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January 6, 2009
Sachin Tendulkar, who scored a century in his first outing for Mumbai in nearly two years in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Saurashtra, has said he does not favour neutral venues because of the lack of partisan crowds. Though he has enjoyed playing at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, which Tendulkar said was "one of his favourite grounds in the world", he preferred a venue which was either side's home ground.
"The wicket should be monitored, that is important," Tendulkar said. "But it's fun to have the home crowd supporting you. When you are playing away from home, the crowd is against you. You get that intensity and the atmosphere inside the stadium is different. You learn a lot - sometimes the crowd is behind you, and when you are away from home, the crowd is against you. You are always learning something."
There are no international matches scheduled for India till March when they tour New Zealand and Tendulkar said he decided to play the Ranji semi-final to get some batting practice. "Making a hundred in this game is something I was hoping to do, and I am glad it worked out. When I was holidaying with my family, I hadn't practised at all. I went for practice one afternoon here, and came here and scored runs.
"Obviously, there is less pressure in matches like this, and with the situation we were in when I walked in to bat, I thought I would just go out and play my shots." Tendulkar hit nine fours and five sixes in his 160-ball 122 before retiring ill.
"I was feeling a little uneasy," he said. "I have been having a bit of a headache since the day before. I have been popping Crocins. Probably because of the heat again, it came back. I didn't want to aggravate that, so I had to leave the field."
Tendulkar said he had always enjoyed being part of the Mumbai side. "I grew up playing with these guys - Amol [Muzumdar], Sairaj [Bahutule], Ajit [Agarkar], Zaheer [Khan]. There are plenty of youngsters in the team too. It's fun, talking about cricket, sharing knowledge with each other. It's not just one-way traffic where I am telling them and they are not. It's generally talk about cricket, it can only help you. I don't think by discussing and talking any cricket, it can ever harm you."
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