Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who holds almost all batting records, is usually so superstitious that he does not talk about an approaching milestone. But after facing a few throwdowns from coach Gary Kirsten at the P Saravanamuttu Oval on Monday, Tendulkar spoke at length about an impending feat — surpassing Steve Waugh's record of 168 Test appearances. The little master recounted his journey from his first Test in Pakistan in 1989 to this record-breaking encounter. Excerpts...
On becoming the most capped player in Test cricket
It's been a long journey. I still remember the first Test I played in Pakistan in 1989. It was a completely different feeling compared to any cricket I had played. And since then it has worked out pretty well. I'm very happy that I have had the privilege of such a long journey at the international level. This was my dream — to play for India. And getting to play 169 Tests is fantastic.
On what it takes to last long enough to play 169 Test matches
The journey has gone by very quickly, quicker than I expected. Time flies. You just need to enjoy it, it's a circle. You are not always on the top, sometimes there are rough patches, but the simple formula that I have followed is whenever I have gone through phases, I have found a reason to work harder.
And, you know, try and spend all my energy at something I have been wanting to get better at. I have done that. I have tried to keep things simple. If you keep things simple, they are pretty simple to manage. I have used the huge support that I have had around the world as a factor to motivate myself.
I try and live up to the expectations I have of myself, and also make sure that I am always top of my game, or at least my preparations are such that I am out there to deliver and do my best at all times.
On whether he thinks this record will be broken
Records are meant to be broken. All I can say is whoever breaks my records should be an Indian.
On the importance of this record in comparison to other records he holds
The rest of things can be achieved, but for this you need an X number of years, an X number of tours, that's when this thing happens. It has taken me 20-plus years to get here. It's wonderful that we have been able to play so much Test cricket. In the last few years we have played a reasonable amount of Test cricket.
At one stage, in the early nineties, I hardly got any Tests. On a couple of occasions there were just two or three Tests in a year. It was disappointing. That is not the case now.
On whether his passion for the game was the main thing that keeps him going
Over the years the love for cricket has remained the same. If at all, it has only increased with time. Passion also has kept increasing. Whether it is match or practice, I still enjoy it.
On how difficult the journey has been over the last two decades
Had it been less than 20 years, it would have still been difficult. I don't take this as a burden. It is god's gift that my life's passion is also my work. So I enjoy every moment. I got the chance 20 years ago, and since then I have been living a dream.
On his advice to youngsters who want to become Sachin Tendulkar
It's important to dream, and then the second thing is, chase your dreams. Be sincere and honest, and chase your dreams. They do come true.