Mumbai, Feb 7: Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar today said fans must stand by the Indian team during the World Cup since there will surely be tough times and obstacles in their title defence.
"Obviously you want them to go out and thrash the opposition and win each and every match but that is not possible. Sometimes you have to accept defeat and that can also be a learning experience in a tournament like World Cup," Tendulkar said at an MRF event.
"There are going to be difficult moments, there are going to be obstacles along the way but not just the team, if you all are together, it becomes inspiring for the players to move forward, knowing that the nation is not sitting on top of the head but the nation is moving ahead along with it. I would urge everyone to support our team.
"Earlier I batted for India on the field, now I continue to bat for India off the field. Something that really matters to a sportsman is genuine support and that is what I would like to extend."
Tendulkar said the upcoming World Cup will be a new experience for him as he won't be part of it, having featured in six editions of the cricketing extravaganza.
Ball boy to WC ambassador
"Being a World Cup ambassador is truly an honour and it has happened for the second time. Last time I was ambassador and we played the 2011 World Cup and I was actually part of it. This time I am not. I am really looking forward to this experience because this is the first time that I won't be playing. It's a new experience for me," he said.
The batting maestro said his life has come a full circle. "World Cup journey started for me in 1983. I watched India win an excellent finals against West Indies and then Kapil paaji holding that beautiful trophy in the balcony of Lord's.
The next experience which was even greater, I was a ball boy at the Wankhede stadium and I got to see all the superstars of Indian cricket from a close vicinity. "And then to become an ambassador of 2011 and 2015 World Cup it feels like I have done a full circle," he said.
Tendulkar, who bid goodbye to cricket in November 2013, was part of India's World Cup-winning squad in 2011 when the Men in Blue carried the Master Blaster on their shoulders at the Wankhede Stadium.
Sachin's association with MRF
Leading tyre maker MRF, one of the global sponsors for the cricket World Cup, launched a special edition World Cup tyre ZSport and Tendulkar said his association with the company has been quite old.
"My association with MRF started when I was a 12 year old wanting to become a fast bowler. Luckily before leaving from Mumbai to Chennai, my brother Ajit told me to carry the kitbag just incase I needed to bat.
"In retrospect that was the wisest decision because the first session itself Dennis (Lillee) came to me and he said I think it's a better option for you to put your pads on and get in the nets.
"For any sportsman, one thing you should never lose is hope. Hope will always allow you to push yourself harder. I actually had that but unfortunately because I am vertically challenged, obviously it was a little difficult to hold the seam upright and I preferred to bowl leg spin which was an easier option looking at my physique.
"I remember after I started playing for India, for a while I played with a bland bat only for the reason that tobacco companies had approached me and I didn't want to be associated with tobacco companies. I played with the bland bat also during the World Cup.
"In the middle of the World Cup, Mark Mascrenhas my manager then, gave me the news that MRF had signed a contract, and they have agreed to move ahead with you. They will sponsor your bat stickers and you will advertise their tyres," he said.