Sachin Tendulkar, 38 years old and hungry as ever for runs, answered questions from the media on a wide range of issues. Coca Cola and Adidas felicitated the maestro on his 100th hundred, Coke came out with a gold can and Adidas presented a special limited edition shoe.
Q: Your view on people's perception that you play with an eye on records?
A: Many people have opinions on various things. Sometimes I get the feeling they have just opinions for me and nothing else. I don't know what people are thinking about me. My attention is not on opinions, I focus on how I can improve, what I can do to help my team win. When contributing to the team's cause, records happen. Records are created with a bigger goal in mind, helping the team win. If records don't happen and India wins, I don't mind. In team meetings, we discuss ways to win matches, not who is going to chase which record.
Q: After Rahul Dravid's retirement, questions about when Sachin Tendulkar will make way?
When I should retire is a decision to be taken by me. When I started to play cricket, the decision was not taken by someone else. My own courage, guidance from my coaches and family helped. Those who advise me on retirement did not bring me into the team. I dreamt about playing for the nation and perform as well as I can. I feel that as long as commitment and passion for cricket exists in me, I should keep playing. The day I feel something amiss in some aspect of my game, or my passion or commitment to get out there is receding, I should start thinking about retirement.
Q: Celebrating 100th century on a day of defeat for India, the loss which put us out of the Asia Cup?
I don't think we are celebrating that one match (loss to Bangladesh). Basically where I have reached in the game has taken me 23 long years, not just one game. Results are extremely important, the defeat was disappointing. After losing, there was no celebration. Throughout the tournament and even before, it was felt that other sides should do well against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup. I would like to clarify that Bangladesh played good cricket. You may think they were a weak side, four matches they played, performances tell its own story. The opponent also plays to win.
Q: How did you handle the pressure between the 99th and the 100th century?
During the World Cup, after my 99th hundred, we played four World Cup games where no one raised the query about when the 100th hundred will come. You (media) created the build-up about my 100th, I did not. Then you turn around and ask me about the landmark. I was looking ahead to play cricket the way I always know. When batting, I looked ahead to scoring runs, the more the better for my team. In a day you meet about 150 to 200 people and if each one after wishing you mentioned about prayers, the thought stayed in my mind. If I liked it or not, whether I wanted to listen or not. I reminded myself to keep enjoying the game and not lose hope. From the cricketing viewpoint, it was a tough phase, the wishes kept coming.
Q: Your thoughts on playing the next World Cup?
When this question was asked in 2007 (about playing in 2011 World Cup), it was tough for me to answer. It's the same situation. I don't know what to say, if people keep praying for me, that means a lot for me. I will keep trying, the rest is in god's hands.
Q: Anything left to prove and the next target?
I don't think I need to prove to anyone. I started playing the game because I enjoyed it. My dream was to represent the nation and win the World Cup. I achieved both and I don't think there is anything bigger than winning the World Cup for India. Whatever happens beyond that, I don't know what is in store for me. I can't think about milestones. My focus is on enjoying cricket. I don't want to focus on what I have to achieve because I have already achieved what I wanted.
Keywords: Sachin Tendulkar