Sachin Tendulkar heaped praise on the superb batting exhibition put up by South Africa, especially their captain AB de Villliers in the deciding fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) against India that was held on 25 October.
"I felt that South Africa batted really well. I wouldn't want to take away the credit away from Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis but I thought de Villiers batted really well," said Tendulkar at the Mumbai Cricket Association's BKC ground after his first net session in a long time.
"I still remember I was watching a little bit and Shaun Pollock kept saying he has not shifted to sixth and seventh gear. It was rightly so, he has figured out how to pace his innings and he did it beautifully. I would give credit to the way he batted."
Asked whether de Villiers is ahead of his time, Tendulkar said, "Yes, he is. Absolutely! Maybe he is possibly at the peak of his career. He is really, really batting unbelievably well and it seems that he has got more time than anyone else."
However, true to his public demeanour he steered clear of any controversies over the preparation of the track at the Wankhede Stadium for the finale of the series that SA won by a whopping 214 runs after raking up a record-high (by all opposition against India) score of 438 for 4.
"I don't know what (Indian team director) Ravi (Shastri) spoke to the curator (Sudhir Naik)," replied the batting great and the only compiler of a staggering 100 international hundreds in the game's history when asked about the pitch and the raging controversy.
Shastri had reportedly used unparliamentary language to Naik in an angry exchange of words about the placid nature of the track prepared for the crunch game midway through the match, according to a complaint filed to Mumbai Cricket Association by the curator, himself a former Test opener.
Tendulkar on 27 October started preparations for the three-match T20 exhibition cricket tour of the USA next month where he and retired Australian great Shane Warne would lead opposing teams in the 'Cricket All-Stars Series 2015', at New York, Houston and Los Angeles.
Tendulkar, who bid an emotional farewell from all forms of the game in November, 2013 at the Wankhede, advised the Indian team's fans and critics to adopt a balanced approach to its performances.
"We have a very good team. Each team will go through phases. There will be patches where you will play well and there will be tough phases where things will get really difficult and things won't go to your plans. But that doesn't mean that every weekend you pass a judgement on your team.
"When they do well you say 'wow they have done really well' and following week if they don't do well you start criticising them. I think we need to show more balance and we all are passionate about cricket and we need to be patient also."
Tendulkar, who was on the cricket advisory committee formed by the BCCI, gave a diplomatic answer when asked whether the Indian squad needed a foreign or home grown coach except to say he should act as a friend, philosopher and guide to the players.
"I believe that a coach should be a capable coach and it doesn't matter whether he is a foreign coach or an Indian coach. The coach is one who keeps the team in a good space mentally and also conducts the practise sessions well.
"From my experience I can say that a good coach is one who can treat you as a friend, who can be a guide for the team. He should be someone who can always come to your help when you have a problem whether with batting or bowling or something else, you should feel comfortable to go and discuss it with him, I like those type of coaches." He also did not want to talk about the Indian squad's batting order.
"I am not involved so I am not one of those guys who would pass a loose statement not knowing the facts. I would be in a better position to say when I am involved in it," was the way he put it.
He was more forthcoming about the rule changes made by the International Cricket Council in ODIs and their effects over the last few years.
"It is the rules which has made all the difference. When I played, I remember the four fielder rule was there throughout the 50 overs and in the Powerplay you could change your field, but here more or less all 50 overs the rule changed, you could only have four fielders outside and that definitely put more pressure on the bowlers, I felt.
"With four fielders outside the circle the batsman has more option of scoring runs in boundaries, the batsmen who are prepared to take more risks. That is also to do with the T20 format, the batsmen have been practising certain shots which earlier nobody would play.
"But if you are talking about totals, it's definitely to do with field changes. The rules changed and that made teams set up higher totals.
"The statistics itself show that in the last three years, in the amount of matches played in Australia, you see the number of times the teams have gone 320-plus. I mean in the last 20 years they have not done that and in the last two years if you are able to do it then there is definitely (something) to do with the laws."