Sachin looking forward to his 200th Test

For months now, cricket fans have been resigned to the inevitability of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from the game that he has graced internationally for the last 24 years. Despite falling form and slowing reflexes, Tendulkar, now 40, has not made it clear when exactly he will walk into the sunset.

But, in an exclusive interview to Mail Today here on Tuesday, Tendulkar did confirm that he was looking forward to playing his 200th Test in South Africa at the end of this year, making it clear that his white flannels would still be in use till January 2014 at the very least.

“The South African tour still has some time to go [ in December], but it would be interesting to play the 200th Test. It’s a big number and it will be a special feeling when I reach there,” said Tendulkar, who has played 198 Tests for a mind- boggling 15,837 runs since making his debut in 1989. He retired from One- Day Internationals in December last year, while his Indian Premier League farewell came on Sunday after Mumbai Indians won the title.

No man in the 136- year history of Test cricket has managed to play more matches than the Mumbai maestro, and asked how he felt about the impending landmark, Tendulkar said: “ I am not aware of that feeling right now. When it comes, I would probably be able to answer that better.” However, the first man with 100 international centuries, including 51 in Tests, clarified that more than the 200- Test mark, what would serve as incentive for him would be to help India’s cause on the tough tour.

“ Whenever we go [ as Team India], we go to win. We always focus on doing well and play to win. That’s the way I look at it. If anything [ record] comes along, it’s a coincidence, which is fine,” he said.

Tendulkar said he is savouring Mumbai Indians’ maiden IPL triumph, after realising his dream of being part of a World Cup- winning team in 2011. And since Mumbai have qualified for the Champions League T20, he might play in that tournament in October. But as of now, he wants to take his mind off the game and go on a holiday.

“ I will be resting for a while. I will continue to train. I’ll have net sessions as I still play Test cricket and will focus on fitness.

After the holiday, I will train again,” he said.

His son Arjun is also coming up through the ranks as a junior cricketer, and the master has often been seen giving him tips.

Asked if he’ll use the summer break to focus more on his son’s game, Tendulkar replied: “ He has a couple of coaches and I don’t want to disturb that arrangement. I will give him the freedom to listen to his coaches, because too much advice can confuse him.” Tendulkar has been working closely with a British publication house on the Tendulkar Opus , for which he had earlier agreed to give half a pint of blood to be inserted in 10 premium copies, but later decided against it.

Opus Media CEO Karl Fowler had told Mail Today that it would be launched soon after Tendulkar scores his 100th international century. But more than a year after he got that, against Bangladesh during the Asia Cup in Dhaka, there’s still no news of the project.

Asked about the probable date of release, Tendulkar said: “ Nothing has been decided as yet. I have to meet World Sports Group ( with which he has a tieup) people on this.” Tendulkar is a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha.

Asked if he would be attending the next Parliament session, he said: “ Whenever I am not doing anything, I would go.”

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