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‘We have a very good chance of winning the World Cup’
Willow Talk: Sachin Tendulkar

Brian Lara

Where were you when we won the 1983 World Cup?

Sachin Tendulkar: I was just ten years old then, knew nothing much about cricket. I watched the final on TV. Staying awake till late in the night was something I can never forget. When India won, we celebrated in our locality. Firecrackers were burst and every family distributed sweets. It was an experience to cherish, really!

The 2007 World Cup will be your fifth. Which edition was the most memorable?

Sachin Tendulkar: 2003 was special because we reached the finals. Things were not going our way in the initial stages. But we managed to pull things together, and the country stood solidly behind us. I can't forget the 1996 edition either. We hosted the tournament and reached the semi-finals. The country supported us whole-heartedly.

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Sachin Tendulkar: Definitely the 98 against Pakistan in 2003. It is one of my best knocks. Another innings that is close to my heart is the 90 against Australia in the 1996 tournament.

People would like to know what you ate in the supper-break before going on to lift Shoaib Akhtar over third-man…

Sachin Tendulkar: Nothing special! I had an ice cream, wore my headgear and concentrated on the job at hand. We had to chase a reasonably big target and things fell into place during the innings.

What did Anjali tell you when you called home after the game?

Sachin Tendulkar: When you win a major match in the World Cup, the whole country goes berserk. But when you beat Pakistan, it is always festival time in India. Anjali was in the balcony when I called her. She held the phone facing the sky so that I could hear the firecrackers. The same was happening in South Africa as well. We Indians do know how to celebrate a major victory!

What went wrong in the 2003 World Cup final?

Sachin Tendulkar: Sometimes you tend to do too many things when you get within striking distance of a dream. Perhaps, we tried too hard. It was the first World Cup final for all the players. We gave 110 % on the field. It's not that we did not do our best. Sometimes it helps to be in a relaxed frame of mind on the field. We probably went over the top in trying to be ahead of the game. But then, you do not play a World Cup final everyday.

It took the country several days to digest the defeat at the Wanderers.

Sachin Tendulkar: Yes. It was a bitter disappointment. It hurts even today; getting so close to a dream and not fulfilling it. It was devastating for us, our supporters and the country.

Ramakant Achrekar, your coach, wanted a World Cup winner's medal from his favourite disciple.

Sachin Tendulkar: Not only he, but the whole country wants it! This is the biggest tournament and you obviously want to win it to prove to the world that you are the best.

The atmosphere in the Caribbean - beaches, galleries, calypsos - is electric, isn't it?

Sachin Tendulkar: Yes. It's a great place to play cricket. But the most important thing is to actually go out and play good cricket.

What are our chances of winning the 2007 World Cup?

Sachin Tendulkar: We have a very good chance of winning. It's not always about the composition of the team. It is more important to get into a rhythm and then sustain it. We struggled at the start of the 2003 tournament because the momentum was not with us. But once we gained it, we beat every side except Australia.

If we win the World Cup, will it be the greatest day of your cricket career?

Sachin Tendulkar: Undoubtedly. It can't get bigger than that. Lifting the World Cup is every cricketer's dream.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

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