Monday 5 March 2007 

Tendulkar Eyes Special Fifth World Cup

Sachin Tendulkar wants to make his fifth World Cup special in his new role as a middle-order batsman and with the ball.

The premier batsman was the player of the 2003 edition after scoring 673 runs to help India reach the final.

Tendulkar, who holds the records for most one-day runs (14,783), hundreds (41) and appearances (381) has also played some memorable knocks in the World Cup.

In 2003, he smashed Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar over point for six to score 98 and lead the team to an emotional victory. In 1999, he returned to England after his father's funeral to score 140 against Kenya.

"It is always special to be part of the World Cup," he told reporters at the weekend. "I've been part of that four times and all four times it has been great."

The 33-year-old also wants to make up for the disappointment of missing last year's rare test series triumph in West Indies due to injury.

Tendulkar recently gave up his one-day opener's slot to add depth to the batting in what could be his last World Cup.

"Batting at middle order is difficult," he said. "The last eight games played in India have just helped me figure out what I should do differently. I want to get rhythm and continue with that."

He also wants to contribute with his occasional bowling on Caribbean soil which many expect would play slow.

"I know it helps to be irregular," said Tendulkar, who has 147 one-day scalps. "I'd want to introduce an element of surprise."

INDIAN COMMANDOS

Skipper Rahul Dravid hoped his players would benefit with their quiet build-up in the Caribbean, away from the frenzy around the team in India. However, the team would get protection from elite Indian commandos during the event.

"When we play in India we are used to the security, the number of people around us all the time," he said. "Hopefully they will stay in the background and don't get too visible.

"In some ways, it is a relief for us the tournament has started," Dravid said. "It'll give us a chance to get closer.

"Not often does the Indian team get a chance to sit around the pool and have lunch without being disturbed."

The Indian team trained on Sunday at Jarrett Park stadium in Montego Bay with just a handful of journalists watching them work out in intense heat.

India are in group B with 1996 winners Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and debutants Bermuda.

They play two warm-up matches, against Netherlands on Tuesday and against West Indies on Friday.

© Reuters 2007