you are batting well, there could be three boundaries stopped in an over. After that over, I told Virat that this is an unbelievable game and one is a student -- everyday you learn so many things.
The wicket was a bit on the slower side and we were constantly keeping an eye on the run rate we were maintaining. It became critical to have wickets in hand. We managed to do that. At the same time, there were spells when they really bowled well. I remember Mashrafe Mortaza bowling a maiden over to me in the Powerplay.
Sachin touched by gestures
Sachin Tendulkar said yesterday that though it was hard to ward off thoughts of his landmark hundred over the last one year, he was grateful to people's best wishes and prayers. He was touched.
"After I got my 100th hundred, Anjali told me that many of my friends went walking to Siddhivinayak Temple before I got there (to the landmark). A couple of senior people were praying for me in a dargah and various spots like the Mangeshi Temple in Goa. People do it because they want me to achieve a goal. I value and appreciate that; it stays in your mind," he said.
Talking about temples, Tendulkar recalled his visits to one at Shivaji Park during his formative years. "There is this Ganpati Mandir at Shivaji Park and during our breaks, whenever I felt thirsty, I would go there and drink water from the tap. I used to always feel that it is a kind of blessing, a kind of positive energy going through my body and this is going to give me strength to go out and perform," he said.