Sachin Tendulkar dislikes being crowded and touched by strangers. So when a journalist stood and fidgeted a bit too close to him during an impromptu press conference on Wednesday, he shot him a look loaded with irritation.
In the unruly circumstances that characterise player-media interactions in India, a television reporter then asked Tendulkar, “Is the milestone of the 400th match a special high considering there have been more lows than highs for you off late?”
Tendulkar has hit seven One-day 50s, four of them 90-plus scores, since the tour of Ireland in June. This time, he did not restrict himself to an icy glance. “I think you need to go and check up your records,” he replied. Tendulkar’s voice was calm. But inside, he bristled.
Between these two incidents, the stalwart batsman spoke on the prospect of playing his 400th One-day International when India meet Australia in Vadodara on Thursday and the highpoints of the journey so far.
“I am feeling good that it’s my 400th one-dayer but for me it’s just going to be another match; that’s how I look at it. My approach will be the same as for any other match. I’ll aim to score runs and help the team win.”
Asked about the significance of the match being played in Vadodara, where his last innings was a winning, 76-ball hundred against the West Indies, Tendulkar said, “Yes, I have scored runs on this ground and it’s been good to me. I am hoping to do well again and contribute to the team’s success.”
Which were the more memorable of the 399 games he had played thus far? “There have been quite a few,” said the 34-year-old. “Like the Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa in 1993 when I bowled the last over. That’s strong in my memory. Then there were matches in Sharjah and the World Cup (2003) match against Pakistan in Centurion (where he scored 98).”