Calcutta: Come Thursday and 34-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, the sportís senior-most pro, will complete 18 years as an India cricketer. Sachin, who is in Gwalior with the Mahendra Singh Dhonis, spoke to The Telegraph from the team hotel (Usha Kiran Palace) there.
The following are excerpts
On being hours from completing 18 years of international cricket
To be honest, I havenít given the date much thought... All I can say is that Iíve enjoyed every minute of playing for India... Having put in so many years gives a nice feeling.
On memories of November 15, 1989
(After a pause) I was tense... I was nervous... I was also excited... It was a big moment for me then and remains a huge moment even now... Itís difficult describing the emotions and, to be frank, I just didnít know what to expect... That Pakistan batted first allowed my nerves to settle down.
On whether heíd slept well the night before
I did, in fact...
On whether heíd done anything different that morning
Not really... As usual, I said my prayers.
On whoíd informed him that he would be making his Test debut (youngest for India)
From what I remember, both (captain Krishnamachari) Srikkanth and manager (Chandu) Borde... They spoke to me during the team meeting the previous evening. Iíd got 40-odd in the lead-up game and, so, was expecting to make the XI.
On whether any teammate had something special to say once the XI was announced
I canít recall anything in particular... As that was the first morning of the series, I suppose everyone was busy with his own preparations.
On how far heíd hoped to go after getting his maiden Test cap
Didnít think of anything except putting my best foot forward... At that age, all that mattered was the excitement of playing for India... It was the realisation of a dream... I didnít, for a moment, think of the consequences of not scoring or the benefits of scoring... I scored 15 in the only innings I batted and was struck by the sharp difference in pace at the Test level.
[Pakistanís fiery attack included captain Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and debutant Waqar Younis. Itís the last-named who got Sachinís wicket.]
On the past 18 years
I thank the Almighty for giving me the opportunities... Iím still learning... Cricket is a sport where you never stop doing so.
On whether he has now set sights on turning 21
(Laughs) Iím not looking that much into the future... Today, Iím happy with the way this journey has gone...
On the added pressure of being a national icon
Iíve never changed as a person... Never changed the way I do things... Obviously, people have liked me for what I am and, so, there hasnít been reason to change... That people see me as an icon is humbling... I value the respect given to me. The affection too.
On whether, with 37 Test hundreds and 41 in ODIs, he still has a goal to achieve
Iím enjoying what Iím doing and want to continue things the same way... Thereís nothing more... My goal, then, is to enjoy...
On whether, having turned down the Test captaincy, heíll be focusing that much more on batting
(Interrupting) Arenít we just talking of my 18 years'
Finally, his message to rookies
Go and enjoy yourself without worrying about the result... Youíve been picked because the selectors have seen something in you, have seen you make a mark in domestic cricket... So, carry on in that manner and donít try to change your gameÖ Look to make a similar impact (in international cricket)Ö Nothing should matter more than enjoying what youíre doing. That, for me, is the best approach.
the tendulkaR FACTFILE
Eighteen years ago, on November 15, Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut against Pakistan in Karachi. The rest, as they say, is history. Following are the statistical highlights of his career so far:
Sachin in Figures
Tests — 11150 runs in 140 matches @ 54.93; Not out: 23; Highest: 248*; 100s: 37; 50s: 45; Wkts: 42
ODIs — 15835 runs in 405 matches @ 44.23; Not out: 37; Highest 186*; 100s: 41; 50s: 86; Wkts: 154
Landmarks in Tests
At 16 years and 205 days, Sachin became India’s youngest Test player and the third youngest overall
His 140 Test appearances is the most for India and the fourth most overall
His aggregate of 11150 runs is the most by an Indian and the third best
His batting average of 54.93 is the best among batsmen with over 10000 runs in Tests.
Sachin boasts of most away Test runs (6233) than any other batsman in Tests
Has most centuries in Tests (37)
Sachin also holds the record for his tally of five Test centuries as a teenager
His 217 against New Zealand at Ahmedabad (1999-00) is the highest by an Indian while leading the side
Sachin is one of the nine batsmen to register three-figure scores against all nine Test playing nations. He was, in fact, the third to do so
Landmarks in ODIs
Has appeared in most ODIs (405) than any other player
At 16 years, 238 days, became India’s youngest ODI player and the seventh youngest overall (he was then the second youngest)
From April 1990 to April 1998, Sachin appeared in 185 ODIs in a row — a record
His aggregate of 15835 runs is the most by any batsman in ODIs
Has most centuries in ODIs (41)
Has most scores in 50s (from 50 to 99) — 86
Has most scores in 90s — 15
Sachin has missed a three figure score by one run on three occasions — a record
His unbeaten 186 against New Zealand in Hyderabad in November 1999 is the highest by an Indian in an ODI
Has made the most runs in a calendar year — 1894 in 1998
Sachin has been involved in 83 century-plus partnerships — a record in ODIs
COMPILED BY MOHANDAS MENON