The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘There is no race’
- Sachin rates national interest above any competition with Steve Waugh on centuries

Calcutta: Three Sundays after being ‘beaten’ by Sachin Tendulkar in the Formule Mondiale karting championship in Chennai, Steve Waugh got past the Indian maestro in the Test centurions’ shortlist.

In fact, the Australian captain’s unbeaten 156 in Cairns against Bangladesh — his 32nd century — has placed him just two short of the record-scripting Sunil Gavaskar. For now, Sachin stays alone on 31.

“Oh, did Steve get the remaining 26 runs'” was Sachin’s initial response when contacted by The Telegraph in Mumbai, on Sunday afternoon.

[Overnight, the Australian icon had been on 74. And, at the end of the third day, acknowledged that Sachin will “waltz past” whatever the number of centuries he finishes with.]

In much the same breath, though, Sachin added: “Well, Steve’s a great cricketer and batsman… He deserves the success that comes his way.”

Asked if he would now be more determined to quickly add to his own centuries, in the 2003-2004 season, Sachin replied: “Am I itching to get No. 32' No… Actually, there’s no race between Steve and me… Nor is there a rivalry over centuries…”

Opportunity No. 1 for Sachin, by the way, will be during the first of two Tests at home versus New Zealand. For the record, Sachin’s centuries have come in 105 Tests, while Steve — the most capped cricketer — is in his 162nd appearance.

Typically, Sachin made the point about not looking at centuries as a personal achievement.

“Of course, I would like to score more. But, at the same time, whatever runs I get will be runs for Team India… As I’ve said in the past, being able to contribute towards victories is what gives the maximum satisfaction. A strictly personal milestone can never get a higher billing,” is how he put it.

Laughing, Sachin confirmed having dined with Steve in Chennai (on the eve of the karting championship), but insisted they didn’t talk of the centurions’ club. “I don’t think we spoke much about cricket, in any case,” he quipped.

Sachin, who underwent surgery on his left ring finger five weeks after the World Cup (where he was adjudged the numero uno player), revealed he had resumed gym-work and was feeling comfortable.

“With so much rain (in Mumbai), I’ve not been able to have nets proper… That, I suppose, may have to wait till next month’s conditioning camp in Bangalore,” he pointed out.

Sachin, who will be going overseas on a “holiday of sorts,” maintained he would be back in time for the camp’s August 14 start.

The itch will surely surface once his bat again gets a feel of the leather.


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