God made Sachin for cricket - Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has hailed Sachin Tendulkar’s dedication to his craft as India chase World Cup glory on home soil.
Tendulkar is chasing the 100th hundred of a stunning international career stretching back to 1989, and, having fallen just short of it with a charmed 85 against Pakistan in the semi-final, he could reach the landmark in the sport’s showpiece match, in his home city, against Sri Lanka tomorrow.
Dhoni, his captain, pinpointed the unique qualities that have enabled Tendulkar to score 18,093 runs in one-day internationals and 14,692 in Tests - both records - and remain at the top of the game as he approaches his 38th birthday.
“He has a love and passion for cricket,” he said. “Every time he turns up for a practice session or a game he is 100% there.
“He never turns up just for the sake of it. He gets there with a purpose in mind and until that gets resolved he is one person who won’t leave the field.
“More often than not, with the kind of talent he has got, you can be sure that in two hours it gets rectified. He is an amazing person to have around, and the attitude has not changed for the last 21 years.
“Most people would have lost interest, but with Sachin I think God just made him to play cricket and he has been doing that for the past 21 years, and hopefully a few more years to come.
“He made his debut in 1989 if I’m not wrong and for the last 21 years the whole of India has been expecting things from him. I don’t think it’s anything new, but being the kind of individual he is, he always thinks about going on to the field and giving his best.”
A century would delight a billion Indians and beyond, but Dhoni believes Tendulkar will have no problem coping with the unparalleled pressures on the shoulders of the country’s most idolised sportsman.
“If you have prepared well, and it’s your day, you can get the big runs and you can make your team win,” Dhoni added.
“There is no point thinking about what milestone you’re supposed to achieve. He has achieved a lot and he doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone; it’s just about himself.
“He will just prepare well, have a good night’s sleep and turn up on the field and be at his best.”
Dhoni, who will be without injured left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra against Sri Lanka - he has been ruled out by a fractured finger - has been impressed with how India have paced their progress through the tournament, and wants them to maintain what he believes is their “peak” level, reached during victories over Australia and Pakistan in the knockout stages.
“You want to end the tournament on a good note. You may have put in 200% effort during the course of the tournament but we all know that ‘full stop’ hasn’t come. The sentence is not complete,” he said.
“We all know how well we need to prepare; we know the strengths and weaknesses and what we need to do on the field.
“We slowly gained momentum, which is very important, and the format of the tournament gave us some time to get into the groove of being at our best.
“We have peaked at the right time and we continue that peak. The format gave us those extra moments where we could say, ‘okay, we’ll start lightly and as it progresses we will grow with the tournament’.”
Batsman Gautam Gambhir is expected to be available despite being forced off the field with a hamstring problem against Pakistan on Wednesday.