Vol. 5 Num 272 Thu. March 03, 2005  

Study first: Sachin

India's cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar batted for harried parents across the country Wednesday by calling on students writing examinations not to allow the thrill of the upcoming series against Pakistan to disrupt their studies.

Pakistan's long-awaited tour of India coincides with annual examinations in schools and universities across India and parents are worried children will be distracted from their studies.

Tendulkar, regarded as a demi-god in the cricket-mad nation, said he sympathised with the students and recounted how he himself faced such a dilemma as a student in 1987.

"The World Cup was on in India and Pakistan at that time and it became difficult to concentrate on the exams," he said.

"But I focussed hard on my studies and cleared my exams.

"I feel sorry for the students, but as the cricket calendar is drawn up by the International Cricket Council, there is little that can be done.

"Children have to sacrifice. Cricket will be tempting for students, but the onus will be on them to be true to the task at hand," said the 31-year-old, a father of two children aged six and three.

Pakistan will play three Tests and six one-day internationals on their first full tour of India since 1999.

The first Test begins in Mohali on March 8.

Cricket board official Ratnakar Shetty said this was not the first time a cricket series was clashing with examinations.

"When the cricket season runs from October to April, matches will often be held at the same time as the exams," he said. "Ultimately, students have to set their priorities."

Deepa Bose, principal of a Delhi-based public school, said she had issued instructions that television sets on the premises will not be switched on for the cricket.

"We can be strict in school, hopefully the parents will be as strict at home," he said.