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India ready to defend Cup, says Sachin

Sachin Tendulkar, in Mumbai, on Thursday

Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar has backed defending champions India to do well in next year’s 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, saying the No.1 ODI side is ready for the tough challenge coming up in five months time.

“The World Cup will be played next year in Australia and New Zealand and I have got some fond memories of ’91-92, when we played in Australia and New Zealand. Just a gentle reminder to everyone here that the defending champions are ready to defend,” Tendulkar said during a promotional at the Cricket Club of India with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in attendance.

Sachin was obviously referring to India’s superb display in the ongoing five-match ODI series against hosts England after a dismal run in the preceding Test series, which they lost 1-3.

Tendulkar, who quit all forms of the game after playing his 200th Test in November 2013, was part of the 2011 victorious squad led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Tendulkar fondly recollected one of his earlier visits to Australia to meet the country’s greatest-ever sports icon Donald Bradman on his 90th birthday.

“I think it was 1980 or 82, when my neighbour first showed me a letter that he had received from Sir Don. He said ‘I had written a letter to him, to which Sir Don has actually replied.’ We checked out his autograph.

“I was too young to know about Sir Don at that time. Little did I know that 19-20 years down the line I would actually be visiting Sir Don’s place to wish him on his 90th birthday. That was an experience in itself,” Tendulkar said.

“I went there with Warnie (Shane Warne) and both of us didn’t know what to say or what questions to ask. That experience was really special,” said the champion batsman.

“We had asked what would you have averaged in today’s cricket, because he had mentioned the standard of playing in cricket was better now. He said he would have averaged probably 70. The natural reaction was why only 70, why not 99 (99.94). He said come on son it is not bad for a 90-year-old-man,” he recalled.

Tendulkar said Bradman paid him the ultimate compliment when he remarked on their similar batting styles.

“The greatest compliment that I have received in my life was without any doubt from Sir Don. In 1994-95 he told his wife that my batting style resembled his own. And the icing on the cake was when he picked me to be part of his all-time best Test playing XI. That was a special moment for me in life. I have a photograph of the playing XI framed at my place, which I would treasure,” he said.