Sydney, Australia: March 2, 2008 - India has won the final of the Tri series by 6 wickets here today; Australia 230/50, India 242/5, Tandulkar 117(120), Dhoni 15 (12).Sachin Tendulkar, who defied pain to score his first One-day century in Australia in his 18-year career, rated his effort “highly” but said he did not want to prove anyone wrong.
Tendulkar remained unconquered after scoring 117 which helped India to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals, setting platform for their first-ever One-day cricket tri-series win Down Under.
“In the last series, I missed a few centuries. I was also struggling with a groin strain for some time. But these things are part and parcel of the game and one has to carry on. I rate this hundred very highly,” Tendulkar said after guiding India to a six wicket victory.
Tendulkar’s less than stellar One-day record while chasing in recent times had set some tongues wagging but the batsman said he was not aiming to prove anyone wrong.
“I play the game for passion and love. People have been writing all sorts of things and I don’t want to prove anybody wrong,” he insisted.
Tendulkar also said he was happy about his long stay in the middle on Sunday as planned.
“It was wonderful to end on a winning note and be there when victory was achieved. The century was secondary. The next match (in Brisbane on Tuesday) is very important now,” said the master batsman, who may be playing his last ODI series in Australia.
The 34-year-old cricketer agreed that he wanted to get his first One-day hundred in Australia but felt victory in the first final made it a secondary objective.
“I wanted to get the hundred today. We had never beaten Australia in Sydney, and there was no better occasion than today to change that,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar was very impressed by the batting of youngster Rohit Sharma (66) who stitched a match-winning stand of 123 with Tendulkar to take India to the doorstep of victory.
“It was a terrific effort and the partnership was very crucial. He (Rohit) is calm and has a great temperament. He’s got a great future,” Tendulkar said.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was happy to get a match-winning hundred from his senior batsman.
“It was a pleasure to see him bat. He carried the innings and also took the youngsters with him and proved a point,” he said.
Dhoni lauded the efforts of his bowlers, especially spinners, to keep the Aussie innings under check. “We got two-three early wickets and crucial breaks in the middle.
“Harbhajan and Chawla used the conditions well and it was a good effort as it seemed at one stage that they would get close to 300,” he said.
The skipper was effusive in his praise for the newcomers he had drafted in the side.
“Most of the time, it is said that the captain has made a right choice in team selection. But it all depends on how the player responds and uses the opportunity,” Dhoni added.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting felt the total his team got (239) was sub-par.
“We were 20-30 runs short. The pitch held together under the dew and we bowled badly as well,” he said.
He gave full credit to Tendulkar for taking the game away from Australia. He had a few close shaves early on, but after that, it was a super innings.”
Ponting said the hosts needed quite a bit of improvement with the second final in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“We need to get our heads right. There is not much wrong with our skill levels. But the shots we are getting out to at vital moments is disappointing,” he added.
For young Rohit Sharma, sharing a long partnership with his childhood idol Tendulkar was a “dream come true.”
“It is a great feeling and I would rate today’s knock as my best One-day innings,” the Mumbai batsman said.
He said he consciously tried to play straighter in the beginning of his innings.
“Sachin paaji told me to play sensibly. We discussed seeing off the spells from Lee and (Mitchell) Johnson as they were the strike bowlers. He said boundaries will come when they are needed,” Rohit added.