December 21, 2010

Tendulkar’s 50th century comes three Tests too late


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

I don’t think there was any real cause to celebrate when Sachin Tendulkar brought up his 50th Test century at the Super Sport Park in Centurion on December 19 except that he had reached the landmark.

India needed much more than just a token hundred from Tendulkar to change the course of the game in which they had been humiliated on the first three days. The damage control exercise demanded at least a double century from him but as we have witnessed so many times he failed to deliver.

What’s more important a personal landmark or glory for the team? Cricket is a team game therefore the greatness should be measured by the contribution to the cause of the team rather than the loads of runs or the heaps of wicket that don’t serve the purpose.

Getting to 50 centuries in Test cricket is no doubt a huge accomplishment. Nobody has done it before and neither anyone might be able to do it in the near future.

With the number of Test matches getting reduced with the advent of the popularity of the limited overs game it seems very unlikely that anybody would be able to get an opportunity to play so many Test matches in the years to come.

Tendulkar has been around for over two decades, having made his Test debut in November 1989. With the frequency of limited overs games on the rise the career span of cricketers is shrinking and it could be next to impossible for a starter to think in terms of surviving there in the international arena for so long.

Tendulkar’s record of the highest number of Test centuries is certain to stand for a very long time. The kind of form he has been in during the current year he can still get many more hundreds unless of course the external factors come into play.

Talking about the outside factors wasn’t it a pity that Tendulkar wasn’t able to reach this milestone in India when he had as many as three Test matches to do it against the struggling New Zealanders.

Well not many people would disgaree that Tendulkar could have got a hundred against if he so desired even by batting left-handed because the New Zealand bowling attack had no penetrative skills on the surfaces where Harbhajan Singh was able to play long innings without the slightest of discomfort.

Tendulkar was in the middle of a purple patch and there was no team in the world that could have stopped him from reaching a century in those conditions. His soft dismissals were totally against the run of play.

He batted with in his usual fluent style in both the innings of the Centurion Test but neither of his knock was big enough to take the fight to the South African camp.

It’s amazing that he made no effort to avoid an innings defeat on the final morning. His tactics of exposing the tail-enders to the genuinely quick bowlers was mind boggling to say the least. He was expected to play both ends which he didn’t for reasons best known to him.


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