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Sachin awaits crowning glory moment in Eng

When Sachin Tendulkar will walk out on the sacred turf at Lord's, he will again be carrying the hopes of an entire nation on his strong shoulders.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2007 01:35 IST

Sachin Tendulkar on Friday described his farewell tour of England as a "memorable summer" but said a win in the seventh and last one-day cricket match at Lord's would be its crowning glory moment.

As he looked back on his final journey in an interview to PTI, Tendulkar said India's triumph in the Test series was something "very special" that has seen the team show case "great fighting spirit and collective effort".

Tendulkar has played some vintage cricket in the one-day series. So far on this tour, he has smashed 548 runs from his ten innings, with four 90s, at a strike rate of 84.3.

Saturday, as Tendulkar walks out on the sacred turf at Lord's he will again be carrying the hopes of an entire nation on his strong shoulders looking to slice a piece of history at the famous venue for himself as much for his team.

"It has been a great summer of cricket for the entire team. The victory in the Test series (that broke a 21-year-old drought of a series triumph) was very special," Tendulkar said.

"This is my fourth tour of England and we waited for a long time to beat England in England. It was highly commendable and special and I was extremely happy to be a part of it," said the star batsman.

Tendulkar made an early exit in his final Test innings at the Oval but he described his experience of playing in England as a "good challenge".

"Playing in England is part of your cricketing education just as it is when playing Australia or South Africa. Every country is different and you face different challenges and learn to deal with different wickets and different bowlers," Tendulkar said.

His new found jinx of getting out in the 90's may have prevented Tendulkar from adding to his tally of 78 international hundreds. But some of it was his own doing while on other occasion it was the dreaded finger of the umpire.

"It happens," was his way of looking at it.

The beautiful journey this summer started with India's first-ever victory over South Africa on foreign soil in Belfast where Tendulkar seemed to have rolled back the years batting with customary brilliance befitting the 'master blaster'.

And on the day he completed 15,000 one-day runs, he got back at his critics saying "with a bat in my hand, I have a bigger job to do".

Yet, after batting brilliantly right through the series in England, Tendulkar wasn't too keen to worry about his critics.

"I am not here to prove anything to anyone. I am just enjoying my game. It has been my dream to play for India and I like every moment of it," he said.

While not many would have given the Indians a chance after their great escape at Lord's in the first Test, Tendulkar reckons the team never lacked self-belief and eventually turned it around with a great show in the second Test at Nottingham.

"After beating South Africa the confidence was high. We knew if we played to our potential and execute our plans well, and then we had a real chance," Tendulkar said.

"The key to our victory was partnerships. We got the partnerships going both in batting as well as bowling. Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Sourav (Ganguly), Rahul (Dravid), VVS (Laxman) everyone forged crucial partnerships they gave us a good total.

"Similarly, in the bowling department, Zaheer (Khan) was a huge influence. He really did a great job swinging it big. RP (Singh) supported him well. Anil Kumble, as always, chipped in regularly. S Sreesanth may not have been lucky to get as many wickets, but he maintained the pressure right through by probing the batsmen all the time," he said.

A superstitious man that he is, Tendulkar was in the thick of action when Anil Kumble took a 'perfect ten' against Pakistan in the Delhi Test, making sure it was only him giving the bowler's cap to the umpire every time when came to bowl.

In this series, Tendulkar still had some work to do behind the scenes to ensure that Kumble gets his maiden hundred and an Indian batsman finally got to the three figure mark.

"I told everyone in the dressing room not to move from their seats till he gets it. Don't even think of taking the cameras out, just sit where you are.

"In fact, when Anil came to the dressing room on 63 not out at tea; I told him that he could be the first and only one to do it in this series. I said, 'Please don't let me down' and he didn't. He got to his hundred in great style (laughs) didn't he?"

When India scored a stunning victory against South Africa in the Johannesburg Test early this year, skipper Rahul Dravid was a worried man because his colleagues blew away all the bubbly.

"I hope the boys learn to drink it," Dravid had said.

And according to Tendulkar, the captain's word has been taken note of. "The boys did drink a lot of it this time," he said smilingly.

Just last week, the genius of Tendulkar was appreciated and acknowledged by Shane Warne who put the Indian at the top of his list. It was a great tribute from one legend to another.

Tendulkar felt "extremely happy" and "privileged" about it as he spoke at length about Warne's own greatness and his friendship with the great Australian.

"He's surely one of the greatest players to have played this game. Above all, he's also a wonderful person. What he's been able to achieve for Australia is something special. There are not many guys who can stand next to him and say that they have done similar things. You don't get to see such cricketers every day.

"At the batting crease, you had to be awake to play Warne. He gave you no breathing space. He was a fierce competitor, and you knew that at no stage could you bat him out of the game. He was always coming back at you. That kept me on my toes."

Indeed, Tendulkar's clashes with Warne were among the game's marquee contests. Accordingly there have been some great memories too.

"We've always had good competition, and shared some nice humour. I remember the first time I scored a hundred against him in one-day cricket, in Sri Lanka (1994); I hit him for a six following which he came down the track and said something.

It was something I didn't take much notice off since I started walking towards the square-leg umpire. I caught up with him after the game and asked him: 'Can you please repeat what you said because I didn't hear anything?' and we both had a hearty laugh. We have been good friends since then."

Finally, Tendulkar admitted he was surprised to know that that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) actually stood in a queue for his autograph near the Lord's dressing room.

"To be honest, I didn't know of it. I was keen to rush back to the dressing room because play about to start. I came to know of it only when my wife, Anjali, told me that it made headlines back home.

"Harry Potter is quite a well known and there's an aura about him especially for youngsters. It was his 18th birthday too and had I known (about his presence) I could have wished him Happy Birthday!

Asked what he had learnt from his chance encounter with Harry Potter, Tendulkar quipped, "That I need to look up while signing autographs!" (laughs).