Sachin Tendulkar has no hesitation in terming India as favourites going into the World Cup but what makes him happier is the team’s ability to be competitive “in any part of the world and on any surface.” The Indian ODI team under Virat Kohli has won three bilateral away series against South Africa (5-1), Australia (2-1) and New Zealand (4-1) with only defeat coming against England.
“I have gone on record saying that we have a perfect balance in the team where we will be competitive in any part of the world or on any surface,” Tendulkar told PTI in an interview on Sunday.
“As far as our chances are concerned, I will not hesitate in saying that we are the favourites,” said Tendulkar, the brand ambassador of the Full Marathon held in Jamshedpur.
England, the World Cup hosts, had a torrid time against West Indies in Tests but the ODI outfit will be a different proposition on their home turf. “It’s all about getting the early momentum. My judgement on the toughest contenders would be England, while New Zealand would be the dark horse,” he opined.
New Zealand may have been outplayed in the just concluded ODI series but can prove to be a handful in the mega event. “I know New Zealand have struggled in this series but it’s a good unit, one needs to be on their toes,” he said.
The suspended duo of Steve Smith and David Warner will be back in international fold on March 29 and Australia will be as dangerous as any other team. “I think Australia at full strength will be a formidable side. With Smith and David Warner back in the team and their other bowlers coming back into the ODI squad, it will be a competitive side,” said Tendulkar. But a few bad overs could spell doom for them as it happened during the recent series. “But in one-day matches it’s such that when you have a couple of bad hours, 50 per cent of the match gets slipped away.”
In Kolkata for marathon flag off, Tendulkar spoke about the young athletes who have done well for the nation in recent times. He hailed the recent success of women athletes like Hima Das, Dutee Chand and Swapna Barman at the Asian Games and said sport has proved to be an excellent tool for women empowerment.
He referred to India’s Rio Olympics 2016 performance where India had won only two medals, both of them by women — wrestler Sakshi Malik (bronze) and PV Sindhu (silver) in badminton.
“It’s been fantastic through sports. Now for a number of years we have seen women have brought glory to our nation. I see parents being more flexible in their thought process now. It’s not just about becoming a doctor, a lawyer or engineer. There are a multiple things you can do today,” the cricket icon said.
“That’s how it should be. It’s great for India. I always believed that the platforms provided for both men and women should be equal. This starts from grassroots level. It should start right from the bottom and from thereon there should be equal opportunities for both,” he said.
Tendulkar went on to fondly remember his childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar who passed away at the age of 87 last month. “I hate using this ‘was’ word that comes to him. Losing Achrekar Sir will always be a permanent void.
“It was wonderful time with him, that is how I would want to remember him. Wherever I’m in my life right now it’s because of him and my family members. He was like family,” he signed off.
Anjali, Wahlang win Kolkata Marathon as Tendulkar cheers participants
Less than three months after recovering from a surgery, 45-year-old Anjali Saraogi retained her title in the Kolkata Marathon with a career-best timing on Sunday. Seniormost runner in the women’s field, Anjali clocked 3 hour 16 minutes 54 seconds to win the race and better her last year’s timing of 3:30:53.
Samiksha Rai (4:04:40) was second while Rashmi Somani (4:15:24) took the third place. Before this, Anjali also ran in Mumbai Marathon last month and finished second in the amateur category.
“I started training for Mumbai Marathon only in the last week of December. Because of the surgery (to remove breast lump) I could not train much. But I’m always passionate about running and the performance in Mumbai boosted my confidence,” Anjali, who runs a medical centre, said after the race.
Anjali was a member of the Indian team at the 100km World Ultra Running Championship in Croatia in September last year. “As I had experience in ultra running, I knew I could make it up without little training. But I want to go on improve my timing further,” Anjali, who is getting ready for her dream Boston Marathon in April, said.
Tlanding Wahlang (2:35:42) won the men’s full marathon, ahead of Surat Raj Subba (2:40:22) and Fulningstar Nonglang (2:41:58).
Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, who is the brand ambassador of the event, flagged off the race from Salt Lake Stadium at 4.30am on a chilly morning.
“Four years ago, we started off with 1500 athletes. Today I can proudly say that we have 15000 participation, an increase of 10 times,” Tendulkar told PTI, terming the atmosphere incredible.
“It’s a big move from what happened four years ago. It’s a shift in their thinking. Shift in your lifestyle. We want everyone to keep moving forward, and don’t be satisfied with what we have got. I congratulate all the people from Kolkata,” he said. This edition also witnessed several inspirational runners in different categories.
Shubhashis Ghosh, with a rare heart ailment, competed in the 10K run, along with the visually-impaired Mohammed Asif Iqbal. The half marathon category saw 86-year-old Bylahalli Janardan inspiring the participants.
“It’s a incredible I had the pleasure of meeting them yesterday. He (Asif) spoke to all of us last evening and his speech was inspirational. I thought it was extremely motivating,” Tendulkar hailed.
Men’s: Tlanding Wahlang (2:35:42), Surat Raj Subba (2:40:22), Fulningstar Nonglang (2:41:58).
Women’s: Anjali Saraogi (3:16:54), Samiksha Rai (4:04:40), Rashmi Somani (4:15:24).
Men’s: Mukesh Singh Bhandari (1:08:50.16), Deepak Singh Rawat (1:08:50.74), Batsrang Sangma (1:09:49).
Women’s: Jyoti Singh (1:23:31), Dateibankynmaw Marwei (1:39:08), Tshering Lamu Bhutia (1:45:48).