New Delhi:Some of the world's greatest cricketers have heaped encomiums on Sachin Tendulkar as he reaches another milestone in his career with former Australian skipper Steve Waugh paying him the ultimate tribute by calling him the "Bradman of our times".
A day before completing 20 years of international cricket, Tendulkar's peers doffed their hats to the batting genius, recalling their association with him.
"The last time I watched Sachin was last week when he was on his way to a spectacular 175 and once again I felt that I was watching a player who comes but once in a century. It can be said that he is the Bradman of our times and I do feel privileged to have played a lot of cricket against him," Waugh said in his tribute.
Considered a ruthless and aggressive captain, Waugh said even he had a nightmarish time setting his fielders whenever Tendulkar marched in to the crease.
"Sachin always brought with him an amazing sporting presence. It was a captain's nightmare to set a field for him when he was in full flow. It was akin to getting stuck in a tornado - the noise made it impossible to communicate with the fielders.
The man who called sledging mental disintegration, Waugh said the tactic never really worked in Tendulkar's case.
"On his day Sachin could take a game away from under your nose very quickly. His uncanny ability to find gaps, his running between the wickets and his sheer presence at the wicket was unsettling for the opposition.
"Sachin rarely got into verbal duels and soon we too realised that sledging him only strengthens his concentration and resolve. No wonder then that some of the most talkative Australians went quiet when Sachin was in the middle."
Waugh also lauded the way Tendulkar conducted himself off the field and said he admired the composure with which the Indian handled expectations of a cricket-mad nation.
"His innate decency as always shone through his ruthlessness on the field. For most of his career, he has wanted to dominate the bowlers and stamp his supremacy on the opposition. He has always conducted himself exceptionally in public light which must not be easy.
"I know that Sachin has learnt to embrace the pressures and expectations that 1.2 billion fans place on him. He seems to thrive on their goodwill and has rarely mentioned it as a burden," he said.
"...when he is full flow, the mild-mannered boyish cricketer can look extremely intimidating. If there is a resonance, I find of myself in his batting, it is in that intent that he communicates," Richards said.
Comparing Tendulkar and Brian Lara, Richards said, "If I were to make a distinction between Brian and Sachin, it would be to point that Sachin was a more committed individual. He was more consistent in his commitment to the team. Sachin is also the more disciplined cricketer between the two and perhaps that is why he is still around, 20 years after his international career."
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan said Tendulkar is way ahead of contemporaries like Inzamam-ul Haq when it comes to keeping himself focussed on the game.
"Over the years Sachin has remained remarkably consistent and has more records than anybody I can remember. His talent and versatility are unquestioned which is why the only question that rankles is why he did not win enough games for his team?
"Very often he has taken his team to the brink of a famous win before getting out. If there is one area Sachin is ahead of his contemporaries, it is focus. Inzamam-ul Haq was possibly more gifted but Sachin was more successful due to his commitment and focus.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Tendulkar's ability to adapt to the varying conditions was his biggest strength.
"His biggest strength as a batsman is his adaptability.
And that is something really. really amazing, something so special," he said.