With a dream fulfilled, a mission accomplished and probably the most elusive milestone achieved, India’s ‘Milestone Man’ Sachin Tendulkar wants to savour the World Cup victory for eternity and terms the moment as the reason why he started playing cricket.
Talking exclusively to CNN-IBN’s Sanjeeb Mukherjea, the master sits back and lives through that magical moment on April 2 in Mumbai when India was crowned the World Champion.
CNN-IBN: Congratulations, for a fantastic win! It’s no more a dream, it’s a reality. Has it sunk in for you?
Sachin: It hasn’t sunk in yet, honestly. I don’t know how to react to this. In fact, just when the tournament got over and we actually held the trophy, we had to actually pinch ourselves. Now that the tournament is over, we don’t know what to look forward to, what is next in life.
Pre-tournament, the preparation was such that we were so engrossed in planning things and working out certain things, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. All of a sudden, you come to know that the tournament is over and you have won the cup. It’s difficult to believe but it’s a wonderful dream.
CNN-IBN: It’s very, very difficult obviously to analyse the mind of a champion like you. But tell us when you guys were standing with the trophy in front of 35,000 to 40,000 people inside the stadium and you knew every Indian was watching it on live television, what went through your mind?
Sachin: The proudest moment of my life, by far, because I think the reason for me to start playing cricket with proper seasoned ball was to lift this beautiful trophy one day and do it for the nation. Every cricketer wants to do that and I have waited for long 22 years. It’s a rather long period to wait. But the best part was I continued chasing my dream. My dream was to lift the trophy and God was kind enough to allow me to do that on 2nd of April.
CNN-IBN: Wasn’t it a bit of stress reliever also when you finally got it?
Sachin: We weren’t stressed as such. Yes, there was bit of pressure. But pressure of expectations from our team itself, within the team. We wanted to somehow win this trophy for the nation, for each other in the dressing room. The preparation started long time ago it didn’t start just 5 days before the World Cup. We had this on our mind since almost last 12 months or 15 months and that’s when we actually started planning little bit. All I can say is whatever we had planned, the execution was equally important. You may have a lot of plans but to go out and execute those plans is extremely important.
And we were able to do that. We took it in turns because all eleven players are never going to have a wonderful day. There would be guys who won’t live up to the expectations and there would be guys who would exceed the expectations. There were guys who were playing well on that particular day. We had just decided that those guys are meant to finish the game for us on that day and then it’s someone else’s turn the next day.
CNN-IBN: On Sunday, Yuvraj Singh told in an interview that Sachin is my inspiration. In fact, Team India told everyone, even before the tournament started, we are going to do it for Sachin and we could see the intent in their eyes.
You have been playing for 22 years; you have played with Srikkanth, you are now playing with Sreesanth. You have played for generations and you still continue to inspire people. How do you manage it? Give us a little insight into Sachin. How does he do it?
Sachin: I am passionate about playing cricket. I am passionate about playing cricket for India, winning matches for India. And if that passion is alive, it’s not that difficult to motivate yourself. I have always considered myself extremely lucky to be playing for such a long time. Putting in hard work is in my hands but then the results I don’t know. I don’t think there is anyone who can go out and say that today I am going to score a hundred or get five or six wickets. If you are destined to achieve those things, it happens. But trying is in my hands; there I can guarantee you every day of my life I will go and give 100 per cent. My mantra is as simple as that.
CNN-IBN: In 2007, we remember those images very vividly that were shown on live television and every Indian fan saw tears in your eyes. This time around also we saw tears in your eyes, different emotions four years later. How do you describe this journey?
Sachin: This victory is way sweeter than we had all imagined. I think it is beyond anyone’s imagination. I don’t know how to express myself but I am really, really excited and thrilled about this. I think for any of our cricketers, this definitely is the biggest day of our lives. It means so much to the entire nation and all the well-wishers across the globe. I am thankful to the almighty for showering his blessings on us.
CNN-IBN: They say fairytales do not happen anymore but here was Sachin playing the World Cup final on his home ground in front of the entire Indian public who were watching him and he finally won the World Cup. What is with you and your scripts forever. Are you destined to always do that in that way?
Sachin: I remember in 2007 we went through a tough period. All credit to Gary Kirsten and the support staff who worked with him. For some time, we had the Indian support staff and then the South African support staff as well.
They all got together and worked very hard with us and made sure that we were in that space that we were able to go out and perform and give our best. To create that environment in the dressing room is very, very important. That’s something which happened to us. We were allowed to express ourselves in the middle which is where it matters but for that, lot of preparation goes behind the scenes. There are many guys who may not enter the field but their contribution is immense and that was the reason we had these happy tears in our eyes.
CNN-IBN: Be it a politician or people from all across the social barriers or language divides in India, you unite all of them. You make people dream from a kid to a middle-aged guy or to even older. You have 99 centuries. I am sure you have something in mind. What’s your next target?
Sachin: I know everyone was looking forward to the 100th hundred but it is not about 100 hundreds. It was about World Cup and I am extremely happy that we were able to live up to their expectations and lift the trophy. That is the most important thing to me. Whatever happens after now, as I said earlier in the interview, trying hard is in my hands and that I can guarantee you 100 per cent I will be there. But destiny I don’t know. What I am destined to achieve, I leave it to the almighty. I just want to continue enjoying the game. I have enjoyed cricket a lot, especially in the last 3 years or so.
CNN-IBN: How do you do it day after day? People ask you.
Sachin: Because I am passionate about playing cricket. It’s my love. I grew up dreaming about doing this for the country and I continue doing that.
CNN-IBN: In 1989 when you started, Srikkanth was your captain. You went to Pakistan and played with that Indian team. You have been with Team India for a long, long time now. Now you are with this present team. If you could tell us about this current lot. Besides being a World Cup winning team, what is it in this team that you like very much?
Sachin: I think definitely there are match-winners in this team and some really talented players. Obviously, earlier we had some players but I think in the current team, there are more match-winners and that is what you want in a team.
CNN-IBN: Final word to you Sachin before we let you off. It’s been a long road but I am sure we will not want you to sort of stop playing or anything like that because just a year ago you brought back life to this one-day format with that fantastic double hundred against South Africa. I am not asking you about your immediate goals because in another 4 to 5 days you will be playing in the IPL. What does Sachin Tendulkar think about himself standing 5 years later?
Sachin: I don’t know. I will still be Sachin Tendulkar, I guess.
CNN-IBN: Will you still be playing in the World Cup? Sir Viv Richards told CNN-IBN that I might actually come back to India and see Sachin playing the next World Cup.
Sachin: I don’t know; it is too far. But I am enjoying right now and I want to enjoy this moment. I think that is the most important thing. This is a rare moment in all our lives and I think we have to appreciate the fact that something special has happened to this nation and just enjoy the moment. CNN-IBN