Mumbai(IANS): All eyes will be on master blaster Sachin Tendulkar Saturday as India take on Sri Lanka in the cricket World Cup final. The Mumbaikar is one short of completing a record of 100 international centuries as he takes part in what seems to be his last outing in the quadrennial showpiece.
Tendulkar, who turns 39 later this month, is rated among the greatest batsmen of all era, with all conceivable records already in his bag.
Having featured in all six World Cups since 1992, he is at par with Pakistan’s Javed Miandad in appearing in the maximum number of editions of the big ticket event.
Now at the climax of his 21-year international career, Tendulkar has under his belt 18,093 runs in 452 ODIs embellished with 48 tons. He has stroked another 51 centuries in 177 Test matches, on the way to aggregating 14,692 runs.
The entire country is hoping to see Tendulkar complete the feat of a century of international hundreds in his hometown Saturday, and Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni doffed his hat to the cricket genius.
Having seen Tendulkar from close range, Dhoni said “He will just prepare well, have a good night’s sleep and turn up on the field and be at his best.”
Dhoni saluted Tendulkar’s love and passion for the game saying: “Every time he turns up for a practice session or a game he is 100 percent there, he never turns up just for the sake of it. He gets there with a purpose in mind and until that gets resolved he is one person who won’t leave the field.”
Calling him an “amazing” person, Dhoni said: “We all know the kind of talent he has got. His attitude has not changed for the last 21 years.” He said most other players would have become disinterested in the game over such a long period.
“But God just made him to play cricket and he has been doing that for the past 21 years, and hopefully a few more years to come. For the last 21 years the whole of India has been expecting things from him.
“I don’t think it’s anything new, but being the kind of individual he is, he always
thinks about going on to the field and giving his best. If you have prepared well, and it’s your day, you can get the big runs and you can make your team win.”
Turning to the latest milestone Tendulkar has come close to, Dhoni said: “There is no point thinking about what milestone you’re supposed to achieve – he has achieved a lot and he doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, it’s just about himself.”
Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is another legend, who would retire from international cricket after the final. Dhoni called him a “special individual.”
“He’s a very good character to have in the dressing room and an equally good opponent. He plays fair cricket, he believes in himself and he’s a great entertainment on the field.”
Murlitharan is nursing hamstring and knee problems, but Dhoni said: “I think he will
definitely play the game unless he is on one leg.” He said the team is focussing on the game, and not on the fact that it was the last match for coach Gary Kirsten.
“Everyone wants to do well in this game including Gary. It’s about the present, we all know what Gary has done to the team, how he has changed Indian cricket, the dressing room atmosphere and the effort he has put in. “But we will think about it later. First things first. It’s the final tomorrow,” he added.