By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Sachin Tendulkar may have taken more time and matches than anticipated while surpassing the tally of Brian Lara to become the leading run-getter in Test cricket but the manner in which he has batted in the home series against Australia suggests that this genius will continue ruling the game for a few more years.
It’s so fascinating to note that he still has the same hunger for runs as the one he had at the time of starting what has a already become a fabulous career around a couple of decades. It’s never easy to stay motivated after all the major records have landed in your lap.
Talking about records Tendulkar richly deserves each of them having come his way. After having proven his mettle in every corner of the world and against the toughest of oppositions, he is now the worthy record holder of the highest number of runs and centuries in One-day Internationals as well as Test cricket.
His records in ODIs are expected to stand for a very long time but the same cannot be said with conviction about his two major records in Tests. The Australian skipper, Ricky Ponting, is not very far behind and by the look of things he is unlikely to be out of the game in the near future.
Tendulkar has no immediate plans for retirement either. But unlike Ponting, he has been laid low by injuries once too often in the recent past. If the Indian maestro can take care of his fitness for a couple of years Ponting may find it difficult to overtake his record of centuries or runs.
Since both Australia as well as India keep playing Test cricket more frequently than any other nation we have a good contest in sight between these two of the greatest batsmen of the modern generation.
Tendulkar, having become the first batsman in the history of the game to cross the barrier of 12,000 Test runs, looks good for at least 3,000 more runs, fitness permitting. It may not be easy for Ponting to chase something around 15,000 because the Australians won’t let him play only for the record if his magical form eludes him any time.
Tendulkar must also be aware of the fact that Ponting has the capability to overtake him sooner than later if he doesn’t set a stiffer challenge for the Australian captain who has now even scored heavily on the Indian grounds where he had failed miserably in the past.
The Ponting threat could be one of the reasons of Tendulkar’s not thinking in terms of hanging his boots yet.
Well there is no valid reason for Tendulkar to quit any form of the game at this stage. He has been scoring runs of late as well. He may have cut his attacking instincts with the passage of time but the passion to succeed in every outing keeps him going. India possesses enough attacking batsmen in their ranks to let him play his technically correct game.
November 3, 2008
By Syed Khalid Mahmood