Posts Tagged ‘Sachin Tendulkar’

Cricket is not a one-way traffic zone and the Indian team – which probably thinks batting alone can win them the World Cup – was taught a lesson on Sunday by England who exposed the co-hosts’ Achilles heel called fielding and the single-man bowling army called Zaheer Khan.



It is the year of cricket World Cup and January 17 was the date Indian think-tank decided to sit down and prune the preliminary squad of 30 to final 15.

The excitement moved nicely to the point when Kris Srikkanth’s voice came from somewhere behind the media mikes that covered his face. The team was a good one but on analyzing after every name sank in, it appeared to be India’s ‘slowest’ till date. Let me define how!


The little master and very, very special Laxman didn’t disappoint Indian fans on day five as the pair dusted Lankan hopes of winning the series with a 2-0 margin at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo on Saturday.

The onus to find a way out of Suraj Randiv’s craftily knitted web rested squarely on Sachin Tendulkar and those to follow night-watchman Ishant Sharma’s foreseeable early dismissal on the final day.

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The 22-yard strips, like the one used in the second India-Sri Lanka Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo, will make it difficult for Test cricket to come off the ventilator.

Ever since the advent of T20, Test cricket had to be swiftly moved into the intensive care unit to make sure it negotiates a critical phase of its existence. But when you have close to 1500 runs scored and just 17 wickets fall in five days, bowlers requiring over 200 overs to bowl a side out, two double hundreds and three hundreds scored and a last-wicket partnership lasting almost 30 overs, the dreariness is set to soar and crash through its measurement scale.

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Something kept me at bay from coming to my blog and scribble this and that about my beloved – Cricket. Honestly, I didn’t make any attempts to find what caused this abeyance, nor do I wish to waste time on that now. All I want to do is keep that abeyance at bay. So here I am, back, to pamper my beloved and hear the vuvuzela sound from the FIFA World Cup.

A lot happened and a lot is happening, as is the nature of the taxing ICC calendar. But the off-field events in this time-gap were as newsy as the on-field show of skills.

To kick off this piece, PCB was back to its hilarious best. It must be said that they are very clever in conniving how to bring their players out of a ‘fix’ and keep them available to play in the national side.  It’s an open secret that a ban in Pakistan cricket is always temporary, that first gets changed to a fine and then eventually lifted for important fixtures or as a ‘marriage gift’. Be it old-timers Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Younus Khan or the young entrants like Umar Akmal, everyone in Pakistan cricket is free to ‘eat’ or ‘bite’ anything. The PCB takes care of the ‘digestion’.

Coming to India, many felt that the thrashing Indian ‘boys’ received in Zimbabwe is a sign of worse things to come. I would rather say it happened in the best interest of Indian cricket. Those who went gaga over a Naman Ojha, Umesh Yadav or Pankaj Singh now very well know the difference between ‘boys’ and ‘men’, with failures against a lowly Zimbabwe and an under-strength Sri Lankan outfit. In fact, it makes it much easier for the BCCI to set aside a pool of 25 for the upcoming World Cup at home.

Quite obviously, the only team benefiting in the Zimbabwe tri-series was Zimbabwe itself. With three wins in five games and an unbeaten record against India, they sent a message to the ICC that the Test arena beckons, once again. Provided the country sets things straight politically and the cricket board gets its act together, there is no stopping Zimbabwe getting back its Test status.

Then came the time to pick the teams for the all-important Asia Cup in Sri Lanka from June 15. While Pakistan and Sri Lanka picked a full-strength squad, an Indian team without Sachin looked incomplete, especially when it’s trying to bounce back from the failures in the T20 campaign in the Caribbean and the Zimbabwe tri-series. Sachin himself requested an extension of his rest period, but having played his last game a good 1-1/2 months back on April 25, I personally feel he could have opted to play. The BCCI too could have asked him to board the bus in quest for Asian supremacy.

There is no doubt that Sachin is the most valuable Indian asset for the upcoming World Cup and the team should learn to play without him now, but still his presence could have boosted the morale of the team, especially youngsters like Ashwin, Dinda, Jadeja and Tiwari. But the fact remains that he is not part of the team to Sri Lanka and as always, he is going to be sorely missed.

The other most notable omission from India’s Asia Cup squad is the southpaw Yuvraj Singh. Chief selector K. Srikkanth’s comment that fitness and fielding were given top consideration while selecting the team was a clear message for Yuvraj to get his body in order. He looked visibly heavy in the Caribbean with a lot more flab around his belly and got restricted in the field because of that, not forgetting his troublesome knee. Yuvraj is a match-winner but so was Vinod Kambli. I think that statement is enough to bring Yuvraj’s feet back on ground and I fully support selectors’ decision to drop him.

But the spotlight for the next month will surely be on the FIFA  World Cup in South Africa. It’s surprising that supporters of any other game – like I having an affair with cricket – get equally excited when it comes to the soccer World Cup. You can feel it in the air, unlike any other sporting event; I dare say not even the Olympics. That’s what makes it the most anticipated sporting event. So let’s hear the vuvuzela!

The cricket carnival moves from the trumpet celebrations in sticky Chennai to the hip-shakers in the Caribbean. The international camaraderie of the IPL is about to wear the gown of animosity as the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 kicks off in the West Indies in less than an hour from now.

The IPL is no doubt the second biggest T20 tournament after the World Cup and it’s only ironical that the highest run-getter of this year’s IPL – Sachin Tendulkar – will be sitting in his living room watching his comrades vie for top honors. It may be a boon for India’s opponents but is surely not a loss for India, as the team triumphed without Sachin in 2007. That the master opted not to play – despite constant coaxing – and give youngsters a chance only adds to his iconic stature.

The bookmakers rank India as the second favorite after Australia who are desperate to add the elusive trophy to Cricket Australia’s shimmering cabinet. West Indies are dangerous at home but much rests on Gayle alone, which makes them a very risky bet. Sri Lanka looks like having horses for courses, though New Zealand too is not short of pedigree if they can bring consistency to their batting. South Africa always had it in them but it’s the final hurdle that proves a bit too high to jump for the Proteas.

The English side is spruced up with power hitters like Lumb, Pietersen and Morgan which gives them a formidable look. Pakistan is dangerous as ever but it’s hard to tell how they would pan out, both on and off the field. Bangladesh is exciting as always but continues to be more a party-spoiler than anything else.

Must admit that the world is looking forward to see Afghanistan competing at the world level. If I am not wrong, it’s the first team event of this stature for them in any sport. So that does make them the ‘team of the minnows’ that also include Ireland and Zimbabwe.

After the unhappy climax of the IPL, I hope the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 puts up a show to remember.

When cricket’s most gentle man looked at the skies to thank God and his father yesterday, there was another set of eyes that watched him with a twinkle. It was none other than Sir Donald George Bradman who came to admire one of cricket’s greatest innings, exactly nine years after his soul departed on February 25, 2001.

Though it was a different brand of cricket than what Sir Don mastered, it left behind the Laras and the Pontings to christen Sachin Tendulkar as the new God of world cricket. By scoring a double century in ODIs, Sachin stamped his heir-apparent status to Sir Don’s legacy. After this, we can safely prefix Sir Don’s ‘greatest-batsman’ status with the word ‘arguably’.

Sachin is one of those dyed-in-the-wool cricketers who blossom more in their twilight. In Gwalior, Sachin tipped South Africa the wink in the second over itself when he first drove and then clipped Parnell for consecutive fours. Kallis threw the ball to every Tom, Dick and Harry who could bowl but Sachin was relentlessly in the zone. That he faced 147 balls – almost half of the overs – tells you how ably the strike was rotated by Karthik who faced 85 balls for his 79. He was keen as mustard to get his maiden ODI ton but sadly missed out.

Sachin’s destiny is penned in a manner where he is the first to reach most of the milestones. Probably that is the reason why he hasn’t made a triple hundred in Tests, but that’s not a complaint. If Nasser Hussain is to be believed, Sachin has now surpassed every name is the history of cricket. The former English captain said, “Better than Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting, the other two great players of my era. Better than Sir Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border. And I would even say better than Sir Don Bradman himself.”

Talking beyond the statistics and the stature of this massacre, it’s hard to recall any post-independence Indian who has handled the pressure and expectations as well as Sachin. Sara and Arjun not only inherit cricket from their father but also the feet-on-ground attitude that plays a big role in handling pressure and fame at the top. This characteristic of Sachin, coupled with his achievements, makes us doubt if there would be another Sachin Tendulkar, ever.