Hyderabad: Batting great Sachin Tendulkar today said he never thought IPL would become so big since its inception in 2008 and lauded the cash-rich T20 tournament for spreading the game to non-cricketing countries.
"I can't believe that IPL has completed 10 years. This is a big achievement and it would not have been possible without the support of spectators. When IPL was announced in 2007 and when we played for the first time in 2008, honestly, I never thought IPL will be so big," said the iconic cricketer during the opening ceremony of the IPL-10 here.
Tendulkar and three other Indian cricket icons -- Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and V V S Laxman -- were felicitated by the BCCI for their contribution to the game.
Another Indian legend, Rahul Dravid, was also to be felicitated but he could not make it to the ceremony as he was busy with his duty as team mentor of Delhi Daredevils.
"It is a matter of pride that in India a big tournament like IPL has happened and which the whole world has taken notice of. I thought it won't be as competitive as it is right now. But as the tournament progressed, its competitiveness, its competitive juice inside, sportsmanship, have gone to a different level," said Tendulkar.
"The spectators are enjoying. The best part of IPL is that cricket has gone to those countries which has got nothing to do with cricket. That has happened due to IPL," said Tendulkar, who was part of the title-winning Mumbai Indians team in 2011 and 2013.
He said all the teams are well balanced and the side that utilises its resources the best and which can keep injuries to its critical players to the minimum, can win the tournament.
Laxman felt IPL has revolutionised the dynamics of cricket with new fans and new followers, including the purists, embracing T20 cricket.
"The mindset of cricketers has changed. They are more positive, the batsmen have become more aggressive. The bowlers know how to bowl defensive line and length. The biggest gain has been that of uncapped Indian domestic players as they are rubbing shoulders with top players from India and abroad."
Ganguly said that the atmosphere in IPL matches has not been inferior to the one experienced at football World Cups.
"Hopefully, we will be there in the 20th edition of the IPL. Today when a young player come out and play in front of 30 to 40 thousand screaming spectators, he has to score under pressure and it will take his game to another level. IPL is taking Indian cricket forward and it will get bigger and bigger," said Ganguly.
Sehwag said that IPL has succeeded in entertaining cricket fans.
"I love IPL. I am the only one to play a game of cricket in all formats in a similar way. I never changed my mindset. I always tried to attack in Test, ODI and T20. I believe in one thing that if you are playing cricket you should entertain people.