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‘It’s a guarantee each of us will put his best foot forward’
- A TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE
- Sachin opens up days before his fifth World Cup appearance

Calcutta: Despite the heavy demands, senior-most pro Sachin Tendulkar managed to spare some time for a one-on-one with The Telegraph. The questions, with good reason, were largely confined to the forthcoming World Cup. Incidentally, with 1,732 runs (a fantastic average of nearly 60), Sachin is the most prolific scorer in cricket’s showpiece event. He turns 34 next month.

The following are excerpts

On being days away from his fifth World Cup

Every World Cup is huge for any cricketer… Yes, there’s satisfaction that I’m going to make my fifth appearance. It’s definitely a nice feeling… Whatever happens, it will remain special.

On whether the World Cup’s ninth edition is going to be his last

Can’t say… I don’t know what’s in store for me…

On Sunil Gavaskar’s “hope” that he continues till 2011, when the World Cup returns to Asia and India

(Laughs) As I’ve said, I don’t know… In any case, I wouldn’t like to jump four years… I’d rather stay focused on the World Cup which is about to begin.

On Team India’s chances

Wouldn’t like to talk too much about what may happen… Nobody can predict… Putting in everything is in our hands, giving that one hundred per cent… But some factors are out of our control… It’s a guarantee that each of us will put his best foot forward. After that, it’s upto the Almighty.

On captain Rahul Dravid’s comment ‘a lot of guys realise this is going to be their last (World Cup) and I’m hoping they will give that extra effort’

My response is that nobody is going to be found wanting.

On the burden-imposing expectations of a billion and more

Frankly, it’s difficult to keep everyone happy… Nobody should complain if the effort is there… Personally, I’m pleased when I know I’ve done the right things… I’m satisfied and can then put my hand on the heart and say I’ve done the best I could… Doing everything for the country drives me and is a very important part of my life… (After a pause) I feel fans must not become so emotional that they become irrational.

On the Indian teams in the 1992 (his first), 1996, 1999 and 2003 World Cups

You know I don’t like making comparisons… Every team has something special… Has character and has its importance… I wouldn’t like to take anything away from any team. Doing so wouldn’t be fair.

On tips for the six — Irfan Pathan, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Robin Uthappa — who’re in a World Cup squad for the first time

Well, it’s easy to get excited and to get carried away, but they should play normally. After all, it’s still cricket.

On the 2007 World Cup being the last chapter in the Sachin Tendulkar versus Brian Lara rivalry in ODIs

People keep projecting one rivalry or the other… Over the years, I’ve featured in so many, but I see rivalries as between countries. Sure, there could be a personal element, but we must not get stuck on individuals who’re only part of a team.

On the tremors across India when he opted out of the February 17 Vizag ODI (against Sri Lanka), Team India’s last big engagement before the World Cup, owing to a bad back

I had stiffness and needed rest, there was nothing more to it… The pain, thankfully, wasn’t of the kind I had before the 1999 World Cup… In my opinion, the Media tends to give some things more attention than they deserve.

On what made him accept the vice-captaincy after the defeat-packed tour of South Africa

Nothing except that I could make a contribution… Obviously, the World Cup was in (the selectors’) mind…

Finally, on whispers that he could take over from Dravid after the World Cup

(Laughs again) No… No… No… I’m not getting into all that… Today, my mind is on the World Cup. That’s it.

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