He's my role model and the only reason I am playing cricket, so it was a very special feeling, it's still hard to put in words. He's the best in the world and there's no comparison.
For someone who has idolised Tendulkar from childhood, how did it feel when Tendulkar got his double hundred?
I was clapping standing in the dressing room, but it felt as if I had scored the double hundred myself, that's how thrilling it was. He's my role model and the only reason I am playing cricket, so it was a very special feeling, it's still hard to put in words. He's the best in the world and there's no comparison. I wish I could have been there with him in the middle at the time. Even when he played that innings in Hyderabad, I wished I could have been there - just the feeling of watching him score a double hundred in one-day cricket is unmatchable.
What was special about this innings, apart from the fact that he got a double ton?
I have never seen a batsman looking so much in control on a given day. He was hitting the ball nicely right from the start, even when we were together, he kept telling me to just time the ball and it will go for boundaries. I could see at that time that he was setting up well for a big one. The beauty of this knock was he kept getting runs and kept the momentum of the team for the entire fifty overs.
You have grown up watching Tendulkar on television and try to copy his shots. What about this special innings?
I will pay anything, even go to the theatre, to watch the innings 100 times. There's been no better innings played. I have already reserved a CD for myself, and have asked Dhanajaya (team analyst) to copy the video file into the hard disk of my laptop so I can watch it any time I want.
What is so different about Tendulkar that he has re-written so many records?
The greatest thing about Sachin is that you can't stop him from scoring runs. If you set an off-side field, he will score runs on the on-side, irrespective of where you bowl to him. And if he still wants to score on the off-side, he will do that, no matter how many fielders are employed there. He's the most difficult batsman to contain... the only way you can do it is by dismissing him.
Did you see it coming?
People have asked me before if it was possible to score a double hundred in ODIs, I have given them just one answer - that Sachin Tendulkar could. He has that hunger for runs, he loves the 50-over format and he loves to play the entire 50 overs. I remember when he got out for 163 against New Zealand (2009), he told me that he was troubled by muscle spasms and couldn't last the entire 50 overs and that he would go for the record next time. When he missed it in Hyderabad, he just smiled and told me 'bhagwan ne agar meri kismet mein likhi hai to zaroor banega (If it's in my destiny, I'll get there)'. Sachin was destined to get there.
Tendulkar feels many more double hundreds will follow. Do you see yourself as a contender?
Honestly, it's not easy. You need to be good enough to face 150 balls out of the 300 to get there. Sachin has set the benchmark and proved that impossible is nothing. There will be a few guys trying to chase him down and break the record, and I will definitely be one of them.