Michael Clarke reckons cricket is "blessed" to have Sachin Tendulkar playing the game; Dan Vettori described it as "one of the greatest achievements in one-day cricket".

When the Indian hero hit the first double century in ODI cricket against South Africa at Gwalior yesterday, he drew high praise from the skippers of Australia and New Zealand.

"I can't say I'm surprised," Australian Twenty20 captain Clarke said. "He's probably the greatest batsman I've ever seen play live. He's got so much class, and he's still as good as ever, if not better."

New Zealand skipper Vettori reckoned in hitting 200 not out off 147 balls, the world's highest test and ODI scorer and centurymaker has "ticked off another box".

"He's a great inspiration for players of that age [Tendulkar is 36].

"He continues to be driven, continues to want to succeed, and wants to keep playing. Nothing seems to hold him back."

The previous record, 194, was established by Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar against India in 1997, and equalled last year by Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry against Bangladesh in Bulawayo.

"I'd like to dedicate this double hundred to the people of India who have stood by me no matter what for the last 20 years," man of the match Tendulkar said at the prize-giving ceremony.

"There have been ups and downs, but they have supported me."

Tendulkar has carried the expectations of a nation of 1.2 billion people since his debut as a 16-year-old in 1989.

He holds the record for most runs in tests (13,447) and one-day internationals (17,598) and most centuries in tests (47) and ODIs (46).

Tendulkar's 200 included 25 fours and three sixes in a masterly effort that combined poise with raw power.

The former India captain reached the landmark with a single off Charl Langeveldt in the final over after moving past the previous record score of 194 jointly held by Pakistan's Saeed Anwar and Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry with a two off pacer Wayne Parnell.

"I thought about the 200 mark for the first time when I was probably 175 plus and only 32 overs had been bowled," Tendulkar said.

"I felt I had a chance but I didn't make it my aim until I got really close. Only then I thought there was an opportunity to be had."

Tendulkar's previous highest one-day individual score was 186 not out against NZ in Hyderabad in 1999.

"I thought I could take the singles and give [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni the strike, because he was striking the ball very well," said Tendulkar who put on 101 for the unbroken fourth wicket with the captain.

"As for the way the body is coping, it feels good that I lasted 50 overs and it has been a good test of my fitness," said Tendulkar, who scored a century in each of the two tests in the drawn series against South Africa this month.

"I'd like to bat for another 50 overs at some stage and ensure the fitness levels don't drop."

Anwar made 194 against India in May 1997 while Coventry hit the same total not out against Bangladesh last year.

MOST ODI RUNS (x-active)

17,598-x-Sachin Tendulkar, India (442 matches)
13,428-x-Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka (444)
12,731-x-Ricky Ponting, Australia (340)
11,739-Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan (378)
11,363-Sourav Ganguly, India (311)


46-x-Sachin Tendulkar, India (442 matches)
29-x-Ricky Ponting, Australia (340)
28-x-Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka (444)
22-Sourav Ganguly, India (311)
21-x-Herschelle Gibbs, South Africa (247)

- additional reporting Agencies