It is well into the second day since Team India lifted the World Cup, but for batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar the feeling is yet to sink in.
The 37-year-old, who stayed away from interacting with the media through the duration of the tournament, was on Monday effusive in his praise of the team for their dedication and determination and called skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni the best captain he had played under. A big statement considering the fact that the master batsman began his career in 1989.
“In the years I have been playing, he is the best captain I have played under. He is very mature and awareness of the situation is his biggest strength,” Tendulkar told reporters at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra Kurla Complex.
“He doesn’t show any frustration and knows the likes and dislikes of every individual.”
However, Tendulkar insisted the title triumph was not the sum total of the individual brilliance of some but the result of a team that stuck together to achieve the goal. “Within the team we played for each other and the nation. It was every one’s dream to win the World Cup,” he said in response to a query that all members of the team wanted to win the tournament for him.
The team members carried Tendulkar on their shoulders during the victory lap at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday night after the win over Sri Lanka and he struggled to control his emotions. “I was not expecting that. To do a victory lap like that was extremely emotional,” he added.
“In 1987 (World Cup semifinal against England), I was a ball boy and Sunil Gavaskar took me to the dressing room and introduced me to many Indian players. That was a special day for me. And April 2 will be the most important day in my life,” Tendulkar added.
However, Tendulkar refused to speak about his future and said it was an occasion to enjoy the achievement.
‘Gary should stay’
The one man the team will sorely miss is their South African coach Gary Kristen, and Tendulkar echoed the feelings of his team mates. “Personally, I will want him to continue, but he has his family commitments and I respect his decision.
“We all worked hard for this goal, and probably he worked harder than us. He was like a bowling machine throwing balls at everyone who wanted to get some batting practice,” he added. The former South African opener had already announced he would step down as India coach after the World Cup. BCCI is yet to begin the process of finding his successor, but they have until June when India tour West Indies.
Enjoyed the process
Asked about the pressure he faced during the tournament, Tendulkar said it was more due to his own expectations.
“Everyone was under pressure. We had to work as a team. If one team member could not deliver in a particular match, it became the others’ responsibility to overcome his failure and turn into success by giving it their best shot.”
Tendulkar insisted the team was focused on giving their best on the eve of the final and not thinking too far ahead. “The team went into the final not thinking about lifting the Cup, but thinking about the process. We were thinking of limiting them (Sri Lanka) to the smallest total possible.”