Kolkata: West Indies batting great Brian Lara on Sunday said Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket what Michael Jordan is to basketball and Mohammad Ali to boxing and suggested that the Indian batsman should try scoring 400 in his last Test match.
Lara is the only batsman in the history of the game to have scored 400 runs in a Test innings.
In a talk show with former India captain Sourav Ganguly here this evening, Lara said in term of greatness, no cricketer can get close to Tendulkar.
"In terms of stats, you're going to have players with better stats, you never know. Virat has been exception in One-day games. There are boxers who have better record than Mohammad Ali but if you mention about boxing you've to mention Mohammad Ali, Basketball you have to mention Michael Jordan. When you speak about cricket, you'll speak about Tendulkar," Lara said.
Lara said Tendulkar should not take any pressure of performance in his 200th Test and he should just go out and enjoy the game.
"I would tell him, you had the greatest cricketing career than anyone. I don't think any career compares with Tendulkar in terms of cricketing career. Just enjoy the next five days of cricket. You have the ability to score 400 runs, go score 400..."
Asked what must be going on in Tendulkar's mind ahead of his last match, Lara said it was hard to predict.
"But if I was in his shoes at the moment I would think I don't need to prove anything. It would be wonderful to get a big score in his last match. I would prepare for that. But I would not put any undue pressure. I've nothing to prove. It's very important for him to find what motivates him. If it's pressure then let him be under pressure."
Asked whether Tendulkar's glittering career was dragged a bit long, Lara chose to disagree.
"I've answered this question on many occasions. Sachin Tendulkar deserved the respect to decide when he wanted to leave the game. Obviously everybody is entitled to give their opinion. Tendulkar has served Indian cricket and world cricket so well over the years. He has given over 25 years of his life to cricket. We're just sitting today and talking about...
"A Test match is eight days, if you're ready to check. Two days of practice and a day of travelling afterwards. If you multiply that by 200 and all the ODIs he has played, this guy has given yeoman service to cricket.
We never thought about playing 200 matches in the Test in the past. He he's still very fit. I think this is the best opportunity to walk away from the game. We know his performances in the last couple of years has not been great."
The West Indies legend said the cricketers who have shared dressing room with him can tell what effect he had on young Indian cricketers.
"But we don't know sitting here the effect he had on the young Indian team. I think you need to go and speak to the guys in the dressing room. The likes of Virat Kohli and others and they would tell you the impact they had from this guy. Don't just look at the stats. He's played well, and he's 40."
Lara was also asked how he would have planned for the Mumbai Test if he was to lead the West Indies.
"My game plan would be just to win the game. Sachin would have been discussed as every other player. You play the game hard, play for five days. This occasion in India at the Eden and in Mumbai, they are very special occasions not just for Tendulkar but for cricket as a whole. The occasion is slightly bigger than the result."
Terming retirement as tough, Lara said, "You've to realise that. It's not a job you do after your schooling days. You devote your time a youngster to make it to the top level. But there comes a time when you've to make the tough decision.
"We were still in doldrums a bit and a decline. But I felt it was right time to leave. Maybe they needed to mould a young team at that point of time. I felt it was a right decision holistically moving away from the game."
Talking about Tendulkar's decision to quit, Ganguly said, "It's the right send off. 200th Test. He deserves this much of respect. It would not have happened in South Africa. He may have got runs or not but the adulation he's receiving here is something special. It's great to see him go that way. I'm happy that he's gone. It's a fantastic decision."
"He (Tendulkar) is still one of the best. I just put him a little bit ahead of Lara as I played in the same time. He'll always be the champion," Ganguly said.
Tendulkar was out in the first Test against the West Indies due to a poor umpiring decision but Ganguly said it's part of the game.
"Don't think anybody does it deliberately. Everybody has enormous respect for Sachin. Everyone is human."