Cricket: Tendulkar now ready as captain

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The Independent Online
SACHIN TENDULKAR claims he has been pressed into taking over as India's Test captain, a job he had not previously been mentally prepared for.

The 26-year-old, brought back as captain in place of Mohammad Azharuddin, had been expecting the vice-captain, Ajay Jadeja, to get the job.

"I was not mentally prepared for taking up the captaincy because it is the practice for the vice-captain to be named the next captain," he said. "As it is I was pressurised a lot. I was concentrating on how to win matches for India and how to better myself because I did not get many runs in the World Cup."

Tendulkar said he had previously told the Indian Cricket Board president, Raj Singh Dungarpur, secretary Jaywant Lele and the chairman of selectors, Ajit Wadekar, that he was not ready to return to the captaincy which he had held before Azharuddin's recent stint.

Tendulkar says he has now accepted the challenge, however, and will try to live up to the confidence shown in him by the selectors. "I am definitely proud to lead the country. It is a great honour," he said.

Tendulkar will lead India in three limited-overs tournaments in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Kenya in August and September.

The suspension of Wasim Akram, the Pakistan captain, and two of his most senior players over match-fixing allegations was condemned yesterday by the country's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

The former Prime Minister believes the whole affair has been created to divert attention from ongoing political issues. "It is deplorable to see how sporting heroes of the nation are being hounded, giving the impression that Pakistan lacks sportsmanship spirit and is a bad loser," she said.

Ijaz Ahmed and Salim Malik have been suspended along with Wasim from the national team while match-fixing allegations are investigated by the government's anti-corruption Accountability Bureau.

Durham's 26-year-old all-rounder Michael Foster has had to retire from first-class cricket because of a chronic back condition. The Yorkshire- born player had a top score of 129 two years ago at Cardiff.