He may not be taking the field when India play Pakistan on Sunday, but speaking to HT on the eve of the big game Sachin Tendulkar said he was “slightly impatient”.
“I cannot wait for the game to start,” the cricketing legend said.
It is, after all, the first time after six World Cups, that he is at home, watching the game on a TV set, rather than out there with the team.
In his trademark politically correct manner, Sachin refused to pick his favourite players. “That’s going to be very hard. I don’t want to pick five, and leave out other names."
He even handled the potentially tricky ‘What kind of pressure is there on MS Dhoni?’ question with a solid forward defence. His advice to the team, overall, was to enjoy the tournament, and believe in themselves. Excerpts from an interview.
Any special preparations for watching the big India-Pakistan game?
I’m going to be at home (he lives in Bandra) and enjoy the match with my friends. It’s going to be very different for me, this year. It’s the first time that I’m away (from the team) during a World Cup… In fact, [it feels like] the first time in my life (He will travel to Australia later, on February 20). I am looking forward to the game, and feeling slightly impatient. I can’t wait for it to start. I don’t think I am nervous, though.
What would be your advice to the team?
It’s a fantastic tournament, and the atmosphere in Australia is going to be great. So, the players need to feel that energy. In Australia, they appreciate good performances. Even when you’re not playing, and sitting in a restaurant, someone might come up to you and say, “well played”.
If you’re in the team, you’re good enough to be out there. So believe in yourself, and play well.
What kind of pressure is there on MS Dhoni, as defending captain, especially with the recent scrutiny over his form?
It’s hard for me to talk about, or know, the kind of pressure he might be in. But I know he must be all geared up. Any cricketer looks forward to performing well; I’m sure he’s keen to perform as well.
The team seems dependent on Virat Kohli to perform, almost like they once depended on you.
I don’t like comparisons. He must be judged by what he does; judged for what he means to the team. But I’ll say this – he’s a crucial part of this team.
Are you only tracking India, or will you be waking up at 3 am for the other games as well?
No, no, I won’t be waking up at 3am. I love the game, but I will be recording the matches, and watching them at 10am.