The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin: Performance, not age should be the criterion
- The talismanic senior-most pro speaks in the lead-up to his 400th ODI

Vadodara: Come Thursday and Sachin Tendulkar will make his 400th ODI appearance — the only other member of this most elite of clubs is Sanath Jayasuriya. On Tuesday evening, Sachin (cricket’s senior-most pro) spoke to The Telegraph at the Taj Residency.

The following are excerpts

On whether he’s one hundred per cent fit

Fine… Fine… Too much shouldn’t have been made of my knee strain yesterday (in Chandigarh)…

On his 79, Team India’s top score in Chandigarh

It was a different kind of innings and my priority had been to get myself in and, then, build on the start… It turned out to be a crucial knock and it helped that Sourav (Ganguly) was at the other end… He was immensely supportive… It helps when your partner keeps talking to you between overs, keeps encouraging you… It counts for more when he has himself played over 300 ODIs… The Australians were bowling some very good balls and it was important not to lose a wicket early… Sourav and I set out to lay a foundation (they added 91)… Of course, later, we had batsmen who could go for the big hits.

On his innings coming just days after chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar asked the seniors to buck up

I don’t wish to comment.

On whether age should at all be the criterion for selection

Performance, not age should be the criterion… I don’t wish to join in any debate, but what I’ve said is what I believe in.

On being hours away from his 400th ODI appearance

Feels nice… I’m soon also going to complete 18 years of international cricket… It’s been a long journey and I have fond memories… I feel honoured that I’ve been able to play for the country for so many years…

On his approach on Thursday

It will be a special day, but I intend treating it like any other match. It’s not that I’m going to get carried away.

On whether his family will be in the stands

No… No…

On whether he remembers where he made his 100th, 200th and 300th appearances

(Laughs) I don’t, the first two were certainly many years ago… The 300th could have been against… No, I’m not sure.

[The 100th was versus New Zealand in Pune (1995), 200th against Zimbabwe in Harare (1998) and the 300th was versus Sri Lanka in Colombo (2002).]

On what keeps him going

My love for cricket… I haven’t stopped enjoying it… When you love doing something, you don’t have to worry about motivation. Also, the enjoyment remains.

On having got back the opening slot in the summer

I’ve opened for most of my career and, yes, I’m most comfortable there.

On the three ODI performances which have given him most satisfaction

You’ve asked a tough question… (After a pause) The ones which probably stand out are (a) the last over I bowled (1-0-3-0) at the Eden in the 1993 Hero Cup semi-finals against South Africa; (b) my run in the April 1998 tournament in Sharjah, when I totalled 435 in five matches and (c) the 98 versus Pakistan in Centurion, during the 2003 World Cup…

On teammates (batsmen only, seniority-wise) he has admired in ODIs

This is even tougher and I’m bound to miss out some names… (Mohammed) Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Sourav… (Vinod) Kambli played some good innings… Rahul (Dravid) has a fine record… (Virender) Sehwag has had good knocks… Yuvraj (Singh), (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni…

On the non-Indian batsmen

Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul Haq — both very special.

On his advice to a debutant

Reproduce the form you showed in domestic cricket, for that has brought you to the big stage… Perform with the belief that the team is backing you… Indeed, give your best without worrying about the result.

Finally, on having handled big-time pressure for almost 18 years

(Laughs again) I thought we were just talking of my thoughts in the lead-up to my 400th ODI! Let’s keep it to that only…

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