Colombo: All set to become the most-capped Test player, Indian batting stalwart Sachin Tendulkar on Monday said the sky-high expectations of his cricket-mad nation are not a burden as he considers them a "god's gift".
"It is not a burden. It is god's gift ... the passion which I had (to play cricket) I got to work on it for 20 years. I enjoy every moment. I don't think it as a burden. It was my desire in life that has happened," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar will play his 169th Test when he takes the field against Sri Lanka in the third game of a three-match series here on Tuesday , surpassing the 168 played by former Australian captain Steve Waugh. The 37-year-old said touching the milestone is like a dream realised sooner than expected in his two-decade-old cricket career.
"It has been a long journey. I still remember the first Test match that I played in Pakistan. The 1989 was completely different feeling altogether compared to the other form of cricket that I played," he told reporters.
"I am very happy that I have had the privilege of having had such a long journey at international level and this was my dream. To play for India was my dream and getting to play 169 Test matches is fantastic. Really pleased with that. "The journey has gone by very quickly. Quicker than I expected. The time flies and you just need to enjoy it. It is a circle," he added.
The champion batsman said he has had his rough times but has managed to cope with them by working hard. "Sometimes there are rough patches. But the simple formula that I have followed is that whenever I have gone through such phases, I have found the reason to work hard. "I have tried and spent all my energy at what I have been trying to get better at and trying to keep things simple. If you keep things simple they are simple to manage.
"Cricket is simple but everything around it ... if you keep it simple then it becomes relatively easy. And then the huge support that whatever I have had over the years motivated me to go out and live upto expectations," he added. Tendulkar said he still prepares hard for matches and that has helped him evolve with the changing times.
"I think the pre-match preparations are extremely important. I feel that I have always been prepared. Sometimes I have been able to achieve results and sometimes I have not but my preparations are always there. I am really proud of this," Tendulkar said. Asked which contemporary of his has it in him to break his records, Tendulkar said he hopes that player is an Indian.
"All I can say is that whoever breaks my record should be an Indian," he said. Tendulkar said he is happy that the milestone has come after spending 20 years in international cricket.
"To achieve this, you need x number of years, the x number of tours and that is when these things happen. I am quite pleased that it has taken 20 plus years to get here. It is wonderful," he said.
"In the last few years, we have played a reasonable amount of Test cricket and it is good. I felt, in early 90s I hardly got any Test matches. There were a couple of occasions when there were two or three Test matches in a year which was a little disappointing. But that is not the case now," he said.
Asked if he had any advice for the younger lot of players, Tendulkar said, "It is important to dream. The second thing is that you chase your dreams. Be sincere and honest and chase your dreams.. they do come true." PTI