Every time Sachin Tendulkar walks out to bat he has the hopes of billions rested on his shoulders, yet when India co-host the World Cup next year expectations will reach even greater levels. The final will be hosted in Mumbai, Tendulkar's home town, but he is refusing to let his mind wander towards the prospect of a moment that would crown his career.

"As far as the World Cup is concerned it is a process. We don't want to jump to the 50th floor straight away, we must start on the ground floor," he said. "We must take it step-by-step but to get there would be a fascinating journey. It is our dream, not just mine but the entire nation, to get there. To play the final in Mumbai is something you can only dream of and everything has to come together.

"But if we can play to the best of our potential then I think we can do something we have been longing to do for quite some time."

Tendulkar is currently taking a break from the game but will return to Indian colours for the Test series against Sri Lanka next month. The five-day format has suddenly taken on a much greater priority in India - although Tendulkar, himself, has always been adamant it is the main brand of the game - after the team reached No. 1 in the world.

They will look to consolidate that position against Sri Lanka before a mouth-watering contest in South Africa at the end of the year as the top two ranked teams go head-to-head over three Tests at Centurion, Durban and Cape Town. It will be a huge challenge for India to compete in foreign conditions against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, but Tendulkar doesn't want to let the top spot slip away after working so hard for the honour.

"To be number one is special, it was our dream and our target to get to the number one spot in Test cricket," he said. "We have had a good run in the last 20 months. Everyone wants to be number one and we cannot relax because there are other countries who want to be number one. It means a lot to us."

At 37, it won't be too long before Tendulkar calls time on his stellar career. He has already cut back his Twenty20 commitments and doesn't play that format internationally, while he also declined a deal with Middlesex this season to spend more time with his family. However, for the time being he has no plans to end his Test or one-day days.

"I want to play for as long as possible and as long as I have the desire and the hunger I will carry on," he said. "The day I do not want to get out of bed and do anything then I know it will be time to go in another direction."

Sachin Tendulkar is an RBS brand ambassador and was speaking in London to mark 30 years of NatWest involvement in English cricket

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo