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    Sachin should continue for another year

    The former Pakistan pacer said the Indian team is very inexperienced right now and needs Tendulkar as never before.

    New Delhi: Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis feels that form of the Indian team is such that they require the services of Sachin Tendulkar for another year, a feeling that was also echoed by his new ball colleague and another former skipper Wasim Akram.

    "The situation in which the Indian team finds itself at the moment...from what we find out from the ongoing England series, I believe that he [Tendulkar] would be needed for another 6-8 months," Waqar said while answering to a query.

    Wasim on his part said, "As a cricketer, he is one of the greatest of all times. I don't know what he is feeling at the moment but it's difficult to carry on with the same passion after giving 23 years to the international cricket. If you ask me, he can play for another 6-8 months or a year."

    "I have heard some people saying that he is eyeing 200 Test matches. Whether he plays 200 or 250 Test matches, that will hardly make any difference to me because he has shattered all the records in the cricket book," Wasim said in a programme organised by TV Today Group here.

    "What he [Tendulkar] wants to do and how long he wants to play, it's up to him but the age is not on his side. It does affect your game at the international level," he further added.

    Waqar feels that ability to shut his critics makes Tendulkar special.

    "These talks that Sachin should take retirement from cricket have been going on for past 6-7 years. I have always seen that whenever you have criticised him, he has come up with a performance that everyone starts talking about his batting."

    Wasim and Waqar expressed their delight at the resumption of bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan and said the two neighbours should play each other regularly.

    "The Indo-Pak cricket match is mother of all games. It's unfortunate that less cricket was played between the two neighbours since 2004. Hopefully, the upcoming series will herald a new era in Indo-Pak ties. You can feel the pressure when the two sides are involved in a contest. There's nothing much entertaining than that. It's same as the Ashes series," said Waqar.

    Wasim said, "It's a new beginning and I hope that we play each other on a regular basis. The beauty of Indo-Pak series lies in the pressure we go through. Whenever we had played against India, we were always told back home to go and win."

    Also sharing the dais were the former India captains, Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly.

    Azhar thanked the BCCI and PCB for the efforts they made to resume the bilateral cricket ties and said it will help in bridging the gap between the two countries.

    "I am happy with it and hope the upcoming series becomes a regular affair. It's a positive step," he said.

    Kapil, while blaming the media for always projecting the Indo-Pak series as "Mahayudh", said that people of both sides want to see the game of cricket and nothing else.

    "You [media] have treated it as more than a series which is wrong. There are only five per cent people who don't want to see the neighbours united but there are still 95 per cent people on both sides who want cordial relationship between us," said Kapil.

    Ganguly, who led the team to victory against Pakistan in 2004, said it's always special to play them and come out victorious.

    When asked about the dearth of fast bowlers in India, Wasim said India always looked up to Sachin or Sunil Gavaskar as their role models while aspiring Pakistani cricketers had Imran Khan's image in mind.

    On the Indian Premier League, Wasim said, "I have nothing against the IPL but when you are earning three crore per season, then why would one play Test matches and bowl for 30 overs."

    Asked about the favourites for the upcoming series starting December 25 with a T20 in Bangalore, all the former captains unanimously agreed that whoever handles the pressure, will win.

    "The pressure is a great equaliser. It's all about handling the pressure," said former Pakistan skipper, Imran Khan, from the audience.

    "I think India has the edge in leadership and in terms of current form," said Ganguly.

    Wasim said that apart from the home advantage, India have a superior batting line-up.

    "...but Pakistan have a solid bowling line-up. It's going to be a battloe between bat and bowl. But I am going with 60:40 in favour of India."

    Kapil said that earlier matches between India and Pakistan were a matter of life and death as no one wanted to lose to their estranged brothers.

    "It has changed now and for me, may the best team wins in the upcoming series."

    On the proposal to christen an Indo-Pak series in the name of Kapil and Imran, BCCI vice president Rajiv Shukla said from the audience that the BCCI will discuss the idea at its next Working Committee meeting.

    "We will discuss it and let you know. It's for the first time that I have been suggested this idea," he said.