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    October 17, 2008

    Tendulkar gets past Lara, and makes yet another debutant's day

    In November 2005, the record for the most individual runs passed from Allan Border to Brian Lara. Today, Sachin Tendulkar became the holder of the record (and the first to get 12000 runs), as was probably ordained from the time he burst onto the Indian cricket scene 20+ years ago. The apocryphal story is that Sunil Gavaskar had told him soon after his debut that if he didn't get the most centuries and most runs, he would twist his arm. To that, Sachin replied that Sunny would be a very old and weak man by then. Well, at least we can now be spared of testing out Gavaskar's arm strength.

    Tendulkar has been one of the all-time greats of Indian cricket, and indeed world cricket, for easily over a decade now. I've been a critic and a fan. I am in total awe of his shotmaking (the punch through cover, the straight drive, the paddle sweep, the upper cut through third man, the ferociously hit reverse 'sweep', the flick over midwicket, etc.). In fact, I am in awe of the enormous poise that he has by and large (the Multan outburst excepted perhaps) maintained over two decades, as well as the art of batsmanship that he portrays almost everytime he bats.

    Sure, over the past 2-3 years his batting style has changed, but that doesn't bother me too much. In the past he had three roles to play - make a lot of runs, make them reasonably quickly, and ensure there's no collapse. Now, there is Sehwag to do the quick scoring, and in the past 6-7 years Laxman and Dravid have done the job of putting up a score through partnerships. So, Tendulkar can just be a run accumulator. So what if he doesn't evoke fear? Bowlers would much rather that Tendulkar attack them and get out for 24(30) than pile them up with a century made at a strike rate of 55. I know what I'd prefer.

    My criticism isn't about how he doesn't make runs when it counts, or him averaging 35 against South Africa. The first thing that I don't really like is the way he decides when he's fit and when he isn't, resulting in far too many aborted returns from injury. The second is the way his batting slot is always #4 (unless a nightwatchman had gone in). Everyone else moves around. Tendulkar has played 81% of his innings from #4. The corresponding numbers for the rest of India's middle order galacticos are 73% @ #3 for Dravid, 54% @ #5 for Ganguly & 37% @ #6 for Laxman. There have been so many occasions when others have been in much better form, presenting a valid case for moving him down the order. But he always comes out at #4. The only occasion where he was shielded was when Ganguly came in ahead of him at Melbourne in 2003.

    Oh, and there's one more thing about him that is downright irritating. It is the way he makes debutant bowlers so happy by becoming their first test wicket. The list is long, and some of the names are downright anonymous now. Ujesh Ranchod, Ruwan Kalpage, Mark Ealham, Adam Dale, Neil Johnson, Jacob Oram, Monty Panesar, Cameron White and now Peter Siddle.

    Would there be any other batsman who has been so generous to debutant bowlers?

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 7:45 PM |
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    2 sledge(s):

    It does not matter in which position a batsman plays as long as he scores some runs for the team. Take Sachin today and Ganguly...they came in to bat when India lost two quick wickets and took India to a comfortable position.

    By Blogger Srinivasarao Vundavalli (17-Oct-2008, 9:07:00 PM)  

    It is true and great.

    By Blogger Sanju (19-Oct-2008, 6:59:00 AM)  

    We'd prefer if you posted comments with your real name to add more credibility to your opinions. However, the moderators reserve the right to delete comments, especially those containing offensive or unsuitable language. The opinions in the comments are your own views. You are welcome to provide a URL to your own cricket blog, but the moderators reserve the right to delete comments which only reference sites for viewing live streams.

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