It has been a little over a week since India did the unthinkable – beat Australia in Australia, with one final spare! In an answer to this great feat, the media has gone berserk over the One-Day team, which is quite young with only one man above 30 years. And it is this man who played one of the finest innings in his career to take India to victory in the first finals and set up the other final with a brilliant score of 91.
Since January 2007, this ‘little master’ had not been able to master the 100 mark till the first final of the CB series. This time though, he had scored 13 half centuries in 36 innings out of which six scores were in the 90s! If ever India needed him to break that jinx, it was on Sunday, the day of the first final. Our home-grown genius didn’t disappoint.
Even though the bowlers had done a good job in the first half of the game, it was Tendulkar’s effort (117 runs not out at a strike rate of close to 100) with the young Rohit Sharma (66 runs) by his side, which took the game out of Australia’s reach completely. Furthermore, in the second final, his 91 runs set the match up as far as the Indians were concerned and this time the bowlers wrapped it up. The whole team played exceptionally well and a few of the youngsters did come off age, while Ishant Sharma was definitely the find of the tour. However, what really warmed my heart was the way Tendulkar played in the company of people who were still toddlers when he had started his cricketing journey. His has been a journey marked by a lot of ups and downs. The downs, however, have been well highlighted by his critics (a little too well, rather). In a not too distant past, when Tendulkar was recovering from a spate of injuries, the very people who once worshipped him started questioning his performance, his dedication. There was this whole episode of Indians booing this great man. He never replied through his words; rather let his bat speak on the field. In a country where every single person fancies himself to be cricket analyst (I, too, am guilty), they had almost decided his retirement for him. All I want to tell them now is- Keep up your doubts. This drives this little great man, I bet. Also, the cricket gurus had their own take on this subject. A certain Ian Chapel had said that Tendulkar was playing for all the wrong reasons, soon after, his brother was sacked as the coach of our national side. The timing does seem a bit dubious, but I give him the benefit of the doubt. My opinion: ‘Please do not try to finish what your brother had started- destroying the Indian team!’
Now that Tendulkar has performed beautifully throughout the Test Series and decimated the Australians in the one day finals, some of the critics would want to eat their words. And then there were the Atul Wassans. When he said that in his opinion Tendulkar should retire, all I could think of was, ‘Who are you? People who follow cricket but aren’t exactly fanatics (like me), hardly know you! And then there was Buchanan who was talking about how Tendulkar’s reflexes had gone slow with age. I hope the shot he hit off Brett Lee in the 2nd test match over the slips should be evidence enough against his claims. This man that we are talking about has scored 42 hundreds in 416 innings at an average of over 42 in one day internationals. And when it comes to test matches he averages around 57, has 39 centuries fifty score above 50! So give him some credit. The one argument that always comes up against him is that he hasn’t played enough match winning innings. Well let me put it this way, every century is a match winning innings and if it isn’t then you definitely can’t put the blame on the man who scored the century! For a man who played half his career for a team which won if he scored, and lost if he didn’t, I think he deserves a little more credit in this regard. After all, carrying the expectations of a billion Indians every time one steps out to bat isn’t a very easy job to do. Anyone who says Tendulkar is a human and so falters at times, may be right. But for me he is God because even God faltered…in creating us, didn’t he? Purav Goswami
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fatmandy/1966762773/]