Retired great Sachin Tendulkar says Sunday’s World Cup game against Pakistan could pose a challenge to the Indian team that is bigger than even playing in the final.
“The Pakistan game was a high pressure game compared to the final,” Tendulkar said in an interview on Headlines Today news channel about India’s win over its arch rival in the 2011 semifinal at Mohali in which he scored a match-winning 85.
“It’s a different atmosphere altogether.”
India starts its defense of the World Cup against Pakistan at Adelaide on Sunday. It will be the first time that India will be without Tendulkar for a World Cup game against Pakistan, which has lost all its five Cup games to India.
The two countries did not meet in the first four editions of the World Cup, with an 18-year-old Tendulkar scoring a half-century in their first encounter in 1992. Though Pakistan lost that match, it went on to win the title.
Tendulkar, who retired in 2013, figured in six World Cups and is the most prolific batsman in the tournament’s history with 2,278 runs in 45 matches. He aggregated 482 runs at the 2011 World Cup and 673 in 2003, when India finished runner-up to Australia.
He also scored 523 runs when India reached the semifinals in 1996. Tendulkar was declared man of the series at the 2003 edition in which he smashed a memorable 75-ball 98 against Pakistan in a match best remembered for his slashed six over third-man off speedster Shoaib Akhtar.
“A Pakistan game is not only about that day. I remember 2003, when we played Pakistan at Centurion, my friends had started talking about it 10 months before that,” said Tendulkar, who finished with a record 15,921 runs and 51 centuries in 200 tests and 18,426 runs with 49 centuries in 463 one-day internationals.
Tendulkar, who realised a long-time dream when India lifted the trophy beating Sri Lanka at his home ground Wankhede Stadium, said he had considered retiring after India’s first-round exit in 2007 in the West Indies.
“When I came back home, I was so depressed and so upset with the way we had performed. I actually thought of retiring then. I called my brother Ajit over and told him that I do not want to continue. The game has been cruel to us and I want to stop,” he said.
But Tendulkar said it was Ajit who motivated him to continue with the aim of winning the World Cup at home four years later.