Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Twenty years of Tendulkar!
I see that lots of journalists including Reobuck are writing about Tendulkar as he completes 20 years in international cricket. So after watching the great man bat for a long time I also thought of writing an article about him.
To start with playing 20 years of internationals in itself is a great achievement and it is amazing to see that he is still doing well as a batsman.
The first glimpses of Tendulkar’s batting I saw was way back in the early 90’s. I still remember his century at Old Trafford in 90 and at Perth in 92. Here was a little man hardly about 5 ft. 5 inch tall taking on international class bowlers like Fraser, McDermott, Hughes and co. and looking at ease against them . His knock at Perth was special for sure as he made mincemeat of the Aussie bowling attack on a lightning quick track at Perth. Dermot and co. had destroyed the feeble Indian top order but Tendulkar stood firm amongst the ruins as he cut and pulled the Aussie quicks all over the park and whenever they tried to pitch it up he played that trademark starightdrive. The next highest score for the Indian team was 48 by the keeper More but the young Tendulkar didn’t lose his concentration as he went onto make a brilliant century. The trend of Tendulkar doing well and others collapsing around him continued throughout the 90’s before players like Dravid and Laxman started to make their mark in the late 90’s.
He was very consistent throughout the 90’s but the next great knock I saw him play was at Edgbaston. The match was played in early May and as expected it was helping the quicker bowlers as in the first innings Cork and Lewis easily destroyed the Indian batting line up. England got a handy lead as India clearly missed a third seamer to support the tireless Srinath and the swing bowler Prasad. So when India came onto bat the second time around the onus was clearly on Tendulkar as it was clear that if anyone in the Indian batting line up could survive the testing conditions it was him and didn’t he play a masterful knock? From the start he looked in great touch as he played some majestic cover drives and it looked like Tendulkar was batting on a easy paced wicket and other batsmen were batting on a very difficult wicket. He again played like a colossus in a team made up of feeble batsmen who to be frank looked out of their depth in conditions foreign to them. The next highest score was 18 by Manjraker! Finally he got out but not before he gave India a lead of at least 150 odd runs which England was able to knock off very easily. So it was another match in which Tendulkar got no support from others.
I also saw him make a 40 odd on a dicey track in the Caribbean. It may have been just 40 odd runs but the way he was able to pick the length so quickly and pull Ambrose on a track where the batsmen were finding it hard to judge the bounce was a treat to watch. The knock was cut short by a poor decision but I can only laugh at comments about him being suspect on tracks that has something in it for the bowlers. During that time he also scored a brilliant century at Capetown and again the feeble top order fell like a pack of cards.
He made a great 155 at Madras on a turning track against Aus as he pasted Warne all over the park. His ability to hit him out of the rough was just amazing to watch. The 155 he scored turned the match on its head as Warne got the pasting of his life. Reportedly he asked some local leg spinners to bowl around the wicket so that he could work on playing Warne from around the wicket. It just shows his amazing dedication to succeed as a player.
I didn’t watch his knock at Madras against Pak. in 99 but at that time Saqlain was mesmerizing the batsmen with his dozra and even the Indian batsmen struggled a bit but not Tendulkar who scored a brilliant century against Akram, Younis and Saqlain and took India close to victory only to see the lower order batsmen throwing their wickets away as India lost.
At that time he also was made the captain of the side and that wasn’t a happy time for him as the Indian team was whitewashed in Aus in 99/00. Seriously though the inexperienced Indian line up never stood a chance against the Aus. team in their own backyard. Tendulkar though did score a hundred at Melbourne.
As the 90’s came to an end players like Dravid and Laxman started to emerge and that took a bit of pressure away from Tendulkar. Laxman and Dravid rightly got all the accolades in that great series against Aus. in 2001 for their monumental partnership which turned the game upside down but Tendulkar did score a vital hundred again at his favorite ground Madras.
As the years went by Tendulkar started to have injury problems and didn’t look the same carefree batsmen of the past but he still was able produce the odd bit of magic. A few examples can be that 193 at Headingley, his knock of 50 on a pacy Durban wicket in the 03 world cup when Caddick stupidly said that he would test the great man with short pitch stuff as he thought that Tendulkar had a weakness against it only to see Tendulkar hook the first time Caddick tried to bowl short and hit it for a huge six. It surely took the wind out of the sails of Caddick. He did make a superb 98 against Shoaib and co. at Centurion in that world cup and took India to victory.
In recent times too he has played some fine knocks. He tormented the Aussies once more in their own backyard in 07/08 and ended the tour with a match winning knock in the CB series final. A timely reminder to his critics that he can play match winning knocks but just like any other player he needs support from the other end which he got in that match. In England in 07 too he played some fine knocks and of course one can add that fine century at Madras against England in 08/09 which took India to victory. One can’t forget that 175 he played recently at Hyderabad either.
Tendulkar may not be the same player that he used to be as nowadays he tends to play away from the body early in his innings but it is good to see that he is still doing well and when one thinks about the fact that there is so much pressure on him what with 1 billion people wanting India to win it is just amazing to see that he has been able to survive for 20 years and still has the hunger for more runs.
Finally this is an article not written for comparison between Tendulkar and others but just to congratulate him for bringing so much joy to cricket fans around the world!