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Tendulkar's irresistible second coming

Over the last three years he has, quite magically, turned back the clock, displaying the intensity, hunger and sheer genius that many thought had been lost forever

S Rajesh

February 26, 2010

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Sachin Tendulkar brings up yet another hundred, 2nd ODI, Gwalior, February 24, 2010
Sachin Tendulkar: at the top of his game © Getty Images
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The last 34 months have been quite extraordinary for Sachin Tendulkar. In the couple of years preceding them, there had been serious questions asked about his form, his reflexes, and his appetite for the game. There was the acknowledgement, with more than a tinge of sadness, that Tendulkar's mind and body were inevitably giving in to years of constant wear and tear, and that the kind of innings we witnessed during his glory days would only rarely, if ever, be repeated.

How wrong we were. Quite magically Tendulkar has turned back the clock, displaying the intensity and hunger many thought had been lost forever. The result has been a stunning sequence of scores: 10 centuries in the last 12 months in international cricket, including three of his four highest ODI hundreds, and the first double-century in 2962 one-day internationals. His last eight innings in all international cricket read as follows: 105*, 16, 143, 7, 100, 106, 4, 200*. Among other things, it shows his all-consuming desire to convert his starts - every time he has topped 20, he has gone on to a century.

The table below shows just how incredible his revival has been. In 14 Tests from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2006, he scored one hundred from 22 innings, and the average had dropped to less than 34. His ODI form was equally disappointing during this period: an average similar to his Test number, and a strike rate of less than 80.

Since the 2007 World Cup, though, the numbers present a far more cheerful picture: in 58 ODIs the average has zoomed past 50, with the strike rate touching 90. His Test form has been equally delightful - an average of almost 60, with 12 centuries from 34 matches.

Tendulkar's slump and his revival
Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Tests - Jan 2005 to Dec 2006 14 711 33.85 47.14 1/ 4
Tests - May 2007 onwards 31 2779 59.12 56.76 12/ 11
ODIs - Jan 2005 to Dec 2006 32 1040 35.86 77.15 3/ 5
ODIs - May 2007 onwards 58 2751 51.90 89.20 5/ 16

Since the end of the 2007 World Cup, Tendulkar is one of only three batsmen to average more than 50 in ODIs; MS Dhoni and Michael Hussey are the others. Combining the average with a strike rate of 89.20, Tendulkar's ODI batting index (average multiplied by runs per ball) is 46.29, with only Virender Sehwag and Dhoni having a better index.

Best ODI batsmen since April 29, 2007 (Qual: 1500 runs)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate Ave x SR/100 100/ 50s
Virender Sehwag 51 2094 42.73 124.71 53.29 4/ 11
MS Dhoni 92 3424 57.06 85.45 48.76 5/ 23
Sachin Tendulkar 58 2751 51.90 89.20 46.29 5/ 16
Chris Gayle 42 1560 45.88 97.07 44.54 4/ 9
Suresh Raina 53 1553 45.67 97.18 44.38 3/ 12
Michael Hussey 63 2112 50.28 86.13 43.31 0/ 18
AB de Villiers 54 1941 46.21 88.63 40.96 4/ 12
Shane Watson 38 1571 46.20 86.93 40.16 4/ 7

Tendulkar's Test average puts him in sixth place in a list dominated by Sri Lankans and Indians. Three Indian batsmen have a higher average than his, which indicates how good the going has been for India during this period. And while plenty has been written about Gambhir, Sehwag and Tendulkar, the performances of VVS Laxman have gone relatively unnoticed, even though he averages a touch higher than Tendulkar.

Best Test batsmen since April 29, 2007 (Qual: 2000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Mahela Jayawardene 25 2831 72.58 11/ 6
Kumar Sangakkara 24 2485 67.16 9/ 10
Gautam Gambhir 18 2114 66.06 8/ 8
Virender Sehwag 24 2536 61.85 7/ 9
VVS Laxman 30 2258 59.42 5/ 16
Sachin Tendulkar 31 2779 59.12 12/ 11
Hashim Amla 30 2645 58.77 9/ 12
Michael Clarke 31 2604 56.60 9/ 12

Even more than the averages, what's been stunning is the rate at which Tendulkar has been adding to his century tally. Not so long ago, Ricky Ponting was closing in on Tendulkar's mark, especially in Tests. However, Tendulkar has opened up a handy lead once again, scoring six Test centuries in the last year even as Ponting's form has dipped. The gap between their Test hundreds is now eight, while the overall difference is an unbridgeable 25.

Since that 2007 World Cup, Tendulkar has scored a century every 6.53 innings (combining all international cricket). Only Thilan Samaraweera, with six Test centuries in 32 innings and two ODI hundreds in 15, has a better rate. Tendulkar's Test rate of 4.50 innings per hundred has been bettered by just three batsmen during this period (among those with at least six Test hundreds): Mahela Jayawardene (3.82; 11 hundreds in 42 innings), Gambhir (4.25; eight in 34) and Kumar Sangakkara (4.44; nine in 40).

Best innings-per-100 ratios in all international cricket since April 29, 2007 (Qual: 8 centuries in all international matches)
Batsman Innings Hundreds Inngs per 100 Tests - Inngs per 100 ODIs - Inngs per 100
Thilan Samaraweera 47 8 5.88 5.33 7.50
Sachin Tendulkar 111 17 6.53 4.50 11.40
Hashim Amla 74 10 7.40 5.56 22.00
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 82 11 7.45 5.29 7.75
Tillakaratne Dilshan 103 12 8.58 4.57 10.20
Jacques Kallis 97 11 8.82 4.90 40.00
Gautam Gambhir 125 14 8.93 4.25 12.17
Graeme Smith 99 11 9.00 5.44 17.50

So impressive has Tendulkar's run been recently that it's been suggested this is his best streak ever. It isn't, but it's very close to his best. In both ODIs and Tests he has had at least a couple of such passages when he was unstoppable. Between January 1998 and December 1999, he averaged more than 55 at a strike rate of nearly 100; that was the period when he scored those two incredible centuries against Australia in Sharjah, which remain among his best ODI innings. Again, between 2001 and 2003, he had similar stats. Both these passages included the World Cup, in England in 1999 and in South Africa in 2003.

In Tests, the whole period from the beginning of 1997 to the end of 2002 was exceptional. Breaking it up into two passages, so that the number of matches is similar to the current period, it's clear that the 1997 to 1999 phase was his best, with 12 centuries in 27 Tests, bookended by outstanding hundreds in Cape Town and Melbourne. The three years immediately after that were pretty good too, with an average of almost 60, including nine centuries in 32 Tests.

Other golden runs in Tendulkar's career
Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
ODIs - Jan 1998 to Dec 1999 56 2737 55.85 97.57 12/ 8
ODIs - Jan 2001 to Dec 2003 58 2786 59.27 88.64 9/ 14
Tests - Jan 1997 to Dec 1999 27 2735 68.37 57.51 12/ 8
Tests - Jan 2000 to Dec 2002 32 2970 59.40 56.28 9/ 12

Tendulkar's revival isn't dissimilar to Brian Lara's stunning run in his last four years in international cricket. (Though this isn't to suggest Tendulkar will quit international cricket anytime soon.) After 2003, Lara averaged 60 in 41 Tests, with 16 centuries, including hundreds in two of his last three Tests. Clive Lloyd's last 32 Tests were equally productive, fetching him 2342 runs at 61.63, well above his career average of 46.67. Steve Waugh and Graham Thorpe went out with a bang too, but these players have been exceptions. If Tendulkar continues in similar vein over the next few years, he'll join that select group as well. More than that, it'll mean we'll be in for several more special innings of the kind that he has conjured up over the last three years.

Players who shone in their last few Tests
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Brian Lara (2003 onwards) 41 4381 60.01 16/ 11
Steve Waugh (Oct 2002 onwards) 20 1327 60.31 5/ 6
Clive Lloyd (1981 onwards) 32 2342 61.63 6/ 16
Graham Thorpe (2004 onwards) 17 1192 62.73 4/ 6

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by bharatratna4sachin.com on (March 2, 2010, 18:52 GMT)

Sachin deserves to get Bharat Ratna award - vote and support - http://bharatratna4sachin.com - target is to get 1 Lakh votes for Sachin Tendulkar.

Posted by sabbath86 on (March 2, 2010, 18:07 GMT)

@vinaykn

even if you see the 3rd and 4th innings in lost matches...lara scored 5 centuries and sachin 4 centuries...and lara played 63 innings where as sachin 44...if you could see here,lara has many more innings where he didn't play well "when needed" as you say...

Greatness is relative my friend.How would you know one is great if not for what others did?

And i guess it's incomplete to just rate batsmen based on matches won and lost..there is much more to it...

Posted by sabbath86 on (March 2, 2010, 17:56 GMT)

@vinaykn

let's see the records how some greats fared well in lost matches overall...

Mat Inns NO RunsDescending HS Ave 100 50 lara - 63 126 0 5316 226 42.19 14 22 sachin - 44 88 1 3192 177 36.68 10 12 Dravid - 39 78 3 2004 118 26.72 1 11 ponting - 23 46 0 1660 242 36.08 4 8

except for lara and sachin nobody else played well in lost matches...that means sachin and lara were the only ones who stood there when the chips were down...

i guess you got the cue how team's contribution matters the most in winning matches...

Posted by sabbath86 on (March 2, 2010, 17:49 GMT)

@vinaykn

if you cared enough to look into the stats of other batsmen too,then you'd know that not more than 4 centuries have been scored in 4th innings of tests...

and this "team let him down" theory holds more to the bowlers than the batsmen in tests...which i guess is very much true going by the record in 90s to a larger extent where our bowling was pathetic and to an extent in 00s...

well,if you think his first innings score is useless,just like typical sachin-hater then there is nothing to debate with so-called team fans...there was many a time the team let him down(batsmen) in first-innings like his famous 169 vs SA in durban(where azhar was the only contributor) or his perth innings in 92 etc.

Posted by sabbath86 on (March 2, 2010, 17:32 GMT)

@vinaykn

now this is getting lamer and lamer...since you've got no points to counter you're creating false situations that he ignored taking singles...lol,when did this happen?he did everything to ensure there was every possible run taken...either it's your hatred that is leading to manipulate situations or it's just plain ignorance...

FYI,he played those "stupid shots" quite a number of times all his career,particularly in his later half of the career...maybe you should take a look again,to see the bounce of the delivery and talk where went wrong...:D

just as gibbs innings played 3 years ago which makes his innings greater(IYO),sachin's 175 is greater if you consider objectively,the team's contribution...oh!it doesn't matter in your cricket bible right!sorry...

Posted by sabbath86 on (March 2, 2010, 17:22 GMT)

@vinaykn

well,i guess you wouldn't agree,as i said before,coz of intentional ignorance...isn't that scoring well when the wickets at the other end are falling like pack of cards,against odds?

now you are contradicting your statements here...you say greatness doesn't depend on "others" but still compare him with others based on MATCHES WON in crunch situations and blah blah,which in every sane cricket follower's opinion is dependent upon the TEAM...if greatness is not "dependent" upon others then stop comparing the number of matches won he was involved in and etc. which is solely dependent upon the team's performance...go by stats that compare the individual effort of each other rather than the variables that involve team effort(like matches won etc.)

Posted by sabbath86 on (March 2, 2010, 17:11 GMT)

@vinaykn

well,well,well..what a way to twist facts...and you accuse me of twisting words?funny..

in sachin's 70+ scores team lost 29 times to that of lara's 14 and kallis 16...and how intelligently have you tried to cover the fact that his team let him down by just quoting the percentage which more or less is equal here to all of them but when you see the number of matches lost...sachin has double the number than others...considering the percentage of 70+ scores that would come...this surely means that his team has let him down way more than that for the others...

even if you see the percentages of lost matches to total matches(in case of 70+) they've played...sachin(6.5%),lara(4.3%) and kallis(5.3%)...even here as sachin has more matches this percentage means a lot more matches lost than others... way to go cricket team fan...:D your argument is as good as someone claiming that a batsman has 100% success rate when all he did is play just 2 matches...lol...

Posted by vinaykn on (March 2, 2010, 16:11 GMT)

LOL: "hell with the stats". great to hear that. My dear friends, i just show those stats only for proving that "NO BODY LET HIM DOWN" while saving/chasing the match.As somebody said he has done heroics but others spoiled it.That happened only once in Chennai test out of 44 innings.I dont mean as these stats are not with him, so he is not great.There are 44 situations but he just behaved normally like any other.That is want I want to tell.These stats are when team lost,means there is crunch situation must perform.I found better stats for Gavaskar who had average of 40+ while losing.He couldnt stop loss,but performed well.Others dont perform also could not control the loss.Everybody will not have all great points.Definitely it is one of the point.On this count Gavaskar have.Definitely your master must have others,I am not denying.Please dont misunderstood,just saying that it is not true that when he did heroics others spoiled it.I am not reiterating I am not hater,but dont insult others

Posted by Neil247 on (March 2, 2010, 14:25 GMT)

What's with this tiny minority of ppl and their rabid envy of Sachin?

Posted by witty-jack on (March 2, 2010, 13:57 GMT)

@ vinaykn- To hell with your stupid stats. compare with ponting and lara in 3rd and 4th innings. Ponting and Sachin have similar records.Do badly in 2 countries. Average close to 43 with sachin having 0.4 more. excluding Zim and Ban. check out Lara. Does not do as badly as sachin or poting in any country but lags by 4. Lara has 9 100s in 3rd and 4th in 121. ponting 5 in 3rd and 4th in 108 matches. Sachin 12 in 137 such matches. stop crapping. check this out! u can always say anything you want and prove them with stats. the thing with stats is it shows their individual contribution. Its team which can succeed or fail.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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