Mumbai, Oct 27: Retired batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar today heaped wholesome praise on the superb batting exhibition put up by South Africa, especially their captain AB de Villiers in the deciding fifth and final One-Day International against India last Sunday here.
"I felt that South Africa batted really well. I wouldn't want to take away the credit away from Quinton de Kock, du Plessis and de Villiers. I thought de Villiers batted really well," said Tendulkar at the Mumbai Cricket Association's BKC ground after his first net session in a long time.
"If you see the first 20 balls he faced and at no stage, I still remember I was watching a little bit and Shaun Pollock kept saying he has not shifted to sixth and seventh gear. It was rightly so, he has figured out how to pace his innings and he did it beautifully. I would give credit to the way he batted."
Asked whether de Villiers is ahead of his time, Tendulkar said, "Yes, he is. Absolutely! Maybe he is possibly at the peak of his career. He is really, really batting unbelievably well and it seems that he has got more time than anyone else." (If India missed Ashwin, we were without our 'best seamer' Morkel: De Villiers)
However, true to his public demeanour he steered clear of any controversies over the preparation of the track at the Wankhede Stadium for the finale of the series that SA won by a whopping 214 runs after raking up a record-high (by all opposition against India) score of 438 for 4.
"I don't know what (Indian team director) Ravi (Shastri) spoke to the curator (Sudhir Naik)," replied the batting great and the only compiler of a staggering 100 international hundreds in the game's history when asked about the pitch and the raging controversy. (Tendulkar and Warne want T20 cricket at Olympics)
Shastri had reportedly used unparliamentary language to Naik in an angry exchange of words about the placid nature of the track prepared for the crunch game midway through the match, according to a complaint filed to Mumbai Cricket Association by the curator, himself a former Test opener.
Tendulkar today started preparations for the three-match T20 exhibition cricket tour of the USA next month where he and retired Australian great Shane Warne would lead opposing teams in the 'Cricket All-Stars Series 2015', at New York, Houston and Los Angeles.