Sachin Tendulkar, who broke the record for the highest individual ODI score, overtaking Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry on his way to the format's first double-hundred, has said his ability to bat the entire 50 overs was a testament to his fitness after having played the game for more than 20 years.
"It feels good that I lasted for 50 overs, a good test of my fitness. I'd like to bat another 50 overs at some stage and see that the fitness level doesn't drop," Tendulkar said after his effort helped India take a unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. "The ball was coming onto the bat and I was striking the ball well. So when everything falls into its place, it feels nice. It was one of the innings where I felt I was moving well. Since I was timing the ball well, I could be more aggressive and put pressure on the bowlers."
Tendulkar, while dedicating his feat to the people of India, credited coach Gary Kirsten for the team's success in both forms of the game after the debacle in the World Cup in the Caribbean. "I've enjoyed various challenges; after the 2007 World Cup things have looked different and I'm enjoying the game," he said. "The credit also goes to Gary [Kirsten], he has really held the team beautifully. It's about togetherness and playing for each other. You see during the practice sessions that Gary himself trains as hard as anyone else, or probably harder than anyone else as he's the one giving us practice all the time."
Tendulkar said he sensed an opportunity to break the record and reach a double-century when he had gone past 175 in the 42nd over. The record eventually came in the 46th over, and the 200 in the 50th. "When I was near 175-180, I thought I could get a 200 as there were quite a few overs left," he said. He added that he would prefer his achievement to be upstaged by an Indian. "I don't play for records, I play for enjoyment and play with lots of passion. That's how cricket started. I didn't start playing cricket to break all the records; it's happened along the way. The dream was to play for India and do my best.
"I don't think any record is unbreakable. Records are made to be broken. I hope that if this record is broken, it's done by an Indian."
This was India's third-highest score in ODIs, and Tendulkar said the 400-mark would not have reached if not for some big hitting by Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni. "I thought a target of 340-350 would be a good one, but Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni came in and hit the big shots and cleared the ropes consistently and helped us pass 400."
Tendulkar added that India were not relaxing despite having put up a mammoth score, for they were aware South Africa were the only team to have chased down a target in excess of 400. "This was the team that chased 434 against Australia. So we didn't get complacent and told ourselves that we had just got through the half-way stage by scoring 401. And what we did in the second half was extremely important. We were aiming at getting early wickets and putting them out of the game."
Dhoni, who witnessed Tendulkar surpass the record from the other end, said: "I think one of the best innings, you can say. It's always good to be on the other side, watching him score 200 runs. When he is tired and can't play the big shots, he was very clever to use the pace of the bowler and it's very difficult for the bowlers as they don't know where exactly to bowl."
India lost Virender Sehwag early, and Tendulkar was assisted in three sizable stands where runs came at a brisk pace, with Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf and Dhoni. "Once Viru got out, it was important to get some kind of a partnership going. They [Tendulkar and Karthik] went on with their innings, and they set a platform after which we were sure we would get 350-plus which would be a difficult target," Dhoni said. "Yusuf was sent up the order and with the talent he's got, he can be a great asset to the side."
Yusuf scored a quickfire 36 and was particularly lethal during the batting Powerplay, while Dhoni proved destructive at the death, bludgeoning 68 off 35 in a century-stand with Tendulkar in just 53 balls. "I have changed my batting a bit, but the situation demanded that kind [attacking] of innings," Dhoni said. "The ground is a small one, and we were a bit worried about the dew factor. But once they lost 3-4 early wickets, it was difficult for them to get back into the game."
For South Africa and their stand-in captain Jacques Kallis, it was a case of the basics gone wrong. "The toss was quite vital. Our basics were just weren't good enough today. We were outplayed," Kallis said. "We lost wickets at crucial stages, our basics let us down. A fantastic innings by Sachin; he took advantage of some good conditions and he played superbly. We let ourselves down in some areas."