September 6, 2012

Indian cricket

The Tendulkar conundrum

Akhila Ranganna

Following a poor Test series against New Zealand, questions are being asked about Sachin Tendulkar's form. Suresh Menon writes that while Tendulkar has slowed down, only those who simplify the game into an exercise in painting-by-numbers (a speciality of Indian television channels) can believe that all batsmanship can be reduced to such packages as "if you are bowled often, you are old and must quit". More from bbc.co.uk.

His dismissal in the first innings at Bangalore resulted from indecisiveness. It wasn't the wrong choice of shot so much as that split second of inactivity while he made up his mind.In the second innings, he twice played the square drive against Tim Southee that suggested he had overcome his self doubt.

Yet, unusually for a man who once cut out all drives on the off side while making a double century in Australia, Tendulkar attempted to play across the line.This had nothing to do with his age or fitness - it was the dogged but dangerous attempt by a proud man to slaughter the demons within, and to be seen to be slaughtering them.

Nirmal Shekar, in the Hindu, says we must be cautious when writing Tendulkar off, and acknowledge that the man himself knows that he is fallible.

Sporting mortality might appear alluringly predictable, but we have to be rather cautious when making sweeping statements in the rarest of rare cases — the ones involving men such as Sampras, Sachin, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods ... Of course, experts who have played the game at the highest levels deserve to be heard, but you cannot conduct a nation-wide referendum on the question whether it is time for Sachin to quit. Nor, for that matter, can we simply pick someone from Central Casting to take on Sachin’s role in the Indian team overnight. For, this is a man who has dominated the Indian sporting landscape for almost a quarter of a century — a rare and luminous talent who has withstood years and years of hype-laden canon-making and undeserved criticism alike to achieve feats of surpassing greatness.

Presenting a counter-view, Sandeep Bamzai in the Daily Mail writes that after the recent misery against the Kiwis, Tendulkar needs to introspect, ask himself the question: Is there more to do? Should he expose technical ineptitude and leaden foot work or should he walk away into the sunset?

Nobody should tell you when to go, the inner voice should show you the path. We want to remember you just the way you were - sublime being held up as a neon sign in our faces. This struggle is for ordinary mortals. Call it Mr Tendulkar, call it now.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan, in his blog, says he disagrees with the India’s-batting-is-too-fragile-to-lose-Tendulkar-at-this-stage theory.

India lost eight Tests in a row with Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar in the playing XI. Most of these matches weren’t even close. I don’t think a middle order that reads Pujara, Kohli, Badrinath and Raina is going to do any worse. Sure they may struggle abroad (especially in South Africa) but I don’t think we can shield these players for much longer. These are the batsmen expected to carry the batting for the next five to ten years and the earlier they are thrown at the deep end, the better. India already missed a chance to test Rohit Sharma in Australia and may pay a heavy price if a young middle order is forever treated like babies who are not ready for hard challenges.

Amul, one of India's largest food products marketing organisation, gets into the act with some advice for Tendulkar.

And it's 'Sachingate' time according to a cartoon in the Hindu.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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