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Forget Kapil Dev’s Barbs, Sachin’s Centuries Meant More Than Doubles And Triples To India

November 2, 2015


Decades before the seal of “batsman’s game” got stamped to the envelope of cricket, a bunch of lightening fast and terrifyingly furious bowlers used to terrorize a generation of batsmen. The amount of assistance a batsman gets these days from the pitch, the bowlers from late seventies often enjoyed more than that. There wasn’t any bouncer limit, neither a helmet to take guard against those. No matter how many runs Virat Kohli scores or how fast centuries AB de Villiers hits, it simply won’t match up to the quality of the 34 test hundreds of Sunil Gavaskar under such fearsome conditions. Years after his retirement in came a small built 16 year old kid who looked 14 and almost immediately registered himself in the good books of many cricketing legends. The rest, as we all say, went to the history books, parts of which perhaps will never need to be rewritten again.

Sachin Tendulkar being a run-machine ruled the world for about two and a half decades with his monumental achievements. He owns and probably will own the record number of records (obviously including the one mentioned above) forever. With every single mountain climbed during his wonderful journey with 22 yards he kept winning millions of cricketing hearts and with every single feat achieved that number would shoot up like an exponential function. Even after 2 years of his retirement those hearts still beat for their hero. And then if someone takes swipe at him, no matter who he is or whatever he does, he can’t simply get away with that – not even the man who won India their first ever world cup, Kapil Dev Nikhanj.

Of course there are only a very few things at which I can take pride – one of them is being a die-hard Tendulkar fan right from the day I started watching cricket. While thousands of people across the country are slamming Kapil for his sudden comment that somewhere down the line Sachin did not know how to convert the centuries into double, triple or even quadruples; being a Sachinist it was not digestible for me either.

From the minute the news broke out I have been looking to find the reasons behind Kapil Dev’s barbs at Tendulkar. Even before I could find any a part of Mumbai burst into protest saying many of the cricketers from North didn’t like the players from Mumbai for some reasons. I am not very sure about the truth of this statement but surely this is not the first time Kapil Dev said something loose on Sachin Tendulkar. So unlike a few who consider this as elder brotherly words from Kapil on Sachin, I am not ready to admit the same. Rather I thought the former might have fancied to tribute Sehwag a bit on his retirement that Viru was the better between him and his role model from the aspect of aggression. But the question remains whether batting in a ruthless manner would have made Tendulkar a better batsman or not. Kapil thinks yes, however I don’t; and I have a few points at which he might just want to have a look.

“I have seen God, he bats at no. 4 for India” – Mathew Hayden’s quote on the master blaster still sends shivers down my spine. This is enough to suggest the amount of authority Sachin had over that number four slot. However it took some time before he could do that. Until so he had to bat at number 5, 6 or even 7 at times. Batting that much lower down the order doesn’t give you any chance to showcase the best of your batting abilities irrespective of your talent. Playing ruthlessly at that position doesn’t remind you of shielding your partner batting at the other end who is a tail-ender. Hence you can’t prevent the consequence of running out of partners.

Prior to that famous Sehwag-Gambhir pair Team India did not have a set combination on top for a very long time. They kept trying different openers who continued to disappoint. In addition to this, after the extinguish of Mohammad Azharuddin they did not even have a reliable no. 3 either. At that stage nobody thought that Rahul Dravid could be the one. So even after Sachin had his number fixed he often had to deal with the early fall of the top 3. That’s where he automatically had his role decided and it was to rebuild the innings and steady the ship. Being the best batsman of the team you won’t simply enjoy the luxury of playing your own way there.

Now let’s consider the cases when he had a good platform set by the top 3 and he came into the middle with say 200-2. At that stage had he got out cheaply in attempt of showing some needless aggression people won’t waste their time to do what they are known to do the best – criticizing him. Then they would say that he doesn’t contribute when the team is playing well and only scores when the others don’t; hence has little to do with winning matches. On the other hand, if he had gone on to score big, say a triple ton – would his partners at the other end keep blocking every ball? Obviously not! They would together put up somewhere around 250 as well which sums up the score to 750! Well, very few captains are that much kind to their fellow teammates. I have seen Dravid to declare the innings while Sachin batting on 194. A 300 seems far away, isn’t it?

Talking about 400s, how many times did a batsman score a 400? Only once. And that innings from Brian Lara was highly criticized by many people. Nobody can deny the fact that the innings dried up all the chances West Indies had of winning the match and turned that into a mere draw. Tendulkar in contrast would never put himself above the team and the game. He has stupendous personal milestones and astonishing moments to be proud of but when he is asked about his proudest moment, he always talks about the World Cup victory – just goes to show how great he was as a team-man.

When it comes to test cricket, not every single player can be given the license to go out in the field and do whatever he wants. Given that Sehwag had been by far the best player who can play in that manner, he was authorized to do the same. But the prime reason behind so was to back his natural game. After all Sehwag knew only one way of playing the game. Tendulkar on the other hand being a superiorly versatile cricketer has served his team in his own way, perhaps the best possible way.

Playing ultra-aggressive cricket seems nice till one attains the age of 33-34. But once he is there he can’t change his game anymore as that’s the way he had been playing all his life. After a certain age you can’t expect to generate the same power you used to generate 6 or 7 years ago – something which did not allow the likes of Sehwag to prolong his career. Even MS Dhoni is struggling to clear the ropes these days. Here too the master showed why he is the master. He simply grew older and got better like the old wine. If he had not known how to control his game he won’t have been able to do the same. This not only allowed him to play at the top level in top form even at the age of 38 but also guided his team to the historic world cup triumph in 2011.

A few more things I would like to add: having said all these things you still look at Sachin’s career and you will find 6 double hundreds in test matches. He had an amazing conversion rate. He could usually convert those overnight 30s or 40s into big hundreds, many of them being unbeaten knocks. Yet someone like Kapil Dev, a veteran cricketer himself questioning Tendulkar’s ability to convert the centuries into big centuries – really hard to imagine!

I have always believed that elegance have had its say over power in the game of cricket. Had cricket been a game of power altogether then wrestlers would have been playing it, not cricketers. It was Sachin’s elegance that made him the champion of champions. It was his copybook style that made him “The Sachin Tendulkar”. But it doesn’t mean that he lacked in the counterpart. He must not forget that he was a batsman who had a very formidable strike rate and his natural game was on the attacking side. He was the first man in the planet to clinch the double ton mark in the ODIs. When needed he could have been the most brutal batsman in the world. Talking about raw hitting, I can remember such instances where he made the likes of Dhoni and Sehwag look kids in front of him.

Shane Warne used to run away from Sachin in his nightmares after being beaten rampantly in Sharjah. And again, as he witnessed the unbreakable defence of the calm and composed little master during his double hundred in Sydney, he was bound to comment, “It seemed like he would never ever get dismissed”. That kind of an arresting blend was Sachin Tendulkar. Whatever he was, he was simply amazing. I wish Kapil Dev had thought twice before making such a remark on the greatest cricketer of this galaxy. Sorry sir, you might have been India’s greatest all rounder of all time, but you are a human after all, he is a superman instead.

One Comment
  1. Supriya permalink

    nice one.

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