Thank my countrymen for showing faith in my integrity: Sachin

New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) Sachin Tendulkar feels that hecan''t thank his countrymen enough for the amount of faith theyhave showed in his integrity during his 21 illustrious yearsin international cricket.

In the recently released book ''Sach'' written by notedscribe Gautam Bhattacharya, one gets to know the rareemotional side of the maestro as he spoke on a host of issuesincluding how the entire country supported him during theball-tampering episode in 2001 tour of South Africa.

He also spoke about how he dealt with the uglymatch-fixing episode, and the tragic 26/11 terror attack onMumbai.

Referring to episode of ball-tampering when match-refereeMike Denness handed him a one match ban on alleagtions oftrying to lift the seam during a Test match at Port Elizabeth,Sachin has been quoted as saying, "But despite the incident, Iwas so happy for the trust and faith that the entire countryexpressed in me.

"At times, it has been written that a nation walked withme every time I went out to bat. Here there was no bat. Yetthey showed such faith in my integrity that I was touched.

Till date I can''t forget that."

Tendulkar, who has been a picture of dignity during hislong international career did admit being "shattered" withallegations levelled by Denness.

"You know, I was completely shocked and shattered when hesaid the charge against me was for ball tampering. I triedtelling him what the truth was. That I was just cleaning thegrass on the ball. I was not picking the seam. At no stage didI do that.

"If someone is trying to remove grass, how can you levyball-tampering charges against him? But the match refereewould hear none of it. Since then, whenever I clean the ball,I keep the umpires posted."

When the murky episode of match-fixing rocked the nation,Tendulkar was like a picture of resilience.

When asked about his feelings during the entirefixing-saga, the holder of a world record 97 internationalcenturies, said,"I was just doing what every Indian wassupposed to do. I was just doing my duty and did not think itwas any different from what I had done in the past. I was justfollowing the same routine....

"Around that time, I received a certificate from IncomeTax department for paying my taxes honestly. That gives me alot of satisfaction. I was just hoping that my father had beenalive to see it," said the man who still looks heavenwards andutters a silent prayer in the memory of his father RameshTendulkar, everytime he completes a ton.

Talking about the tragic 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai,Tendulkar also spoke about the pain he went through asinnocent Indians lost their lives.

"We were playing at Cuttack (against England). At nightwe came to know about the attack. Of course, first you callhome and enquire about the safety of your near and dear ones.

"Then keep glued to TV to try and find out what exactly isgoing on. What was happening to the nation was difficult todigest.

"I felt very sad and couldn''t come to terms with it. Iwas almost numb and didn''t know what had hit me. It took awhile to get myself back on track. That must surely rank asone of the most disappointing days of my life," he said. PTIKHS

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