“I have always believed in God. My father was a believer and my mother is a believer. Even when I was a schoolboy and playing at Shivaji Park, during breaks, I used to run to a Ganpati temple nearby and drink water from the tap there every day. I got the feeling of getting positive energy after drinking the water,” Tendulkar said during an interaction with a select group of journalists, here today.
“When I got to my 100th hundred, I looked at the bat and looked upwards towards God and said “it's been a tough time for me, why? Where did I lack in my commitment?,” Finally it had happened and I was really thrilled and looked at the dressing room and pointed my bat to the players and also to the Indian flag that I have on my helmet. This is what I have done for the nation and everyone has been a part of it,” the legendary batsman said.
“I remember my coach (Ramakant Achrekar) telling me when I was a kid, this game can be cruel at times... don't worry, everyone goes through these patches. When you are doing well you don't question yourself ...why are these things happening to me. You feel you are doing well and I have managed all these things. Even a bad phase will pass by...nothing will stay permanently you will overcome these obstacles,” the maestro reminisced.
“In my school days, I learnt a lot, these things have helped me...above all to respect the game - that's something I have learnt... to respect the game,” said the champion batsman, who will turn 39 on April 24.
Tendulkar, whose 99th hundred was registered on March 12 last year during the World Cup against South Africa at Nagpur, had come agonisingly close to notching the century of centuries on a few occasions, but had to wait till March 16 this year when he completed the landmark against Bangladesh in Dhaka.
He described in detail the trials and tribulations he underwent before achieving this milestone in his 22-year-old international career, and felt the luck factor had deserted him.
“This year was a difficult one. When I was on 99 centuries during the last World Cup ... we played 4 games after that, (but) nobody talked about my 100th century. The focus was on the World Cup. We won the World Cup which was absolutely fantastic. Then everyone started thinking where can we focus..the focus was on the 100th hundred,” said Tendulkar.
“At that stage my focus wasn't on 100th hundred. My focus was, like any other match I would go out to get a big 100 and contribute. (I) just wanted to go out and get as many runs as possible and that is what I was thinking about.
“But as the time went by there was so much hype created that naturally the focus... even though I did not want I felt somewhere in the subconscious mind it was there. I was telling myself that above all I need to just enjoy the game and be myself.
“But when you get at least 100 reminders a day, it is difficult not to think about it. You are forcibly made to think about it. That was something which was getting tougher and tougher to manage. I obviously felt like telling everyone let's talk cricket and not 100th hundred; I am exactly making the same pre-match preparations (and) everything exactly was the same.
“The 100th hundred... of course I started off really well and then I felt the ball was coming off the track a bit slower than I would have liked. And during my partnership with Virat (Kohli), we both kept discussing what would be a good target and we thought 275-280 would be a good total as that wicket wasn't like the one on which the earlier game had been played.
“We were constantly keeping an eye on the run-rate that we were maintaining and it became critical to have wickets in hand. I was patient and just focused on building partnerships. At the same time there were spells during which they really bowled well.
“I remember Mashrafe Mortaza bowled a maiden to me in the Powerplay. I had connected three good shots in that over and all three went to the fielder.”
Tendulkar said that he was talking to Virat Kohli about how certain shots which would be boundaries was stopped.
“And I told Virat, and thought to myself, on a good day, those are three boundaries. That is what this game teaches you. Sometimes you can edge between slips for a four and when you are batting well, three potential boundaries could get stopped. It's an unbelievable game. You just have to remain a student and learn so many things,” he said.
Tendulkar also pointed out that he had got big runs when he had not batted well at times in the past, but when he did bat well, like in Australia, luck seemed to desert him.
“There have been occasions when I have not batted that well but have ended up scoring big runs...what could be the reason? It's luck, as sometimes you get beaten by just that much...how will you describe it...edging one and getting beaten….that has to be luck.
“In Mumbai (against West Indies in the third and final Test last November), if I had been beaten by that particular ball I would have been batting on 94 ... the next ball you think, ok fine it's a two-paced wicket, so I better respect that and leave that ball alone.
“Sometimes that ‘wake-up ball' is important... which I felt in my case did not happen much last season. It just taught me to have patience and focus on my job...results will take care of themselves if I focus on my prematch preparations and not think too much.”
Tendulkar said instead of relaxing he tried harder than necessary during this phase.
“When you start climbing a building you don't think of the 10th floor directly you have to start from ground floor. As far as my preparation was concerned, I did not find any shortcuts there. I don't think I was relaxed. I kept myself pushing harder and harder because these are the things which make you.
“Sometimes there are disappointments or setbacks and afterwards I always used to work harder and try and take whatever positive out of them. That is something which I have learnt, or maybe it was a reminder after 22 years.”