September 3, 2002

Tendulkar set to become youngest to play 100 Tests

The man many regard as the finest batsman of his generation reaches another milestone in a record-breaking career when he walks out at The AMP Oval this week. But when Sachin Tendulkar embarks upon his 100th Test on Thursday he will also be the youngest man ever to achieve the feat. Without doubt it will be a special occasion for the 29-year-old.

"Reaching 100 Test matches would be special for anyone because not many players have played that many. I have enjoyed and cherished every moment and it was one of my dreams to play 100 Test matches for India. That's when you can feel you have achieved something in life and contributed to the best of your ability."

Tendulkar is conscious of the fact that India will be looking for their first series win outside the sub-continent since 1986, when England were also the opponents.

"Winning is all about delivering when the situation demands and I feel we have a better balanced team to deliver now," said Tendulkar. "Whether it is England, Australia, Bangladesh or Kenya it doesn't matter, winning at international level is special and we want to carry on winning.

"It's not going to be easy, there are five days of cricket left and probably the most important five days of the series. We will have to pull up our socks and play the kind of cricket we played for five days at Headingley.

"It's important, we have been trying for so many years to win a series overseas and now the time has come where we stand a chance and a fair chance, I would say."

That chance has been set up by India's innings victory over England at Headingley last week, to which Tendulkar contributed 193.

"The last Test match was very good, the ideal Test match one would hope for," he said. "To bat first, score big runs, put the opposition in, get them out and then finish them off. The batters got runs, the bowlers took wickets and we held some good catches.

"It was a complete team effort so I think that was a perfect Test match. I would say it was the best Test match I have played in."

Tendulkar's 193 was his 30th Test century, taking him past another record held by the great Don Bradman.

"It's always good when the players and your countrymen are expecting something from you, life would be quite boring if no-one expected anything from you. That has helped me, although at times the expectations of me have been very high.

"What I try to do is live up to my own expectations and set targets which are achievable and try and live up to that. To try and live up to other people's expectations can be very tough and I don't want to put pressure on myself, I want to be realistic."

Tendulkar admits that his demi-god status back home, where is face is a constant feature of advertisements, imposes restrictions on his lifestyle.

"I can't live a normal life because the game is followed back home in such a big way," he admitted. "There are pluses and minuses obviously, it is an advantage being in this position because not many guys can be in this position in India so I want to thank all the people for helping me to be here. It is difficult, though, because I can't do a thing a normal family man would do."