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Tendulkar raring to go

By Jayashree Lengade
March 05, 2004 18:18 IST
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India batsman Sachin Tendulkar is licking his lips at the prospect of playing Test cricket in Pakistan again, even though he admits feeling uneasy about the hype surrounding the historic series.

Tendulkar made his debut on India's 1989/90 tour of Pakistan as a teenager but India have not played another Test series in Pakistan since then owing to political tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

"It's a great feeling and I am really excited," Tendulkar said after training at a ground in suburban Bandra where he used to play as a young boy.

"At that time I was 16 years old, I was very young," he said of the 1989 trip. "Now having been around for 14-and-a-half years it's exciting after such a long time (that) you are getting an opportunity to play in Pakistan."

India will play five one-day matches and three Tests during the tour which starts next Wednesday, with the first one-dayer in Karachi the following Saturday.

Tendulkar also led India in 1997 to play three one-dayers in Pakistan but the latest series is generating huge interest because of a recent thaw in relations between the nations.

SHOAIB DUEL

The tour has also been hyped as a duel between Tendulkar and Pakistan's express bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

Shoaib yorked Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid off successive balls to bowl his team to victory in the Asian Test championship in 1999 while Tendulkar smashed him over point for a stunning six in his match-winning 98 at the 2003 World Cup.

However Tendulkar said: "It's not like that. One factor which is always common is India vs Australia or India vs Pakistan. Two countries playing against each other rather than two individuals playing against each other."

He appealed to India's cricket-mad fans and the media not to get too carried away.

"I want to tell the people to keep a balanced mind," he said. "There will be some good days, there will be some bad days.

"I think everyone should take responsibility. Not only players, but spectators and the media too. Whatever anyone speaks or writes should be correctly thought out.

"Just as players are trying their best so that they can play a good game, everyone should try to enjoy the game well. This is my request.

"We will put our best efforts. All we have to focus is on cricket and put up a good show. We'll be winning the games and we are going there to win."

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Jayashree Lengade
Source: REUTERS
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