Thursday, 24 January, 2008

Touch the Sky

Does it really matter how a batsman chooses to reach the coveted three figure mark, whether with a whacky six or an elegant boundary or a simple nudge for a single? Ideally, it should not. But when the batsman in question answers by the name Sachin Tendulkar, it certainly does, for, his nervous nineties - even if he succeeded in converting a few of them into hundreds - have been a topic of national debate for some time now.

It also provides an insight into the mind of this great batsman. When was the last time before Adelaide that Sachin reached his century with a boundary?

Rewind, as I often do, to the third test of the 2002 series against England. Venue: Headingley. Conditions: Hostile for batting. Dravid and Bangar had weathered the early seam and swing conditions to steady the Indian ship. The stage was ideally set for Tendulkar to score a big hundred. He eventually did and in style too. When he flicked the first ball of an Ashley Giles’ 23rd over through mid wicket for a boundary, he also passed Sir Don’s record of 29 hundreds.

But between that innings at Leeds and the one in home town of Sir Don, today, Sachin treated bowlers with same respect that Sunil Gavaskar accorded to the likes of M/s Marshall, Roberts, Imran, Lillee and co. Nothing wrong, except that those bowling to Sachin in his nervous nineties included Shakib Al Hasan, Shabbir Ahmad, Simon Katich, Tapash Baisya amongst others!

They say, batsmen are at the peak of their prowess, between the age 28 and 32. By this time the youthful exuberance has given way to maturity and renunciation of a seemingly tempting delivery is stronger than before. The legs are still young enough to hold out more than an entire day on the field.

Brian Lara, Mathew Hayden and to an extent Inzamam have however shown a definite upward swing in the form in their mid thirties, and even past it. Hopefully Sachin Tendulkar is entering a similar phase in his career. He has already blasted away the cobwebs that seemed to clutter both his mind and his batting. Now is the ideal time for a ‘liberated’ Sachin to fly and touch the sky.

It would be great if he does it tomorrow, the second day at Adelaide. Despite winning the crucial toss and putting 300 runs on the board, I believe, India is in a spot of bother. Past records have shown that no total is big enough to defend on this ground. Pathan’s promotion as an opener and his subsequent failure has only complicated the matters. I pray they do not put up a different opening combination in the second innings.

Sachin needs to play a Dravidesque innings, not in intent, but in the number of runs scored and one of the bowlers need to bowl an Agarkarish spell if India has to overcome its less than satisfying performance on day one.

The second day could well decide the fate of India’s march towards leveling this series.


Soulberry said...

Fine article CG. I enjoy reading yor blog.

Sachin's innings today reveals why he is such a master.

Was there pressure on him? I think plenty...his team depended on him entirely after the bold plan was coming unstuck. There might also have been a small element of personal pressure too because of his recent tryst with 90's, but I doubt that. brett Lee was bowling well, Mitch was good in patches...and he had already refused to give his wicket to Hogg. His team needed runs and staying....he did both and denied Lee, Mitch and Hogg.

More so, with his innings, he kept snatching back the psychological initiative Australia was periodically reeling in through wickets at the other end. So much so that I'm sure Australia aren't as happy as they'd like to be this evening.

He saved the Plan....he's the master of the plan, today and tomorrow.

Pathan will not let a test go without having his say one way or the other...of that I'm certain.

Cricket Guru said...

Thanks SB.
And sorry for the short reply.

I may not be able to post anything new for next 3/4 days, as I will be out of town.

I hope by the time I return, India would have completed a famous victory.

Happy Republic Day to all Indians and a Happy Australia day to all Aussies.

scorpicity said...

Brilliant century... good that he is now turning the heat.

King Cricket said...

Going even further back to the days before fitness was invented, Graham Gooch went from mediocre to sublime as he waded deep into his thirties.

Soulberry said...

No worry CG, I too am caught up with things this side and will miss live viewing of the match.

India have done the first part of their job...Matthew Hayden is doing his job for Australia. India need a better effort in their second part.

And yes, King Cricket, Goochie was a transformed cricketer as he went on. He kept improving...such cricketers show us the value of experience and continuous it more than compensates for waning physical abilities.

Cricket Guru said...

Hi guys,

Thanks all for your comments. I will reply to them in detail in the evening.

I found just about enough time to sqeeze in a new post.

Cricket Guru said...

Welcome to CaAT, Kingcricket.

No Indian who watched Goochie bat in the late 80s would ever forget him. He 'swept' India out of the 1987 WC and then had them chase the leather for better part of the 1990 Lords test.

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