If Sachin Tendulkar had a rival in terms of style and effectiveness, it was Brian Lara of the West Indies. Critics of the game were torn for two decades about which of them was better, particularly because of how different they were in terms of technique, approach to an innings, and mental fortitude. Lara spoke toAaj Tak Sports Editor VIKRANT GUPTA on what made him and Sachin two means to an end. Excerpts:
Q. How would you describe your mental approach before and during an innings. How was it different from Sachin's?
A. My idea of approaching a game was to practise as hard as I could. I think Sachin and I were similar in that regard. Michael Jordan once said he practised so hard that he felt like he was in cruise control during the game. Nothing could surprise him, and his instincts took over. Out in the middle, I wanted to win and win by dominating the bowling. In contrast, I think Sachin was happy to give the bowlers a few overs and to extract his pound of flesh at the right time. I had more of a slam-bang approach.
Q. Why do you think your batting styles were so different-the stance, backlift, range of strokes, the shifting of gears during an innings?
A. Mine was a high backlift with the intention of attacking the ball. I relied a lot on my footwork, especially against spinners in the subcontinent. I tried to be easy on my feet and let the ball come to me rather than push at it. Sachin was more stable on his feet and more still. He dominated the bowlers in his own way, pulverising them with shots that looked far more conventional than mine did.
Q. You had an uncanny ability to play big knocks. How did you concentrate for such long hours?
A. When I got my first Test hundred, Rohan Kanhai was there. I was being praised, but all of a sudden he came along and told me to concentrate even harder and make a bigger score. Since that day, I always wanted to make it count when I was in.
Q. Would you have changed your style if you were in an Indian team with Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman? And vice versa for Sachin if he was in the Windies team?
A. I don't think so. To me, batting is about getting runs for the team. I dont think I'd have changed my approach playing for any team. But competing for a place with the likes of these players would have been tough. I am only half kidding when I say Sachin may have had an easier time in the West Indies line-up.
Q. What is the one thing you would've taken from Sachin, and one thing Sachin could have borrowed from you?
A. I'd like to have his calm. He is never flustered. Sachin (winks) may have wanted a bit of my flair.
Reproduced From India Today. © 2013. LMIL. All rights reserved.