Retired batting great Sachin Tendulkar is optimistic about the chances of the under-performing Indian team successfully defending its World Cup crown next year, and wants the fans to lend it a whole-hearted support.
"I have no hesitation in saying we are a talented side and there are some special players in the team. I know that they have not been able to produce the kind of results or rather live up to the expectation of the people, but things can change," the cricket legend said in Mumbai.
"This is the time that I feel the team requires support. When you are winning, you are in a good frame of mind but when you are not winning and when you know a billion people are behind you, with you, the mindset changes immediately. That is the need of the hour."
"I have full confidence in our team. I am sure we will have a good time," said Tendulkar at the launch of the special edition of silver coins with his face, name and signature embossed on them.
Of late, the Indian team has struggled with form, losing two ODI series against South Africa (lost 3-match series 0-2)and New Zealand (lost 5-match series 0-4) and failed to qualify for the final of the recently-held Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
The batting great, who was a part of the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led squad that emerged triumphant in cricket's show-piece event in 2011 at home, recalled how the Indian team had struggled before finishing runners-up to Australia in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
"I remember in 2003, the New Zealand tour before we got to the finals (of World Cup) wasn't a great one for us. We went to South Africa and there were some matches that we lost. And then we all started thinking that we need to plan differently, play differently and it worked for us," said Tendulkar.
"It is not about just the failures but the journey from failure to success and getting into the habit of winning, the things you are supposed to do. If you follow that process, the result takes care of itself. We just followed that process and we were able to get to the finals," he said.
Tendulkar said he shared a good rapport with the youngsters in the team later in his career when he was its senior statesman.
"I used to jokingly tell them you should wish me good morning sir. We shared a wonderful relationship. They all treated me like their elder brother. It was never a one-way traffic. I told them you have fun with me also. I used to pull their leg and they had the freedom to pull my leg. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with all the youngsters," he said.
Tendulkar, the only player to score 100 international centuries during his 24-year career, conceded that scoring the last ton, after an agonising wait was tough due to the expectation and mounting pressure from all quarters.
"(For the) first century there were no expectations and people were enjoying my batting. Even from my side I didn't know that there were 99 hundreds to follow. When I scored my 100th hundred, it obviously took a while.
"So many times I got close to scoring the hundred and so many had written articles that I have to do this and that, not knowing that I have 99 (tons) behind me. So it is tricky as I felt both were important. Pressure of scoring the 100th hundred was hundred times more," he said.
According to the 40-year-old more than scoring centuries, contributing to the team's success was far more important.
"Scoring 100 hundreds was something that I never thought, I just wanted to go and bat for India and win matches. I remember one game against Sri Lanka at Cuttack and I was batting on 97 not out. I was on strike and the Sri Lankan captain had put all the fielders behind and when Dinesh Karthik was batting all the fielders were up.
"He asked me what should I (Karthik) do? I told him what do you mean what should you do, you should hit the ball and finish the game. He asked if it was okay? "I mean if I am 98 not out and we win the game, we have still won the game and that is what we all play for. It is not about the hundreds but what we bring in as a team member. Sometimes, I felt I have scored 55-60 runs but they have had immense value, because that has set the platform for the team's victory," he said
Tendulkar said during his intense practise sessions he concentrated on things that ultimately led to his own satisfaction.
"Sometimes I was happy when I played just 25 balls. I knew that everything was absolutely fine. I need not complicate things. And that is when I wouldn't push myself and bowl to others and work with other players.
"If I felt I should work on my forward defence, then I would work on my forward defence. It was all about what my heart told me. It was all about my satisfaction.
"So many things are judged by others. The performance, the number of runs scored (etc) can be judged from outside, but satisfaction is always judged from within. No one else would know and only I would know whether I was satisfied or not. It all boiled down to that."
"I remember once we went to New Zealand and were playing a couple of T20 games before the ODI series started. I requested BCCI that I will go with the team and practise there for six to seven days. And I requested Gary Kirsten (then coach) to put up a bowling machine.
"So whatever number of deliveries the entire team batted, I batted the same number of deliveries facing bowling machines, by myself. It was about my own satisfaction and not the number of hours or minutes or the number of balls that I faced," he explained.
The creator of a plethora of world records in Tests and ODIs said he admired West Indies legend Viv Richards but decided not to emulate him after an unsuccessful attempt.
"I did watch once (a video of) Vivian Richards's technique the previous evening (before) going in to bat. I was trying to pull everything and hook everything. That is when I decided I am just going to watch, but not try and emulate, and that in the next innings, I needed to play the way I know.
"They always will be your heroes and heroes would continue to be your heroes in whatever stage of life you are in. You have immense regard for them. It is always nice to watch their innings, but one thing I knew was that I should not try to play like that," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar said he did not keep a tab on his peers but just looked at how they scored runs and picked up wickets.
"No, I would not obviously follow the score book, ball by ball, what is happening with Australia-West Indies match or New Zealand-England, whatever. If somebody scored runs then you would see who scored runs and how did he bat. If somebody bowled well then watch that spell.
"If we play against this bowler, this is probably what he might end up doing against us, so prepare accordingly and also think about the next series and those kind of things."
Asked about the innovative shots and the way the game has been changing, the Bharat Ratna recipient said, "Like any other sport, cricket is also changing. The shots (being) played today, I don't think anyone was playing those shots in 1980 or 1990 or even 2005.
"When Andy Flower started reverse-sweeping consistently and played that in Test series when he came down to India in 2001, I felt he was 10 or 12 years ahead of the other batters as far as playing that shot was concerned.
"Amit Mishra was bowling in England to Alastair Cook outside the off stump, and Cook actually had to play a couple of reverse sweep shots which, I don't think, any batter would have played in the 1980s.
"As the time goes on you are prepared to try out new things and have a new approach towards the game. Changes are going to take place. You just have got to accept that. If cricket was played differently in 1940s, players from 1960s or 1970s played differently. Similarly, that cycle is going on. Changes are inevitable."
Tendulkar had a fair share of being at the wrong end of dubious umpiring decisions during his illustrious career but did not hold any grudge against the erring officials, some of whom had even come later to him and apologised. "I did (vent my anger). I am a normal person and I have ways to take my frustration out. There were times when I got angry and doing that on the field was not the right way to handle things. I didn't get carried away with anything if somebody has made a mistake.
"There have been times when umpires have come to me and admitted their mistake. I don't hold any grudge against them. It takes a lot to come and say that you have made a mistake. The best result out of that is you continue to remain good friends and that is what is important to me," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar said he was enjoying his retirement from the game and was able to spend more time with his family.
"Life is relaxed. I am getting more time to spend with my family. In the last 24 years I did get (time with family) but it was (always) in the back of my mind that I had to go to Chennai or Bangalore or Kolkata to play a match and (then) you start preparing yourself.
"Your mind is always preoccupied on how you are going to bat or play in a particular series. But now I don't need to think those things and I am having quality time with my family. I have played cricket with my son but not with the season (cricket) ball," he said.
Tendulkar said he has no regrets or unfulfilled ambitions. "We had won the World Cup, won IPL, won Champions League (as Mumbai Indians team member), won Ranji Trophy (as Mumbai player in 2012-13 season) and won the last Test series (against West Indies) also.
"We became the world number one Test playing nation at that time when we won the World Cup. That journey itself was so fantastic. We all worked so hard and pushed ourselves. Before I retired, we were the number one Test playing nation.
"So I don't think I have got any complaints from cricket or any regrets that I should have done this or should have done that. I thought I was able to do everything. When I decided that this would be my last tournament, God was kind enough to give me something special."