New Delhi (Agencies): He is the God of cricket but the feather of a World Cup win evades his glorious hat. With 1.2 billion cricket crazy fans in India and millions abroad praying for India to repeat 1983, it is not easy being an icon on field.

Adds to it the pressure that India is co-hosting the tournament and will stage the April 2 final in Mumbai, Tendulkar's home town.  Even Don Bradman, whose feats at the crease during the Great Depression sustained an emerging nation's morale, did not endure the pressure Tendulkar will confront!

"Every time I go out, the country needs me,'' he said recently, adding that it only made him hungrier to keep scoring runs. He already has scored more centuries and more runs in both Test and limited-overs cricket than any other batsman and is ahead of all runmakers at the World Cup heading into his sixth edition of the tournament.

Lord of the pitch

According to a recent poll, Tendulkar is the best-known Indian alive with a status equivalent to a Hindu God or a Bollywood film star; he even surpassed Mahatma Gandhi in popularity in the poll. When he faced the former Pakistan opening bowler Wasim Akram the television audience in India exceeded the entire population of Europe!

"Batsmen walk out into the middle alone," wrote the Indian poet and critic C.P. Surendran. "Not Tendulkar. Every time Tendulkar walks to the crease, a whole nation, tatters and all, marches with him to the battle arena."

Tendulkar scored his 51st test century this year after a battle with South African fast bowler Dale Steyn recalling Bradman's jousts with England's Harold Larwood in the 1932-33 Bodyline series.

Three more one-day hundreds in the World Cup climaxing in his native Mumbai on April 2 would make him the only batsman to total 100 centuries over both forms of the game, a landmark which, like Bradman's test average of 99.94, is most likely to last forever.

World Cup challenge

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni doesn't think the extra burden will hurt India's chances, and there is a determination to help Tendulkar complete his resume by delivering the country of 1.2 billion people its first World Cup title since Kapil Dev's squad shocked the all-conquering West Indies at Lord's in 1983.

Former cricket captain Bishan Singh Bedi said the milestone man has a big role to play in the marquee event, calling him "the finest ever sportsman the country has produced".

The first challenge will come on the opening day, when Dhoni and company go to Dhaka and take on Bangladesh, which in 2007 produced a group-stage upset that played a large role in India's early exit.

The 14 teams have been divided into two groups, with the top four in each pool advancing to the knockout stage.

Australia is with Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada in Group A. India is in Group B with South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands.

England captain Andrew Strauss returned to London this week for the first time in 3 1/2 months, saying his squad would be bolstered by the return of crucial bowlers for the World Cup and that the lost ODI series in Australia was not a true indication of form.

England has been consistently near the top of the betting markets for the World Cup, with only India and Sri Lanka consistently at shorter odds. England has lost three World Cup finals, including the seven-run defeat to Australia at Calcutta in 1987, but lifted their curse in major limited-overs tournaments by beating Australia to claim the World Twenty20 crown in 2010.

South Africa has never reached a cricket World Cup final, stopped in the semifinals twice by Australia and once by a cruel rain-interruption which cost them an almost certain win against England in 1992.

Bangladesh has been cleaning and preening its streets and stadiums and has expectations of its own.

Now ranked No. 8 and playing all its group matches at home, Bangladesh is aiming for a quarterfinals spot at least. It caused some major upsets by beating India and South Africa in 2007 and Pakistan in 1999, but perceptions of the team at home and abroad have shifted.