Sachin: India will go all the way in World T20

Sachin Tendulkar shared his memories at the MRF Pace Foundation; praised Chennai for overcoming the floods in December. He also talked about how T20 has changed cricket and shared his thoughts on the World T20 to be hosted by India.

Sachin Tendulkar reminisced his stint with Dennis Lillee and T. A. Sekar at the MRF pace foundation.   -  PTI

About three decades ago, a 13-year-old curly-haired boy, prodigiously gifted in batting, wished to bowl fast. So, he came down to Madras from Bombay to join Dennis Lillee’s mentorship at the MRF Pace Foundation. What Dennis told the boy and what the boy became over the years is an oft-repeated legendary story in India.

The boy named Sachin Tendulkar is now a 42-year-old (still curly-haired) and is the brand ambassador of MRF, one of the leading tyre manufacturers in India. He was in the city to witness the brand’s announcement of partnering International Cricket Council (ICC) over the next four years, including the World T20 beginning in March.

Speaking at the event, Sachin shared his memories at the MRF Pace Foundation; praised Chennai for overcoming the floods in December. He also talked about how T20 has changed cricket and shared his thoughts on the World T20 to be hosted by India.

Excerpts:

On the impact of T20 on cricket: Twenty20 has changed the way the game is played. Till a few years ago, nobody thought batters would play a reverse sweep but after T20 came in, batters now play a reverse sweep of a genuine fast bowler.

They hit it over short third-man. It also draws in a new audience and the spectators find it engaging. For anyone, who isn’t familiar with cricket, this format is engaging. The matches are close and it remains intense for three hours and I don’t think you will see three hours of intensity in any other sport.

On the World T20: The Twenty20 World Cup in India is going to be really, really big. Everyone will be waiting for this opportunity to go out and perform. Last year I was the ambassador for the ICC World Cup and I had to be discreet and I used to say the defending champion will defend the title but this year I am not an ICC ambassador and so I can say – it is going to be India all the way (laughs).

On his stint at the MRF Pace Foundation: My partnership with MRF started in 1986 when I was trying to bowl fast and it was the first time that I met Dennis (Lillee). Dennis was involved with the academy for a number of years, not to forget T. A. Sekar, who was extremely committed.

Whenever a fast bowler plays for India, the first thing that comes to mind is that ‘he must be from the MRF Pace Foundation.’ MRF has shown real commitment over all these years.

Now Glenn McGrath has taken over. I didn’t have the privilege of playing against Dennis though I did play an exhibition match in 1992 but I have played McGrath many times in international cricket. His experience will be a big help to young fast bowlers.

On Chennai bouncing back after the December floods: This is my first visit to Chennai after the floods. After landing here what I experienced was the same vibrant energy that I experienced during my many trips to Chennai before. The city is back on track. We all go through difficult times and in difficult times, people from various parts of our nation extended a helping hand and a big, big thank you to all of them who showed the real character of the country.