Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  

'I'm fully fit'

Indian batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar Monday said he was looking forward to Pakistan's upcoming tour of India after regaining fitness.

"I'm fully fit and preparing for the big series against Pakistan," Tendulkar said ahead of a domestic fixture, having recovered from a tennis elbow that troubled him over the past season.

"I'm here to prepare myself in a particular way," he told a news conference in the southern city on Monday.

"At this moment I'm fit to play, that's why I'm here. I have to see how I go in the match. Nobody knows what's going to happen but right now I feel fully fit."

Tendulkar, 31, has been in and out of the team since August due to the injury, missing one-day tournaments in the Netherlands and England before playing the last two home Tests against Australia in October.

He also played two Tests in Bangladesh, scoring a double-century that helped him equal compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's world record of 34 Test centuries, before aggravating the injury.

The Mumbai player will test his fitness in a match situation when he leads West Zone in a four-day Duleep Trophy tie against South Zone starting on Tuesday.

India paceman Irfan Pathan, who missed several domestic games this month due to a side strain, will also make his comeback in the same game.

"I have done whatever doctors and physios have asked me to do and I am playing this match because I think I'm fit," said Tendulkar, who wore an elbow strap during practice.

"I have to wait and see how things go and can't predict what is in store as regards fitness, but I am preparing for the international matches ahead of us," Tendulkar said.

The master batsman did not read too much into Pakistan's recent tour of Australia where they lost a Test series 3-0 and went down to the home side in the finals of a tri-series competition with the West Indies.

"You can't judge a team by past performances. This is a fresh series and they must be very keen to do well here," said Tendulkar.

Pakistan are making their first full tour of India since 1999.

They arrive in India on February 28 to play three Tests and six one-dayers apart from two practice games.

India last year won a Test series 2-1 and a one-day series 3-2 on what was their first full tour across the border in more than 14 years because of political tensions.