A day after that epic win over Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, the euphoria hadn't died down. It never does after such a magnificent victory.
Within the confines of his room in the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, he was surely looking at his phone that rang endlessly, interspersed with the countless SMS'es he was receiving. A special invitation to the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's residence was slotted for the evening, where he was the only invitee, to be followed by a dinner hosted by the Asian Cricket Council, alongwith the entire team. But even in the middle of so many things, Sachin Tendulkar managed to find some time for a special interview on his hundredth hundred.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: The magic milestone, as much anticipated, finally came and will perhaps stay for posterity. And the magic moment, something which is going to live with each and every Indian cricket fan, and of course, the man sitting with me, Sachin Tendulkar himself, forever perhaps. Thank you for bringing us so much of joy – finally you got it.
Sachin Tendulkar: (Smiles) Yes, thank you so much, first of all. And yes, finally, because the wait was quite long. My own expectations also, I thought, you know that it should have happened earlier, but there are certain things which God has plans for, for every little thing in life, and maybe it was that way.
One thing I can be proud of is my efforts and my commitment in that phase, where it was really really tough, didn't fade away. It was very much there. I was hundred per cent there all the time, working hard, putting in all the required efforts that I could have. So, you know, I have got no regrets there. I am glad it's come this way.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: What came to your mind after you got to the hundredth hundred? What did you tell yourself?
Sachin Tendulkar: I thanked God as I reached it. I was remembering my father as I stood there in the middle of the stadium. And the rest of my reaction says it all (smiles). I mean, I was wondering about the fact that after scoring 99 hundreds, there was such a gap. It took a while, but cricket teaches you everything in life. It was a patch that teaches you, even the value of a hundred.
I had to wait for so long. My batting was fine, but overall, it was like a package of ups and downs. This journey over the past one year has been pretty difficult. But I'm glad, I got to see that day (smiles).
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: Lovely to see you react the way you did after getting the century. Sachin, for every Indian cricket fan, you are perhaps the closest to divinity on the cricket field. But were you yourself bothered since there was a fair bit of anticipation and hype about the wait. Was the man himself as bothered?
Sachin Tendulkar: See, I got my 99th hundred a year ago against South Africa. And after that, we played four or five World Cup matches and nobody spoke about my hundredth hundred at that stage, because the entire focus was on the World Cup. Once the World Cup was over, that's when the whole focus shifted to the hundredth hundred. There were speculations that I didn't go to West Indies because I wanted to score my hundredth hundred at Lord's!
I wish I was good enough to do all those things in my life – as and when you want to score hundred, you could score a hundred. It doesn't come that way in cricket. You have to work hard, and, you know, I would have, if that was the case, I would have changed a lot of things in the past. I would have liked to score a hundred in every innings I went out to bat.
But you know, it's taken some time, and as the time went by, I knew there were patches where I was really batting well. There were patches where I thought that 'Yeah, I was OK,' and then there were phases when I felt I could have been better. And that's very normal. I mean that's part and parcel of every sportsman, not only a cricketer, but every sportsman goes through that. And eventually, I just felt that yes, there was a period where I started thinking 'why people are only talking about the hundredth? Why not something else?'
I mean, I know it's the hundredth hundred, but before that I have also scored 99 hundreds. So you know, it was just frustrating because wherever I went, be it to a restaurant, everyone, or room-service, house-keeping, hotel receptions, in the aircraft, wherever. I mean, it was only about the hundredth hundred, and it had possibly reached a stage where enough was enough and we had to move on.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: If I could ask you something now, If I even try and attempt to play statesman, you will perhaps hook me for a six outside this room. But the sheer magnitude of what you have achieved, you might not think about it in that particular way, but the fans will surely. Be it Roger Bannister breaking the four-min mile record, or Bob Beamon’s 8.90 jump, Jesse Owens winning four gold medals within an hour, Pele scoring nearly 1300 goals, this also possibly stands somewhere alongside these, on the lines of Lance Armstrong’s seven back-to-back Tour de France titles. Have you thought about it yourself?
Sachin Tendulkar: (Smiles) No. I haven't thought about all these things. But it's just been, from a personal point of view I can say, that it's been a fantastic journey. It's something which has not happened overnight or happened in a decade. It's taken more than a decade to come my way, and I don't know how to describe. I just don't have words. It's been fantastic.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: From 1989 when you started off, it's been a long journey. Your captain in that Test match against Pakistan, Srikkanth, is the chairman of selectors. Waqar Younis, who made his debut with you in that very game, is now commentating here. So many have come, played with you, and gone, even as you carry on. What do you feel about this journey.
Sachin Tendulkar: It's been a wonderful experience. It's always been my dream to play for India, and the even bigger dream was to win the World Cup for India. I don't think there is anything greater than that. The World Cup meant so much to the country. It brought so much of joy to the people. I don't think there could be anything greater than this for me, nothing else can ever be greater than winning the World Cup for your country.
So, along the way, you do get a sense of satisfaction that you have been able to contribute something for the country, something for cricket too, that will inspire the next generation.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: And finally, to end this brief interview... I didn’t ask you as I interviewed you immediately after the World Cup win – ‘When’? We would like you to perhaps play for as long as possible, but, what next for Sachin?
Sachin Tendulkar: Well, next for me is to enjoy cricket. I think that factor is really, really important and, if I am enjoying, then the performance will be there. And that's how I have always played in the past. I have looked to enjoy my cricket in various manners. I mean, there is not a particular formula which says that this is the way to enjoy cricket.
There are different challenges along the way and you overcome obstacles. And that is also a part of the learning process. And you take a lot of pride in overcoming those obstacles and contributing something which everyone takes notice of. And that is enjoyment for me, that is satisfaction for me, of having done something for the nation, and I hope it continues.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: We love to wait in anticipation of the next incredible feat from you. Thank you very much for talking to us.
Sachin Tendulkar: Thank you.