A billion hearts will beat for Sachin Tendulkar as India bid for their second World Cup title in the all-Asian final against buoyant Sri Lanka on Saturday. Tendulkar returns to his home turf at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai determined to add the only silverware missing from the collection of the most celebrated cricketer of the modern era.
The star, who turns 38 next month, holds almost all coveted batting records, but not even his individual brilliance could win the ultimate prize in a team sport like cricket.
In five previous appearances in cricket’s showpiece event, Tendulkar helped India reach the semi-final at home in 1996 and finish runners-up to Australia in 2003 in South Africa.
When India won the World Cup under Kapil Dev in 1983, Tendulkar was 10 years old, but five of his current team-mates — Ravichandran Ashwin, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla and Munaf Patel — were not even born.
Playing in his sixth and possibly last World Cup, a record he shares with Pakistan great Javed Miandad, Tendulkar has led from the front to lift India into the final.
His 464 runs in the tournament are just three behind Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan’s 467, and he goes into the title clash one ton away from recording an unprecedented 100 international centuries.
Tendulkar’s lucky 85 in Wednesday’s semi-final against Pakistan, when he was dropped four times and survived close leg-before and stumping decisions, suggests he was destined to play the final.
“It will be a fantasic occasion,” Tendulkar said of the match in his home city.
“We will focus on the job in hand and try to get the job done.” Agencies