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Team India `joy to watch` says Sachin Tendulkar after statue unveiling


Sachin Tendulkar India’s ICC World Cup 2023 team said they were a ‘joy to behold’ after unveiling a statue of the batting great at their home ground at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Tournament hosts India, bidding for a third World Cup title, are the only unbeaten team in the 10-team event going into their match with us against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Thursday.

Tendulkar, a member of the Indian side that defeated Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final at the Wankhede, was keen not to add to the pressure on a team captained by Rohit Sharma, another talented Mumbai batsman. But after some dynamic displays from India – including 100-run champions England’s struggle last time out – he said: “They are a joy to watch. “I am very happy with the way they played they this competition.”

Earlier Tendulkar, surrounded by photographers, television personnel and police, was outside to a band playing traditional Indian dhol drums. Then, with the push of a button, a sculpture created by local sculptor Pramod Kamble was unveiled amid fireworks and streamers.

The statue is perched high in a gap near the Sachin Tendulkar stand, overlooking the playing field from the square onwards, and the `Little Master’ is depicted at the end of a classic straight drive – one of his best known shots. Although many grounds around the world have stands named after famous players, there are few statues of living cricketers anywhere and even fewer within a venue.

“It is indeed a special moment for me,” Tendulkar, 50, said after the unveiling. “I’m truly humbled…standing here will bring back so many memories.” Tendulkar recalled his first visit to the Wankhede as a 10-year-old boy in 1983 to watch India play the West Indies soon after India defeated the Caribbean side to win their first World Cup once at Lord’s. He was in a group of 25, including his older brother, who only had 24 tickets.

“But somehow they put this little 10-year-old boy into the ground,” said Tendulkar, who said he was delighted to be part of the ‘North Stand Gang’ at the ground, famous for its voice support.

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Tendulkar also recalled how childhood hero Sunil Gavaskar, another Mumbai and India great, invited him into the home dressing room at the Wankhede during the 1987 World Cup when Tendulkar was a teenage ball boy.

The following year Tendulkar was selected to play for Mumbai but was not in the same side as Gavaskar. However, he took Gavaskar’s place in the dressing room and made a hundred at the Wankhede on his first-class debut.

“It was a seat that was not used to being occupied,” Tendulkar said in reference to prolific opener Gavaskar. “So I had no choice but to make a hundred.” Tendulkar, international cricket’s leading scorer in all formats, with 34,357 runs from 664 matches, including 100 hundreds, said that while it was a huge honor to play for Mumbai, it was always his ambition to play for India and win. World Cup.

“And the dream was achieved in 2011,” said Tendulkar, whose international career began when he was just 16 in 1989. “That was the happiest day, without a doubt,” said Tendulkar for lifting the “beautiful trophy”. Tendulkar, who retired in 2013 after a Test against the West Indies at the Wankhede, said every batsman needs a no-hitter and dedicated the statue to “all the cricketers who played with me”.

(With agency input)

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