Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I feel proud

  • when I take that extra round of the ground knowing that the sun is still burning bright
  • when I have a fitness regime much more different and difficult than my fellow mates because I am special to the game.
  • when i get up everyday in the morning knowing that I can have the red cherry in my hand, feel the seam and can smell the leather.
  • when I have my toe nail changing colours as if I have painted them on purpose and then they go missing one fine day!!!
  • when I cut a small portion of my bowling boots to facilitate my toe nail sliding through.( a rather difficult thing to do)
  • when I carry an extra pair of bowling boots in my kit bag not really worrying about how much my kit bag weighs..
  • when I see spikes of my shoes going bad even before the pain to my lower back has bid good bye to my body!!!
  • when I spend hours studying the new bowling boots available in online stores(a little jobless I am sometimes)
  • when I measure my preferred run up in strides and mark the distance from the wicket, as if sending the message across to the person with the stick..'you will have me coming in at you precisely from this distance, hope you have your plans in order'!
  • when i take that long run up towards the wicket due to the need to generate the momentum and rhythm required to do something that only a few are able to..bowl fast!!
  • when my knee joint, ankle and lower body experience a force ten times my body weight and still are just fine for me to come back over after over and do what I like the most in the world.
  • when The batters are set and wickets are hard to come by, I see my captain tossing the ball in my direction. I, then, am back on my mission to prove- Pace is never Dead!!!
  • when i exploit the Corridor of uncertainty' with a smirk on my face as I complete my follow through and see the person with the stick straight in their eyes!!!
  • when I bowl one which greets the batter puzzled unplayable, croqueting around their head..
  • when I rip one through middle stump or just bowl a perfect ball even if it means not getting the batter out..
  • when I see the bails flying high in the sky, and the stick person taking a long walk back to the camp as if saying I give up, you rule here but I shall send my mate to see if a descent fight can be staged!!!
  • when i work tirelessly and flawlessly like a scientist, working in three dimensions, the line, the length and the bounce..
  • because I haven't been taught to bowl fast but I have had this desire and the want to bowl fast!!!
  • because I carry in me something that is rare, that is special, something that when found has to be treasured,valued,appreciated and celebrated!!
  • because I am special...I am a fast bowler at heart!!! 
As Brett Lee says- ' fast bowlers are special beings..well who's the brightest..the guy who bowls 150 kmph or the guy who tries to face him'!!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cricket Maniac!!!

When do you know you are cricket Maniac?*honestly i feel 'cricket maniac' --the term doesn't really describe the madness all that well*
1. When the first thing you do when you get up in the morning is to rush outside to check if its raining!!!
2. When you don't wake up on hearing your mother sing/shout your name in seven different tones, the pitch half a note up higher every time but the morning sports news bulletin succeeds!!
3. When you hold every single thing that is spherical as if you are holding it across the seam*like a swing bowler*..these things range from an apple that you pick up to eat at a friend's place to a paper weight that is placed on your senior's desk.
4. When you, whilst speaking to one of your friend, unknowingly speak with an Australian/English accent *thanks to watching the post match interviews/channel videos on you a 50 times*
5. When you can't help but set up meetings with friends at cricket ground *yeah..I've done that*..and you ask --Hey!! how have you been? whilst watching the bowler deliver a ball *if you are watching a match *or on your follow through after bowling a first ball bouncer to your friend *if you are practicing*!!
6. When you go shameless and ask a friend to come for a session when you know she's celebrating a festival that is meant to be grand.
7. When you convince your friends to skip the movie plan and come for a session *stating that you have mastered a variation over night that you would want them to see*
8. When you *as a kid* play with guys twice your age, and physique just because playing/*more often than not being a chotu fielder some where on the ground*gives you more happiness than any one you are playing with could ever imagine.
9. When you convince your other friend to walk like 5 kilometers to go fetch the monthly magazine on cricket from the city *5 kms is quite a distance when you are just 8*
10. When you go shopping with your friends to this specific shopping mall not because you get really good stuff there to buy*wardrobe wise* or it has good eating outlets but because it houses a big bookstore where you can read or pick up good books *auto-biographies making up the chunk of such purchases*
11. When as an eight year old you can't get enough contributions to go buy a rubber ball *not to forget that you lost a 'brand' new one just after a day's play * and you manage to persuade your mother to get you one by promising all 'A+' in the next tests. 
12. When you can't help but imagine how good a play ground would a runway, a less crowded railway platform or a rather spacious hotel room make!!*I haven't really mentioned a lot of other places here--*India gate for example*
13. When you can't help but check out all the cricketing gear available online!! *I know heights of joblessness still...if signing up for newsletters is better option then...I have done that too* Also lot many things get added to the wish list/ cart every time you visit these sites!!
14. Watching a game would take you into a world that would be unreal but far better than fantasy!! For that hour or so you forget about things that you need to do!!* studying for next day's examination is one that tops the list*
15. When you can spend hours reading articles online about the game, players, anything and everything related to the game!!
16. Every second Hollywood/ Bollywood actor reminds you of some eminent cricketer!! *I still send feedbacks to cricinfo for the section-- dopplegangers..haha..right now I some how find James Anderson pretty similar to Rock of Ages actor- Russell Brand!!*
17. When you as kid , would enjoy the evening strolls with your father discussing cricket!! And on match days when the power supply wouldn't be there, the transistor would accompany you!!
18. When you check this new bowling boot online and you are love struck. You keep getting back to the site until you finally manage to buy it and have it delivered to you *all the way from England, thanks to a friend of yours*
p.s. the blog is not to be considered in'll have points added on frequently  

Monday, June 27, 2011

And only then did i realise....

I have been wanting to write on this topic for a long time now..but..its just that i have been way too....lazy( i am honest, am i not?;D)

My father always said/says that while on the ground your Coach is your father, your mother, your everything. Anything that you are not happy about or uncomfortable with has to be brought to his notice so that you dont carry any extra baggage home( something that i have never been able to do;D). Also 'Respecting the Coach' is a point that makes up like 70% of the good bye SPEECH that he delivers in my mother's presence everytime i am leaving for a tournament(local/state/national)."Whatever you do, win/lose, all of it is immaterial. If you are able to make your Coach and team mates feel proud to have you in the team that will be the greatest achievement ever"- those are his favorite lines..(i am a self- confessed daddy's girl;D)...I have tried doing that all my life!!(my professional cricketing life is just four years old..and i intend to grow older:))

I always saw/ followed cricket- 'THE' game only from tw0 angles- one as a player/learner of the game and second as a follower/spectator of the game!And i thought that was it, i never realised there is a third dimension to it- a Coach's! I guess i was way too ignorant!And boy was i amazed when i discovered it:)...It is similar to say..-A car that was moving on a two dimensional plane whose co-ordinates were described by X and Y ..then all of a sudden wings got added to the car, it became an aeroplane which was now flying in the three- dimensional space thanks to the third dimension- Z!!(*sorry but i have just finished reading a book on Einstein's Theory Of know..:D*)

I have been blessed to have some some real nice coaches from the time i started playing cricket. I learnt a lot just by following the game on television but whatever knowledge that i have about the technical side of the game is all thanks to my coaches!(i sometimes wonder where would i have been if it was not for them)

I had always wondered what would if fell to be a coach and come this summer i got to experience the feeling..big time!This summer has been a real great one in terms of understanding and learning the game. To have Puri di come over and be the head coach for three weeks was a dream come true!!Have never enjoyed my training sessions more..Also to work as a Mentor(yes you read it right:P)..was a life time experience. There is one Ms Anuja Gaunekar, member Goa Cricket Association ,who came up with an idea to hold summer camps for girls at as many centers possible with senior women's team players acting as mentors!!Directed to hunt talented young girls this program succeeded big time!!We were supposed to select girls, who we thought were talented, at the end of the three week camp and send to the main academy for further selections by seniors coaches!!sounds fun right..believe me was!!*i have never considered myself a senior in the team..actually in our team sometimes a more experienced one ends up getting bullied by a new comer..:D..we consider our team mates just as friends, with whom we try enjoying the process of playing cricket and giving in our 100% to win evry time we step in to the ground*

I was supposed to assist one Ms Salma Divkar at Panjim center. We have played a lot of our cricket and have attended a lot many camps together so this assignment sure sounded fun and we were both looking forward to it! So now we were officailly the mentors at panjim we were not coaches but were supposed to work like coaches:).First day was a lot of fun.We made sure we were on time for the sessions(setting examples you see:)). We tried our best to pass on to them whatever we had learnt from our coaches and our experiences on the field!!Basics were something that we stressed a lot on..Everyday the thirty two of us ( yeah thirty plus the two of us) had fun..we played recreational games, competitions after the drill sesssions and the losing team sure did enjoy the punishments, :D..We tried treating them all equally (and so did they:))..I in particular learnt to have patience, and controlled temper is a bliss*there was this session when we taught them(i mean tried teaching them) under arm fielding after the drills got over we made two teams and with the help of the pugg played a game wherein which ever team got the most number of hits after three rounds would be the winner..we tried to tell them to concentrate on the technique more than anything....after a while we too joined them..guess what happened??i missed all the three times and the stare that i was met with was like one of those hollywood movie dialogues-'people who can- they do..People who cant- just advice''ha ha*

It was after this camp that i realised how difficult a job coach does..he has to understand thirty different minds and then try helping them by adopting a method he thinks that the individual will be comfortable with!!

At this point of time i cant help but mention about a coach who was there with us in the zonal cricket academy camp(south zone). And then after i made it to the National cricket academy camp(*i suppose i just got a little lucky and did well) i saw her again. I was simply amazed when she came and congratulated me. But the thing that amazed me the most was she knew my scores and the number of wickets i managed to get..she knew the way i got out batting and the modes of dismissals of my bowling..Can you imagine..she had followed all our matches and had done her homw work well!!she actually by now, knew what areas i would want to work at..simply superb!!

As a famous saying goes- "A good coach will make his students see what they can be, rather than what they are" coaches have taught me that and that is why i dream higher everytime i fall!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Down the memory lane..

a few things that i'll never forget...
*playing gully cricket with big guys.. on roads..getting to bowl only when all of them would be tired and in that process picking up a wicket or two..
*when playing with kids of my age..hogging all the limelight for being the only girl in the group...
*learning the round arm throw from 'Rinchu chacha' and taking pride in being able to throw that way with great precision..
*fighting every single day with my friends on the ground..and still be the first one on the ground the next day!!
*playing cricket with chappels(slippers) on..(never thought wearing shoes was necessary)..and in that process twisting my ankle every second day..and ending up being the keeper(or else the goal keeper if we would decide on playing footie the next day)..
*not being able to play spin bowling from big guys who would be like 6 feet tall and eventually learning to play scoop(ok...i was the one who played it first...even before dilshan did..:D..the only difference is i, was mere 4 feet tall ,could easily get under the ball and played it against the spinners who weren't world class:D)
*playing till 7 o'clock even on exam eve and still managing to get an A+(partly because there wasn't much to study:D )
*getting scolded for 'mastering the art of losing cricket balls every second day and then randomly promising my father a series of A+ in tests to follow!!
*contributing so that we could go buy a new ball and then making sure that i got to keep it after the days play!!
*making 'a hanging ball' with paper and then practicing hard with it..(not counting the number of times i would have broken the string)
*watching the post match presentation ceremony and getting inspired!!coming back home..catching hold of a bottle of water and trying my level best to imitate the international players..wondering how good a speech would i give after i win my first man(/woman) of the match award!!
*fielding always near the boundary line..confused about the sudden change in rules ..still enjoying it all..taking a catch there and blushing after being praised...
*getting up really very early to watch india play test series against australia in australia (1999)!!
*enjoying watching test matches..the way bowlers would set up the batsmen, the patience shown, the field placements..
*having long and lengthy discusssions about the players currrent form and team selections with my father (especially when the power would just go off and i would pick up the transistor ,drag him for a walk and listen to the commentary..)

i can't imagine how i would have grown up without playing the game of cricket!!!Cricket is probably the best thing that could have happened to me..

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

THE game

'THE' game

Cricket- its all about history, tradition and passion...
butterflies in my stomach
proud to wear the country colours
a feeling of honour as you run past the national flag
listening to the fans sing
the ball in my hand, the smell of the leather and the feel of the seam
walking to the middle i no longer hear the crowd
my only thoughts are what i need to do
running to the crease my heart starts to beat faster
the crunch of the ball on the middle of my bat
a force nine times my body weight goes through my front leg
i hold my breath as the ball flies past the fielder
a perfect view as it rattles the stumps
and races to the boundary
flags fly with passion
but i hear nothing
sweat rolls down my forehead
standing in the field and feeling the heat of the sun
furiously shinning the leather
trying to get every last bit out of the ball
another bouncer screams past the batsman's grill
he's survived another ball
i take guard and scratch centre
the pitch crumbles under my shoes
i look around the field to where i can get my next run
taking a break down at the fine leg,copping cheers or jeers from the crowd
just a few more runs
just a few more wickets
running on adrenaline
taking that final catch
hitting the winning boundary
the noice of the crowd erupting

- courtesy CATV

Friday, December 18, 2009


sometimes hundred 'wrongs'.

will average 'right'.

but it would'nt be long,

before the 'actual right' shows its might!!

hope is boundless,

there isnt any doubt.

sooner 'wrongs' would be groundless,

just averaging OUT!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Somewhere there's still a 16-year-old inside'

From loneliness to legspinners, injuries to influences, Sachin Tendulkar opens up as he rarely does.....

Twenty years, can you recount some of the poignant moments, or highlights?

The first and most important moment I'd like to remember right now would be the day I wore my India cap first. It was a dream which had come true, so I was on cloud nine. It was an absolutely fabulous feeling. After that there have been many but the most important one was that. Because growing up as a child the dream was to play for India, and nothing was bigger than that for me, and it continues the same way for me today. I think I'm very fortunate to be living that dream, and 20 years is a long time so there have been many special moments. To actually start counting them would be tough, but I'd definitely say the first day, walking with the playing XI, playing a Test in Pakistan was probably the greatest feeling. The journey began there, and whatever I did after that was a mere reflection of my contribution towards the nation's cause.
What do you remember of the first tour apart from the cricket?

A couple of times we went out shopping, and then obviously interacting with the media because we were not going out much - hardly once or twice in 40-45 days - it's a long time to be in the hotel. We used to have this "Sunday Club", and the media also joined the entire team and we were dressed differently. I was with a moustache, and it was a bit hard to believe for a 16-year-old to have a thick moustache and lipstick and that kind of thing, so it was party time and that's something which I remember because there were so many pictures taken, and every now and then you see them. Other than that I felt the tour was tough and we played some terrific cricket. Over the four Tests it was a drawn series, and I felt that there was no dull moment in the entire series. Lahore was the flattest track where nothing much happened off the wicket, but otherwise the remaining three surfaces we played on had a bit of life, bounce, pace and the cricket was also entertaining.

How have you managed to change with the times?

How difficult was it to do that? Since 1989 plenty of things have changed in the game; that includes the introduction of the third umpire, the hot spot and various things, the introduction of Twenty20. The most noticeable change I feel is because of Twenty20. We've seen plenty of innovative shots, which are occasionally used in Test cricket. In one-day cricket batsmen are backing themselves to try something new, also occasionally in Test cricket. So in a one-day match the average score has definitely gone from 210 to now 265-270 as a par score. To make 265 on a decent surface is not a great score as such.
Also, in Tests you see more results now. There was a phase where you used to hear that Test matches are getting boring because there are no results, but I don't think that is the case now. There are results in virtually every match, and that is probably because it is played more aggressively and batsmen are willing to take more chances. With time I have also changed, and everyone sitting in this room, we've all changed for the better. And I've tried to make myself a better cricketer. There is always room for improvement, and I've always believed that whenever I go out and practise, there has to be a purpose. The process continues, it's never-ending because every day there is a fresh challenge and you need to be on your toes. You've got to be moving forward, and that is what I've tried to do.

How do you stay on your toes for 20 years?

It was definitely a lot of hard work and there are certain things that all sportsmen have to follow: dedication, discipline, your focus on the game, your priorities in life. All those factors are extremely important, and for me I felt I was very lucky to have a family like [I do]. My brother always guided me, my father always supported me, my mother always fed me well. There's this combination of inner forces contributing in different directions. Mother doesn't understand much about cricket, but she prays for my success and India's success, so all these things are important. Long discussions with my brother on cricket and then support from the other brother and my sister - I represent all of them when I go out to the middle, but then there are those difficult moments which I feel are challenging, and [I wonder] what should I be doing in these moments, and that is what I share with my wife, my entire family, and that is one reason I've been able to last for such a long time. I cannot fail to thank the people of India for all the affection and love, the support. Whatever I do, whatever level I perform, you need people around you to share your happiness with them and I've got more than a billion people to share that with, so that means a lot to me. Because of all these things you are inspired to go out and do something special for all the people.

Has it been hard to stay humble over the years?

Well I've not made any effort to stay humble, it's just my upbringing. In the early stage of my career when I hadn't played for India, I was just playing school cricket, I was still scoring a lot of runs but nobody got carried away in my family over success. It's quite easy for a 12- or 13-year-old boy to get carried away when he sees his picture printed in the newspaper, because it's something special, but that is where I felt my family made sure my feet were on the ground. We always celebrated by distributing sweets, it wasn't very fancy, and that was where it stopped. Everyone was happy and enjoyed that moment, but the next day was what happens in the next game, and how do you get better in the next game, and that process has continued. That's something which has kept me grounded, and needless to say, just watching my father - my father didn't teach me - but just looking at him and watching him closely I picked up a lot of things, and the most important thing he told me was: "It's your nature which is going to stay permanently with you, the rest will come and go."
David Boon tells a story about you asking him for advice on facing West Indies. Can you elaborate on that?

David Boon… When I was in Australia in 1991, I hadn't played many West Indian fast bowlers. The only time I had played a West Indian was when we played county cricket against Derbyshire (in 1990) when Ian Bishop was there, and I played one exhibition game in Canada against West Indies. But other than that in an international match I hadn't played a West Indian. In Australia we were playing a triangular series where West Indies joined us and they had some terrific players, world-class fast bowlers. I'd watched Boon quite closely, and I thought I should be picking up things from the top players in the world and I wanted to get as much information as possible and become a better cricketer. I thought it was a good chance to speak to him, and get to know how to face certain bowlers on Australian tracks.

Who has been the biggest influence on you as a player?

I think it's my brother Ajit, with whom I discuss a lot of cricket and he knows my batting possibly better than any other person in the world, and he understands my mindset as well, so I talk a lot with him. Then there are the other players from India. Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, they travel with us whenever we're out there playing, it's good to have them there to share an opinion or get their views on how we are playing as a team and an individual. That has helped over the years, and there have been so many other senior players who have been coaches, so all those guys have been helpful. As far as help and guidance is concerned, there hasn't been an instance where a senior player has said I'm not interested or I've not been watching you and don't want to share any opinions. They've always been helpful and shared their ideas, which has played an important role.
Regarding practising with purpose, one of the more celebrated instances was having legspinners bowl at you into the rough from round the wicket before you faced Warne in 1998.

In 1998 I prepared differently, we were practising in Chennai and before that I practised in Mumbai. All my Ranji Trophy colleagues, I used to ask them to bowl round the wicket into the rough, because that was something which I hadn't faced for a long time. In spite of having been around for almost nine years at that stage, I hadn't played any legspinner that would bowl round the wicket in the rough, so I made all the bowlers do that. Then when we went to Chennai, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan bowled to me. He gave wonderful practice. So all those sessions really helped and the purpose behind that was just to get used to those angles and the areas, and identify which are the areas from which I can attack and which are the areas I need to defend.
Between Warne and Murali, who did you consider the most dangerous and why?

I'm of the opinion that if someone goes past 500-600 wickets, how do you differentiate? Both guys are special, both are match-winners and both are world champions. I would not like to pick one, I believe in respecting an individual's strengths, and the way they both have motivated youngsters in various parts of the world is just incredible. I would just sit back and applaud them.

If they were both bowling at either end, who would you rather not face?I think I would probably go and sit in the dressing room [laughs].
Tell us about the time you were hit by Waqar [Younis] ]in 1989.

I still remember that incident. Ajit had come to watch me for the first time. I could see him sitting in front of the dressing room. India were in a fragile position in the second innings at 39 for 4 with a day and half still left when I got hit on the nose. Even before that I had been hit on the nose in school cricket on bad practice wickets, an experience that had got rid of the fear. So when I was hit by Waqar, that got me more competitive and I decided not to move from the middle and I would continue to fight.
In 1989, before you played Pakistan, there was speculation you might be picked to face the West Indies, did you think at that time that you were ready?

I remember the late Raj Singh Dungarpur was the chairman of selectors at that time, and we were playing Ranji Trophy semi-finals against Delhi in Mumbai and he walked up to me and said, "I know there has been talk and there've been articles in the papers that you may go to West Indies, but I want to tell you that you won't be going because we still feel that it's too early and it's important for you to prepare for your SSC exams." So I did that. Before that also I'd known him for quite some time. So his guidance and encouragement meant a lot to me, and what he said was: "There'll be Irani Trophy, I'm sure you will be a part of it, and go out there and enjoy yourself, give your case, and good things will happen."
What was different about batting at international level or did you just find that this was too easy?

Nothing is easy and you have to work hard for it. I'm a person who hates taking anything for granted, I want to prepare to the best of my ability. I was always confident about my ability. I wanted to go out and express myself to the best of my ability, and if the pre-match preparation was good then I was in a position to go out and deliver, and that is something I focussed on. Even today I do that. There may be innings where you don't do well, that's fine, but as long as you have given 100%, that is what matters to me. That is something which has been happening right from my school days.
I realised early that I could hit every ball, in school cricket and to a certain extent in Ranji Trophy, I would go out and attack, but after going to Pakistan and New Zealand, England, Australia, those first few series and also South Africa, it taught me a lot. It taught me to be more selective, taught me to build an innings, and also taught me to respect bowlers. I think to respect a bowler when he's bowling very well is a wise thing to do, which I learned, and it's something which happens with age and experience. You need to have that exposure, and I felt that the first few tours really helped me.

How have you separated your cricket from everything that happens around you?

I don't know, cricket lives in my heart and whenever I'm on a cricket field I enjoy it, and somewhere there's still a 16-year-old hidden inside who wants to go out and express himself, so I do that and it comes naturally and I don't make any special effort to show enthusiasm. It's been my life and I enjoy every moment, I enjoy challenges, it's a package deal, ups and downs, wonderful moments and there are disappointments, so all that makes you a stronger person and you learn to deal with various things in life.
Do you feeling lonely when you do well and the team still loses?

I have never been asked this question before. But, actually, yes you feel bad because I've done well but the team hasn't well. But I play for the team and it is not about individuals. You got to win as a team. So you are not excited and you cannot share that wonderful moment with people because you've lost the game. It is a difficult thing. But on the brighter side when you have one billion people to share your joy there is no better than that. But when that doesn't happen you look forward to the next game, and try and make sure that you perform better as a team and do something special which can make all of us smile.
What would you rank as your most memorable innings?

There are a few innings where I've really done well and where the team has won. In that respect the 2003 World Cup game against Pakistan was the biggest match of my life.
Going back to the earlier part of my career, the second Test, at Faislabad, I scored only 58 or 59. But in the previous Test I had got out early and I had actually questioned myself whether I belonged here. I felt out of place, tense, and didn't know what was happening and it wasn't a great experience. In the second Test I went out and decided that come what may I'm going to be there. I had already spoken to a lot of players, and they had told me: "Just be there for 15-20 minutes, things would start getting better." So I decided I was not going to get worried about runs, and at what rate I was going to score them. That particular innings was the turning point of my life because after that I felt I do belong here. It is just a matter of tackling the first few minutes, of judging the pace, bounce, spin. I was new to Test cricket and something like that needed to happen to make me feel good and make me believe that I belonged here.
Could you share with us some of your memories from childhood?

My childhood was spent in Sahitya Sahwas colony in Bandra East. Every moment with my friends was special. Cricket started for me there, I broke a lot of glass panes of neighbouring houses, but all the seniors appreciated the competition on display. It was a good atmosphere and the passion for cricket started there.
My actual cricket started when I was 11. My brother spotted the spark in me and then he took me to [Ramakant] Achrekar sir. Those three to four years under him were really important for my development. He would hide behind trees to see our games, and then point out the errors later on. We would have fun but it was guarded.
Tell us about the first century of your life.

I was unbeaten on 96 overnight and couldn't sleep. We [Sharadashram English] were playing against Don Bosco, and I was impatient to get to my first ever century. Another reason for my impatience was I had invited Achrekar sir to dinner at my home, but he said the day I score a century he would come. Next morning my father took me to pay obeisance at a Ganpati temple. I scored the century in the very first over. The first thing I told Achrekar sir on going back to the change room was he now had no way out but to come to my house.
Does the relentless media introspection suffocate you?

This is the way I've known my life from the age of 14. That is when I started playing my first-class cricket when I was part of Mumbai Ranji Trophy team. But I'm comfortable with it. I don't do anything differently, I just do whatever I'm comfortable with. People have appreciated me for what I'm so I don't make any special effort to change. I believe every individual should respect the other in whatever you say or do and you have to think twice. I'm not aggressive off the field because I need to conserve it for the play on the field

What is the secret behind your success as a cricketer?

Plenty of hours on the field, not as many hours in the gym! It is a combination of long practice sessions, workouts and playing as many matches - practice and live - as possible. One important thing my coach Ramakant Achrekar introduced me to was the concept of match temperament. The reason my brother [Ajit Tendulkar] took me to him [Achrekar] was solely because he made all his students play as many practice matches as possible. I would attend my school in the morning, go to the ground in the afternoon and bat at No. 4 in a practice match. That gave me the confidence to go out in the middle and perform in a match and also taught me how to read various situations in a match. Because every afternoon the conditions were different situation, different theme, and I had to bat differently. So all those factors were extremely important in making me the cricketer that I am today, and however much I thank him [Achrekar] it is not enough.
Was opening for the first time a big step?

In 1994 we were playing in Auckland. I was the vice-captain then and just before the ODI I got to know that [Navjot Singh] Sidhu was not fit as he had woken up with a stiff neck. I requested both Azhar [Mohammad Azharuddin] and Ajit Wadekar [captain and coach] to "just give me one opportunity. I'm very confident as in the first 15 overs I can play some big shots. I feel I'll be able to deliver. And if I fail I'll never ever come to you again". They both agreed graciously, and I was able to go out and perform. It helped me as a cricketer because you go out and face the new ball and at the same time you are looking at putting the ball away. Those days the first over one would look to leave as many balls as possible and not lose wickets early on and then gradually accelerate. But things started changing around that time with [Mark] Greatbach in 1992 World Cup and then [Sanath] Jayasuriya in 1996 to play big shots in the first 15 overs and I did the same once I started opening. To do that you had to move in quickly and get in the right position. Overall that decision helped my game because in ODIs I was facing the new ball and batting No. 4 in Test cricket. Overall I was enjoying the balance.
Are you satisfied with your two captaincy stints?

It was a great honour to captain the country. There were some wonderful moments. The very first Test itself was memorable, in Delhi. Then we won the Titan Cup in India against the two toughest opponents - Australia and South Africa. Then, in Toronto, when we beat Pakistan in the Sahara Cup. There were many occasions where we came close to winning, but just couldn't cross the final hurdle. It was an experience full of highs and lows.