Kuala Lumpur: Returning from injury is the hardest thing a sportsman has to do. That, and timing his exit. Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 93 the last time he made a comeback (against Sri Lanka in October 2005) and an unbeaten 141 at the Kinrara Oval, touched on both issues when he spoke to newsmen on Thursday night.
"It will be a special hundred because it's come after a six-month break, and also because it came on a difficult track", said Tendulkar. "Coming back is a challenge, specially when you're coming out of a serious injury. I'm feeling absolutely fine. As far as playing strokes are concerned, I have no problem with any of them (after the surgery)".
When asked about his zest for the game, the 33-year-old said, "Cricket has been my life. Let's be honest I'm living a dream. Every time I go out on the field, there is enthusiasm. If I find it a burden, I'll know when to step back. I'm enjoying it at the moment, and want to keep going".
The innings marked the second instance of Tendulkar carrying his bat through an innings. "I'm quite happy that I batted through 50 overs", he said. "Running hard towards the end, I've always wanted to do it".
The moment of joy was tempered, however, by the fact that India lost.
The West Indies skipper Brian Lara said the match was well poised, with both sides having a shot at victory. "They had the runs on the board, so obviously, they would have fancied their chances. We always had an eye out on the Duckworth-Lewis score, and we knew rain was going to be part of the mix at this time in Malaysia. Obviously, India wanted the match to go, whereas for us it didn't really matter".
On his good mate Tendulkar, Lara said, "We suffered at his hands. He played magnificently, especially to come back after six months and play it on a difficult track".
Both Lara and Tendulkar played down the ridge on the track, with Lara saying it was an aberration. "Ninety per cent of the pitch was really good, except for the ridge. Even that wasn't that much (of a factor) for the lefties", said Lara. Was he informed about it before the game? "Before the game, no. During the game, we had a chat on what our options were. We were told to continue. At that stage they were 72 for no loss in 13, so they would have wanted to continue". He added the option of playing on an adjacent track was assessed and negated by the authorities.
Tendulkar said: "I knew there was a ridge before I faced the first ball. It was quite obvious, but we had to try and keep it out of our minds. You never knew what would happen if the ball hit the ridge. We had to plan accordingly".