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400 just a number, says Tendulkar

0050.jpgHe has done that for 18 long years and when Sachin Tendulkar walks down to take his guard against Australia on Thursday, he will become only the second player in the world to feature in 400 One-Day Internationals.

It will be yet another milestone achieved by the master craftsman who chose the momentous occasion to drive down memory lane and relive every moment of that fascinating journey from a cherubic school kid to a legend.

Team India ready to rumble

Tendulkar, who will follow Sri Lankan great Sanath Jayasuriya into the one-day record books, said that Thursday will be no different. He would aim to do what he has done in these 18 years — score runs and help India win the game.

“I am hoping I will perform well and get runs to help India win the game,” said the 34-year-old batsman in Vadodara ahead of the fifth ODI against Australia.

“My approach would be the same. I would treat it as just another game. 400 is just a number and my approach to it would be as normal as ever,” the soft-spoken Tendulkar said.

“I am taking each match at a time. The 400th one-dayer happens to be against Australia. It could have been against any other team. My preparations are not going to be any different,” he added.

He said that the series against Australia is going to be a very competitive one.

“Our preparations have been good so far and I am hoping is that we can implement our plans tomorrow,” he said.

The only time Tendulkar got flustered during the chat with the media at the team’s practice area was when a scribe asked him why his performance had been more downhill than uphill during the current year.

“Please check your records,” he retorted.

Asked to single out a few memorable ties, Tendulkar listed some of the most memorable moments that fans would recount with great relish.

The 1993 Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, his desert storm-interrupted attacking knock at Sharjah against Australia in 1998 and the subsequent final against them. The superb innings of 98 with 12 boundaries and a six against the fiery Shoaib Akhtar [Images] and company of Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup tie at Centurion Park in South Africa were Tendulkar’s best and he fondly recollected those moments.

“The Hero Cup semi-final in Kolkata when I bowled the last over. I have a very strong memory of that. Then the matches in Sharjah in 1998 [when he smashed 143 and 134 in successive matches against Australia including the final which India won] and the World Cup match at Centurion against Pakistan.

“These have been some very important matches. These are some wonderful memories,” said the holder of the record for the most number of Test and ODI centuries.

The Hero Cup was the tournament where his magical bowling arm won India the semi-final against South Africa.

The last over of that match was surprisingly bowled by Tendulkar who, watched by a capacity crowd of over a lakh, persuaded his captain Mohammad Azharuddin to give him the ball.

The Proteas needed six runs to win and the batsmen at the crease, Brian McMillan and Allan Donald could get only three against the little champion.

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