Artists give final touches to a portrait made with paper of Sachin Tendulkar at a school in Mumbai. Six artists worked for 26 hours to finalise Tendulkar's portrait on the occasion of his 45th birthday. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: In a walk down memory lane, birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar recollected his twin hundreds against Australia at Sharjah, exactly two decades ago. The first is still known as the ‘Desert Storm’ hundred  (see video below) while the second came in the final in a match-winning cause.

“It’s a great feeling. All these things have happened in my life. I feel blessed to have had all these wonderful moments in my career. I think those two Sharjah matches are etched in people’s memories.”

■ Unknown tale from Sachin Tendulkar’s Desert Storm knock
■ Sharjah Cricket Stadium: where cricket blossomed in the desert

Tendulkar also spoke about the brutal assault on Abdul Qadir (see video below) during the rain-curtailed exhibition match where his power-packed batting was noticed by one and all.

“I never realised the kind of impact that little innings had on people. Obviously, it’s moments like these that stay with people and I feel happy about it.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Tendulkar, who turned 45 on Tuesday, said an off-spinner who can bowl leg-breaks is like a multilingual. While Tendulkar did not take any names, his observation would certainly be music to Ravichandran Ashwin’s ears, as he tries his hand at wrist spin with an eye on a national comeback in the shorter versions.

Sachin Tendulkar cuts a birthday cake with his wife Anjali at a book launch function in Mumbai on the eve of his birthday. PTI

“I feel it can only help. It’s like you know two to three different languages. Now there is no harm in knowing five or six different languages. It can’t take away anything from you,” he said.

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“It’s exactly the same when one develops more variation. So it’s wrong to say that they [finger spinners] are joining a bandwagon now that they are bowling leg spin. No, they aren’t. Rather, we should see that they have put in effort to develop a delivery,” he said.

And what does he think of the view that the off-spinners’ attempts are futile?

“I think it’s wrong thinking of people. I am not blaming the player here. I am blaming the people here. Leg-break could be just another weapon in your armoury.

“People can bowl off-spin but along with that off-spin, if they are capable of bowling leg-spin as a variation, then why not,” Tendulkar said.

The legendary batsman feels that if someone can get his leg-breaks right, it should be considered a strength.

“If ‘doosra’ bowled by an off-spinner is seen as a weapon, then him bowling a leg-break if situation demands, shouldn’t be considered his weakness. Rather, it should be considered his strength, when he gets it right.

“I can talk about myself. In matches, I used to bowl off-spin to left handers and leg-breaks to right handers. If you are able to do it, then why not.”

On the younger lot of batsmen failing to read leg-break bowlers’ wrists, Tendulkar feels that the current crop of bowlers have really made the willow-wielders think.

“I don’t think it would be a great thing to generalise that batsmen are not reading the googlies from leg-breaks. A batsman can see an outswinger and still manages to edge it.

“To err is human. But I agree that leg-spinners have forced today’s batsmen to think more,” said the legend of 200 Test matches.”

Evolution in the game

Mumbai Indians’ young leg-spinner Mayank Markande (pictured below) has been one of the finds of the season and Tendulkar lavished praise on the Punjab youngster.

“Leg-spinners have got the batsmen to think. Mayank [Markande] has got the batters to think and watch him even closely. It is a compliment to Mayank’s ability that he has been able to disguise his googly so well. It is indeed praiseworthy,” the MI mentor said.

But he does believe that if there is will power, the batsmen can do their homework against leg-spinners, like he did way back in 1998 in order to tackle Shane Warne before a home series against Australia.

Tendulkar roped in former India leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan to bowl to him on under-prepared pitches with rough on both sides.

But will today’s players be able to find time with the pressure of three formats?

“Of course, time is there. I don’t see any reason to say there’s no time. One needs to chalk out a plan and then follow that. It boils down to an individual.

“There are guys who like preparing and there are players, who would like to deal with a situation when it arises.”

Tendulkar has seen an evolution happen in world cricket since the time he made his India debut as a teenage prodigy at the age of 16 in 1989.

“Change has been the only constant thing. The biggest change has been the advent of T20 cricket and the kind of impact it has had on cricket-loving public. It has grabbed eye balls.

“When I started playing, for a considerable period, I have played ODI cricket in whites. But now even IPL’s standard of cricket has changed from what it was during first three years,” Tendulkar opined.

So would an 18-year-old Tendulkar have batted differently had IPL started in 1990 or 1991?

“Of course, I would have batted differently,” answered the man, who had scored a 17-ball half-century against Pakistan in an exhibition one-dayer in his debut series.