November 15, 2013

Indian cricket

The Tendulkar phenomenon

Suhas Marathe, a cricket statistician who kept the score in Sachin Tendulkar's first Test at the Wankhede Stadium in 1993, now suffers from a glaucoma in his right eye that has left him blind. Speaking to Clayton Murzello for Mid Day, Marathe says that despite his disability, his joy and love for cricket, and for Tendulkar, still hasn't disappeared.

Marathe (62) could watch television without discomfort till 1999, a period which coincided with the great Indian's peak. He does not seek sympathy. "When all my operations failed, I said to my wife Sucheta that I will accept my handicap and continue to enjoy life. I love cricket, philately and old Hindi music." "One should face reality and introspect. Remember, a white line on a black stone is clear as daylight." Today, he cannot watch Tendulkar's farewell, but will be in front of his television set well before start of play, and hear the commentators describe the key moments.

Ramachandra Guha, writing for BBC, explains why Tendulkar was so revered in India, and analyses the batsman's place in the game as one of the all-time greats.

Tendulkar exuded power and domination. He was a magnificent attacking batsman, who took the game to the bowlers. Although he was a little man, he stood up to the best fast bowlers of the day - South Africa's Allan Donald, Pakistan's Waqar Younis, West Indies's Curtly Ambrose, Australia's Glenn McGrath - hooking, cutting, and driving them with authority. Because he was a diminutive man, his conquest of these fearsome foreigners made Indians marvel even more at his achievements.

Matthew Engel, writing for Financial Times, while opining that Tendulkar wasn't the greatest cricketer of all time, believes that the batsman's consistency at the top, and ability to absorb the immense pressure he was subject to, cemented his place as a legend.

Yet, amid the clamour of India, he has been the still, small figure at the eye of the storm. Every time he batted, the weight of expectation was ludicrous. India, which is internationally competitive in no other major sport, placed all its hopes of glory on its cricket team and thus, for 24 years, on its best player: him. He remained forever imperturbable: not a word out of place, not a hair out of place, and only rarely a shot out of place. Building a big innings is always a feat of relaxed concentration: Tendulkar brought that mastery to his entire life.

Raja Sen, writing for the Mumbai Mirror, describes the action at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday when Tendulkar went out to bat.

The rumble grew with every second as he strode out, swinging his weapon belligerently, as if he fancied a spot of casual slaughter to go with tea time. And then began the glorious cacophony of support as the entire ground gasped and clamoured for him in mad, heady unison. With every ball he faced, the instinctive "Sa-Chin, Sa-Chinnn" yells got louder. Every spectator swayed in a sea of love and adrenaline.

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