Tag Archives: Sachin Tendulkar

Ten Things about Group Captain Sachin Tendulkar

Source: AFP

On September 3, 2010, Indian batting ace, Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the honorary rank of group captain by the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for his contribution to cricket. Instead of an honorary award, what if he really was a group captain in the IAF?

1.  Tendulkar will be the first airman to fly 200 sorties in one day. Everybody knew from the day he entered the Indian air force and started flying them planes, he was gonna be the one to break the 200 barrier. Some thought this day might never happen and have to live with the fact that a Pakistani group captain had the record for the most number of sorties in a day.

2. When Tendulkar enters the peak of his prowess as a true dog fight legend, his wingmen would be extremely terrible. They would be so inept that they can’t even do the one job that is asked of them — hold one end up with some fake firefight and pretend to shoot at the enemy here and there.

3. For the majority of his flying career, he would be saddled with hand me down jets from the previous era which malfunction constantly with failures at the most inopportune times. During an epic battle against an archenemy, he would get 136 kills over the skies of Chennai and leave the rest of the squadron to shoot down just 17 more, as his back engine was fouling up but alas, that wouldn’t happen!

4. In the “Battle of the Hero Cup”, when senior and more experienced fighter pilots like Devil Kap were dithering over whether they could deal the deciding blow, Young Tendulkar would volunteer to take control and launch in to a certain suicide mission, only to emerge victorious.

Continue reading

Sehwag – The Inimitable Genius

Way back in the early Oughts, Prem Panicker, used to have an online talk-chat show called “Panix Station” (before podcast was even part of the public parlance) where people could send questions in by email. The show’s producer would read the question and Prem would give his take on it. It has since been discontinued and Prem has moved on to bigger and better things.

During the entire life of that show, I had sent in one question/comment only. It went something like this: “I don’t know why people are cribbing so much about how Virender Sehwag bats. He is a free spirit and he brings that refreshing attitude to his batting. Sure, there will be times when he gets out in a silly looking manner, but the team management seems to be okay with it. They seem perfectly happy with the way he goes about it as more often than not, he pulls it off and puts the opposition bowlers under tremendous pressure. We, as fans, should quit quibbling about his batting style and enjoy it while it lasts.”

Picture source: topnews.in

If you had seen the way Virender got out in the 2nd test match against Sri Lanka, you would either be banging your head against a wall for he has thrown out an opportunity for a fourth century on trot, or just shrug the shoulder with a nod of the head, acknowledging, “That’s the way he bats.”  Loads of ink and acres of webspace have been used up in trying to describe this inimitable genius. Of course, there is more method to the seeming madness.

Batting, when performed correctly, is an absolute work of art. Especially in test match Cricket. Sehwag, with a bat in hand, distills this art form to its purest core – See ball, Hit ball. He has been quoted many times that he doesn’t like to play “boring cricket”. Does this mean he wants to score a boundary of every ball? Of course not. There is a big difference between purposeful batting that is full of intent and general savagery where the batsman goes after everything.

I was looking for opportunities to score runs wherever I could,” Sehwag said of what he was trying to do when, for the third time in the series, he faced short and wide deliveries with a square third man, a deep point and a sweeper-cover in place. “If fielders are there I can hit towards mid-off, midwicket or mid-on. Whatever reasons. Because I don’t want to, you know, play boring Test cricket.

An argument has been made that Sehwag gets “bored” when the fields get defensive and the bowler is pitching the ball two feet outside the off stump. I think that’s a pile of garbage. No “bored” batsman could score the mountains of runs that Sehwag scores if he were actually to get “bored”. Sehwag has the highest percentage of 150+ scores  of all batsmen with at least 10 test centuries to their name. All this does is point out the irrefutable fact that when he gets “in”, he kicks on to a very big score.  That is not a sign of a batsman that gets “bored”, is it? The bowling and fielding placements get boring, but Sehwag? I don’t think so.

In test cricket, Sehwag gives the bowler the respect he deserves, not because of the bowler’s pedigree or his reputation, but how he is performing that day, that over. He plays out maidens, with rock solid front food defense but the moment he senses any weakness in the bowler, he launches in to him. When bowling to Sehwag, the bowler’s margins for error, diminish rather rapidly to the point of being almost non-existent. If there is a slight mistake in the length or the line, Sehwag duly cashes in with his lightning bat speed, with a typical flay over point. This undoubtedly has a significant effect on bowlers who are not made of sterner stuff.

Imagine you are Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanga Welegedara (Now, say that three times fast and all your wishes will be granted!). A decent bowler with moderate talent and medium pace. You are gently trundling along in your run up and you are about to deliver to Sehwag. In the back of your mind, you know you have to be inch perfect. A little bit towards the middle, he will flick you over squareleg. A little wide, you will be slashed over point. Too full, you will be driven down the ground. Too short, pulled over  midwicket. This is where Sehwag wins more than half his battles. The bowlers need to be perfect, or they are going to be carted for runs. Quite easily.

In 2003-04 test series in Australia, Sehwag was on the threshold of doing something quite unique in the 3rd test of the series at the MCG – a ravishing double hundred on the opening day of the test – and he was only a shot away at 195. He had just hit the part-time crock of Katich for a six over long on. While trying to repeat the same stroke to get to 201, he holed out. The Indian score was 311-3 and India were bowled out for 366 soon after.

Two things grab your attention: One, The Australian bowlers, including Brett Lee, in home conditions, were bowling pretty well as they got the other 9 wickets for 171 runs and Two, Sehwag made a mockery of that bowling and the conditions. He owned them and tried to bat his way to 200 the only way he knows and in the process he got out, and the rest folded. This has happened a few times where the batting conditions look easy and the bowling benign, when Sehwag is still in, and the rest of the Indian batting just folds up after he is out. Perhaps, they are induced in to a false sense of confidence by the ease with which Sehwag has been dealing.

As a man who had the front row seat to that epic inning at the MCG (and many others during their time together at Ranji trophy matches), I asked former Indian opener Aakash Chopra about this on Twitter and he responded:

Absolutely…he does make it look so simple. The trick is not to believe it.

If this isn’t the sign of a genius, I don’t know what is. He plays with such ease that can only come from the clarity of the mind. There are millions of fans of Indian cricket who will swear by their allegiance for and devotion to Sachin Tendulkar, for the pure joy he has brought to the fans and his unquestionable influence on all batting records. But if you ask them for an honest answer as to who the key to an Indian victory is, the answer will have to be “Virender Sehwag”. In the days following the dastardly terrorist attacks in Mumbai, England agreed to come back and play the test matches in India. The first match was in Chennai and England set an unlikely 387 for India to chase in the 4th innings. Sehwag launched an assault on the English bowling that sunny afternoon at the Chepauk stadium by scoring a blistering 83 of just 66 balls that left a manageable 256 to get on the fifth day which Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh did with aplomb.

One of my friends put this up on his facebook page and I don’t think I can say it any better.

They can debate about the best batsman in the world all they want but there’s no other delight for the fans and no other nemesis for the opposition in cricket today than Sehwag.

A slightly modified version of this article is published at World Cricket Watch. My debut article there. Support WCW. (They have highlights videos of all matches).

FaceTweet it!

Shit gets wickets

While playing for my university in the U.S., one of my mates, James who is an Aussie, after almost every time he would pick up a wicket, would say, “Shit gets wickets”. That was a brutally honest opinion from him about his own bowling. Although he was of wiry build, he could generate a decent amount of pace with his nippy action but his ideas about line and length – the fundamental tools for a good bowler – were non-existent. Well, he had some ideas about them but never could carry it out on a cricket pitch. Therefore, in spite of James’ best efforts, sometimes, the batsmen would gift wrap their wickets.

Continue reading

What does India need to do?

The Cricket World Cup to be hosted jointly in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is only a little more than 7 months away. Currently, Indian team is involved in a pointless Asia cup final playing Sri Lanka, yet again. They will also be playing a three-team tournament featuring New Zealand and you guessed it.. Sri Lanka. There is the tour of South Arica towards the end of 2010 and a possible trip from Australia for a short test series.

This surely is Sachin Tendulkar’s final hurrah and his last chance to collect some hardware before he says bye bye to the limited overs format of the game and solely focuses on Test matches and perhaps IPL. Some Indian players have already mentioned that they want to win this one for Sachin.

Playing in the sub-continent certainly gives the Indian batsmen an advantage but then, it will make the bowling unit look, to put it mildly, ordinary. Of course, playing at home brings along with it a whole new set of pressures.

What do you think? What are the things that India need to get in order for a successful run at the World cup 2011? In terms of batting line up, team selection, bowlers, strategies etc. Chime in.

Who’s Next?

*This column is cross-posted at my column in CricAges*

If for one fleeting moment, we can push the hullabaloo from India’ disappointing T20 world cup campaign and the debacle of the second unit in Zimbabwe aside, we can actually see a team that is sitting atop the world Test rankings. The long, winding and arduous climb to the top has been a product in the making for almost a decade, riding on the backs of some of the finest cricketers the game has ever seen: Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman. Two of the five have already said sayonara to the international game and the others, being on the wrong side of 35, are not far away either.

Continue reading

The Ewing Theory in Cricket

**This article has been cross-posted at The Big Tip**

Back in 1998 or thereabout, when ESPN, The worldwide leader in sports, was launching its website, it recruited sports writers and bloggers to enrich the website’s content. While doing so, it secured the services of a sports blogger Bill Simmons who called himself “The Boston Sports Guy“. Bill (or the sportsguy as he is known now) wrote and interpreted the sports scene in an overwhelmingly Boston sports fan point of view. I have been a big fan of his writing and to this day, still read his columns on ESPN.

He had many running features in his columns, such as “The Reggie Cleveland All Stars” (For athletes with black sounding names but are actually white), “Diane Lane All Stars” (For ladies who seem to get hotter as they get older, named for the Hollywood Actress Diane Lane), Tyson Zone (Nothing a person does, no matter how outrageous it is, does not surpise you!) etc. He also had a hypothesized many theories including the one he calls as, and my favorite, “The Ewing Theory“.

Continue reading

Autobiographies

Recently I came in possession of a few books on cricket, including a biography and an autobiography. That made me think what the titles would be if some of the Indian cricketers decided to put their lives on print.

Irfan Pathan – I used to be a fast bowler

Ajit Agarkar – Get your ducks in a row

Sreesanth – Show the other cheek, said Jesus

Yuvraj Singh – Mom’s the word

Ashish Nehra – What happens in St. Lucia, stays in St. Lucia

Harbhajan SinghMaa ki See, Maa ki do

Sachin TendulkarGod promise, I didn’t hear it

Sourav Ganguly – Striptease

Rahul Dravid – The Bridesmaid’s tale

MS Dhoni – At the end of the day

Zaheer Khan – Return of the dead

Virender Sehwag – I’m a better clone than Dolly the sheep

Send in your suggestions for VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Munaf Patel et al. Its open season, folks.

Like This!

He is like this only

Sachin Tendulkar was in Pune for laying the foundation stone for a hospital. Answering a query on whether the parties should be blamed for India’s debacle at the T20 World Cup, he said:

While the issue of IPL parties being a reason for the poor performance of the team is debatable, we all know that as players we need to be more responsible and get our priorities right… I cannot speak for others…I didn’t attend any of those parties, because for me it was more about focusing on the next game. Maybe that’s how I am.

Source: IndiaExpress.com

Like This!

All Time Test XI – India

Cricinfo has been running a feature called All Time XI where various analysts, former players, cricket historians and writers form a panel that selects all time XI. So far the All time XI have been rolled out for Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England and South Africa. The process is now on for Pakistan. There is no rhyme or reason for the order they have chosen the countries; Its not alphabetical order or a chronological order by which these countries started playing test cricket. Perhaps, they are saving India for last, as that might be the one that gets cricinfo the maximum readership and debate? Not so much on this blog. We are going straight for it.

A lot of the final XI are typically legends of the game and will be a direct write in on anybody’s list. So, let’s get those out of the way and we can focus on the ones that need debate.

Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble.  (We can’t have any disagreements on these, gentlemen. They have served Indian cricket for a  long time and admirably. They all feature near the top of the lists of all time run-getters/wicket takers.)

Continue reading

Captain Crucifixion

India have been unceremoniously bounced out of yet another Twenty20 world cup and there is a lot of blame going around and most of it is gonna be at the feet of India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Being the captain of Indian cricket team is one of the hardest jobs in sports, as the Indian media and fans deal only in extremes – in praise and in condemnation.The demands of the job have consumed some of the best players the game as seen, from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar, and from Kapil Dev to Rahul Dravid. Now, MS Dhoni is getting a taste of it.

When Dhoni took over the captaincy of the Twenty20 team in 2007, because the senior players had made themselves unavailable, he led a team of mostly young, still fresh on the international scene players to a world cup win. Within a year of that victory, he had become the captain of the Indian team in all 3 formats of the game and has done a wonderful job of it. He has beaten Australia in a test series, in a ODI tournament (in Australia), drew a test series against South Africa and beaten the daylights out of a Sri Lanka team etc., and all this while being named the best ODI cricketer in the world. He has not let the burden of captaincy affect his form with the bat or the gloves, unlike say, Tendulkar. Continue reading