March 24, 2003

I would've been happier if India had won the World Cup - Tendulkar

Sandeep Nakai

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa March 23, AP - Sachin Tendulkar says he'd trade his Man-of-the-Series honour for another shot at the Aussies.

The Indian batting maestro had an unassailable lead in the race for World Cup's top individual prize before Sunday's World Cup 125-run final loss to Australia.

Tendulkar had 669 runs leading into the title match but, with India chasing a massive 360-run target, the opener was out for four, and on the fifth ball of the innings.

It was a first appearance in the final in four World Cups for the world's No. 1 batsman, and perhaps he deserved better.

But he decided to go out in an attacking frame of mind. Tendulkar and opener Virender Sehwag agreed to go for their strokes as India chased Australia's 359 for two - the highest-ever total in a World Cup final.

Tendulkar struck one boundary but fell in the first over as he top-edged an attempted pull shot and gave Glenn McGrath an easy return catch.

"Its an honor to be named the Man-of-the-Tournament, but I would have been happier if India had won the World Cup trophy," Tendulkar said.

The 29-year-old right-hander said he didn't look at his performance as a batsman who had failed to score runs, but as a member of a team that had lost the final.

"I don't play as an individual," he said. "We all play as India, I'm part of that team."

He said the Indian bowlers had performed credibly during the World Cup, but were wayward in the title contest.

"I felt the bowlers were under tremendous pressure from the start. They found it tough to put the ball in the right area," he said. "They've bowled really well throughout the tournament, it was just one of those off days."

Securing two points in Thursday's semifinal against Kenya, in which he scored 83 runs and claimed two wickets, gave Tendulkar 14 points - four clear of the second-place Sourav Ganguly, the Indian captain, in the tournament's player rankings.

"We wanted this to be the best World Cup ever, and Sachin's brilliant batting has helped the tournament captivate millions of people around the cricketing world," the World Cup's chief organiser Ali Bacher said before the final. "He thoroughly deserves the accolade."

The award, a gold trophy, was presented to Tendulkar by former West Indies captain Sir Garfield Sobers at the conclusion of the final.

Tendulkar scored a tournament record 673 runs, including one century and six 50s. He is also the leading scorer in World Cup history and held the previous record for most runs in a tournament with his 523 in 1996.