DUNEDIN, Dec 20 1998
The Kiwi media was bowled over by the humility of the man. Meeting Sachin Tendulkar was what everyone had been looking forward to since the Indians landed at Auckland and the little master did not disappoint them. He came out of it with flying colours.
Tendulkar was polished as always. He made effort to please every scribe who asked him a question and at the end of it he had lots of friends in the Kiwi media.
He began by giving his views on what he thought of the rankings. ''I have aimed at being among the best, if not the best. I look towards doing well for the country. Once I am in the middle I play my shots. I like to play my natural game. I don't give much thought about what people think about my batting because there is room for improvement for everyone.''
Then he was asked about what he thought of the politics behind Pakistan's tour to India. He lost no time ''I am not into politics at all. It should be a good series, a great contest. It is a different ball game when India plays Pakistan.''
Tendulkar was candid when he said ''I don't think of the happenings off the field. As long as my commitment doesn't die for the game I shall continue to play. The day I feel I am not giving hundred per cent I shall step aside.''
When a scribe asked Tendulkar what he thought about records, the reply was crisp ''my goal has always been to win the match for India. I don't play for records and I don't think about records. If they happen they happen. The main thing is that our team should win. My motivation comes from so many countrymen backing me and the team. I really appreciate that.''
On the current tour and the status of the New Zealand attack, which one scribe suggested was weak, Tendulkar said ''you just need one good ball to get out. That's it. I have come here with an open frame of mind to go out there and enjoy my batting. Not to underestimate anybody. I aim to try and spend time in the middle. Test cricket is different and much important. I try and score as many runs as possible in Tests because those are the runs that count.''
When would he get his double century in Tests? ''I know it has just not happened. Once I get the first there should be many more to follow. Just waiting for the first one. It happened in one-day cricket also when I couldn't get my first hundred for the first 70 games or so and then the next 130 games I scored 21.''
Tendulkar also made a plea to stop making comparisons. ''You must enjoy the style of play. I wouldn't want myself to be compared with anybody because it's very hard. One shouldn't be compared to anyone I feel. I have my own style. People should just go to the ground and enjoy and stop worrying about comparisons. I think the players should be left alone.''
As he took leave of the media to take his family out for dinner, one recalled the words of this doting father of 14-month-old Sara. ''My daughter has changed my life.'' It sure has.