November 23, 2010

Tendulkar’s yet another super failure


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

There’s indeed something special about a man named Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. When he’s good he’s better than the best. Conversely when he’s not good he fares worse than the worst.

When he’s on song he appears to be the greatest-ever batsman but when he’s not in a mood to be among the runs he looks uglier than the traditional tail-enders who used to be there just for fun.

He has proved it on innumerable occasions that he’s second to none when it comes to taking on the greatest of bowlers. But the same man remains vulnerable to the friendliest of bowlers who are themselves scared of having a go at him.

Isn’t it strange that he’s equal to the task more often than not while coming to task with the champion bowlers and yet behaves like a novice when confronting the lesser mortals? This has been his story for a very long time now.

Statistically he’s the best batsman to be produced by his country. But how many matches has he won for India during an international career having crossed two decades now. He has scored in heaps but his performance in helping his team has not been as phenomenal.

Primarily because of his records, that are unlikely to be broken in the foreseeable future, he’s compared to the likes of the incomparable Don Bradman. I wonder if the Australian genius had so many failures as Tendulkar and that too against inconsequential bowling attacks.

Tendulkar has had this chronic problem of failing against the weaker opponents that do raise many questions just like he’s often found wanting when India need him to fire. The matter gets closed because of the human factor.

He’s no doubt a human being and it’s indeed next to impossible to score consistently over a long period of time. But what fails to satisfy many people is the bitter reality of his repeated failures against weak opponents with the just concluded home series against New Zealand being the latest example.

The form in which Tendulkar was in for the past many months, having blasted centuries after centuries at his sweet will it had seemed very likely that he would complete his half-century of centuries in the very first outing against the Black Caps, possessing a toothless bowling attack.

He was expected to do it in the first Test at Ahmedabad. Centuries by Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid had demoralized the New Zealanders on the opening day and the stage was set for Tendulkar to accomplish the feat without any fuss the following day.

The big crowd having gathered there in anticipation of the historic moment was disappointed when he got himself out against the run of play on the second morning. He got the opportunity to make up but he let it go again in the second innings. Then it was the turn of the holiday crowd at Hyderabad to watch in dismay yet another Tendulkar failure in the second Test.

Came the third and final Test and Tendulkar was in complete control before throwing it away once more. The whole series went by and he couldn’t score even a single century despite being in what people though was the form of his lifetime.

Tendulkar continued his love with the debutants. After having gifted his wicket to Ujesh Ranchod, Ruwan Kalpage, Mark Ealham, Neil Johnson, Jacob Oram, Monty Panesar, Cameron White, Peter Siddle and Peter George he let Andy Mc Kay celebrate at Nagpur.

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India finally in top gear at Nagpur to control damage


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Not surprisingly India performed the damage control act by winning the third and final Test against New Zealand at Nagpur after having given below par performance in the previous two Tests to keep the series alive.

There was always an element of ‘shock’ as well as ‘suspicion’ over the fate of the previous two Tests in which the hosts had looked like obliging the Black Caps with draws.

Obviously the New Zealanders were not the only ones ‘obliged’ with the unlikely result of the first couple of Test matches at Ahmedabad and Hyderabad where the hosts were reluctant to emerge victorious.

As we saw over three days and a bit at Nagpur the Black Caps had neither the firepower nor the resources to come to terms with the mighty Indian side, that has been flying high for the past couple of years.

India had to play below par or under-perform in those games to let New Zealand, fresh from a bashing in Bangladesh, come close because there was a huge gulf between the two teams and a draw was as good as a massive win for the visitors.

New Zealand would not have dreamt of drawing the first two Tests in India but courtesy some rather familiar ‘unseen’ factors the unlikeliest of results were witnessed in those games.

India didn’t seem to have the plan to repeat Ahmedabad and Hyderabad at Nagpur and the entire world saw what has happened there. Even the absence of their champion fast bowler, Zaheer Khan, didn’t make a difference.

India could have lost quite a few ranking points even at being top of the ladder if they let New Zealand draw at Nagpur too. I think this could have been the most likely factor that prompted the hosts to play the game the way they should have played in the last two Tests as well.

India won the third Test by a margin of an innings and 198 runs. They could have easily registered innings victories in the last two Tests as well, had they desired so.

The inexperienced New Zealand side was at their mercy from day one of the series. There could not have been a better opportunity to whitewash the Black Caps who had come to India with no hopes of challenging the home side.

As someone had remarked at the start of the series it was to be a mismatch. It should have been that way throughout the series but the Indians, not unexpectedly, chose to do things that looked ‘strange’ to the masses only.

Those having followed and covered India’s matches over the years did know that there would be some drama during the New Zealand which the home side was not going to be interested in winning as convincingly as was being anticipated.

Not many experts would disagree that India could have blasted New Zealand inside three days in each of the three Tests. That would not have only enthralled the spectators but also helped in preparing for the upcoming tougher assignments with greater confidence. They would have certainly been in a better frame of mind having done it three times rather than once.

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