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'I am not too old to play key role'

Tendulkar says he is not too old to play a meaningful part in a tour that could put the finishing touches on his great career.

cricket Updated: Dec 19, 2007 15:53 IST

Sachin Tendulkar is a man of few carefully chosen words and as he wheeled his luggage towards the team bus he said quietly but firmly that he was not too old to play a meaningful part in a tour that could put the finishing touches on his great career.

India's cricketers arrived to a rock star reception at Melbourne airport, it was reported by the media in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Tendulkar, 34, said he had recovered from the knee problem that kept him out of last week's third Test against Pakistan.

He is expected to play in India's solitary warm-up match, which starts on Thursday against Victoria at the Junction Oval, even though he did little more than loosen up his muscles after the flight during Tuesday's light afternoon training run at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Tendulkar first toured Australia as a cherubic 17-year-old and serenely composed a couple of centuries, and in the second demonstrated his monk-like concentration against a hostile, four-pronged pace attack in Perth.

Although he has toured Australia for Tests three times in 16 years, he has never experienced what captain Anil Kumble on Tuesday described as cricket's mightiest achievement - beating Australia in Australia.

"It certainly means a lot," Kumble said. "We came pretty close to doing that last time when we came here. Leading up to the Sydney Test match it was 1-1. We did extremely well in the last Test series so it's going to be very crucial for all of us."

"Most of the senior cricketers are here on their last tour to Australia so it's very important that we go back victorious. It means a lot to all of us in the team and it means a lot to Indian cricket. Not many teams have come here to go back victorious so it's a great opportunity for all of us and we look forward to that," he said.

Former coach Greg Chappell is among those who have argued that India must have younger, more athletic cricketers in order to move forward.

Asked whether he felt the age of India's star batsmen would be a factor in the coming series, Tendulkar smiled and said on Tuesday: "No, not really."

Did he regard this as India's best chance to defeat Australia at home, an achievement no team has managed since the West Indies in 1992-93? Tendulkar said: "We have come here to play good cricket and with good results, so hopefully we will. We have come here in good shape and we are looking forward to this tour."

Could India, with Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh leading the attack, take the 20 Australian wickets needed to make the hosts taste defeat for the first time since the 2005 Ashes? "Yes, we do. We have done that in the past so I don't see any problem," he said.