After India's spectacular collapse in the second Test in Mumbai, the focus once again shifted to Sachin Tendulkar, who was dismissed cheaply in both innings. Failures and bad patches are not uncommon in a career as long as Tendulkar's but given his lofty standards, a century-less streak of 28 innings is definitely a cause for concern. Since his brilliant century in Cape Town in January 2011, Tendulkar has regularly struggled to convert his starts into high scores. After two centuries in the World Cup 2011, he took a little more than a year to score his next international century, his 100th. Despite starting off well on both the England and Australia tours, his form fell away as the series progressed. In his last ten innings (starting from the Perth Test), Tendulkar has scored just 153 runs (average 15.30) and failed to pass 30 even once. His lean spell in Tests since the Cape Town Test has prompted comparisons with the period between December 2005 and the Sydney Test in 2007 when his only centuries came in matches against Bangladesh.
In an outstanding career, Tendulkar has perhaps had only two phases where he has seemed vulnerable. In the first phase (2005-2007), when his bad run coincided with a tennis elbow problem, he scored 847 runs at 32.57 in 28 innings (excludes matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). He was dismissed six times in single figures (0-9) and fell between 20 and 49 on six further occasions. Despite passing fifty in seven innings, he was unable to convert any of the knocks into a century. When these stats are compared with his run since January 2011 (after the Cape Town Test), the results are startlingly similar. In 27 innings, Tendulkar has scored 870 runs at an average of 32.22 with six half-centuries. While the number of single-figure dismissals (6) is the same as in the previous phase, he has been dismissed more often between 20 and 49 (8 times). Remarkably, the percentage of bowled and lbw dismissals in both phases are almost equal (50.00 and 51.85 respectively).
Phase one includes all innings (against top teams) starting from the second innings of the Delhi Test against Sri Lanka in December 2005 to the end of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG in 2007. Phase two includes all innings starting from the Lord's Test in 2011 to the end of the Mumbai Test against England.
Struggles home and away
In the first phase, Tendulkar played seven Tests at home (11 innings) and averaged 31.11. Both his half-centuries came against Pakistan in 2006. However, in five innings against England, Tendulkar managed a total of only 83 runs with a highest of 34. His struggles were predominantly in the second and third innings: in six innings, Tendulkar managed only 57 runs at an average of 9.50. His away form during the period was also well below par. In 17 innings, he scored 567 runs at an average of 33.35 with five half-centuries. Interestingly, he managed to score only 87 runs in the second innings (third and fourth innings of matches) at an average of 10.87.
Between the Cape Town Test and the second Test in Mumbai, Tendulkar played seven Tests at home (11 innings) and scored 310 runs at an average of 28.18. His numbers have been particularly disappointing in the first innings of home Tests (78 runs at 19.50). In the period, India were beaten 4-0 in England and Australia. Tendulkar endured an ordinary run in the eight Tests away from home, averaging just 35 with four half-centuries. While he has averaged 54.75 in the third innings, his average in the other three innings is just 28.41.
Tendulkar's century-less streaks (Bangladesh/Zimbabwe matches excluded)
Period Innings Runs Average 50-plus 0-9 * 20-49 * % (bowled & lbw)
Dec 2005-Dec 2007 28 847 32.57 7 6 6 50.00
Jan 2011-present 27 870 32.22 6 6 8 51.85
* Only innings in which the batsman was dismissed
Problems with the incoming delivery
In his last two innings, Tendulkar has been dismissed by Monty Panesar (bowled and lbw). He also fell to Michael Clarke in the second innings in Sydney. Overall, in the last two years, Tendulkar has been dismissed three times by left-arm spinners and averages just 7.33 against them. Part of Tendulkar's problems against left-arm spinners has been his defensive approach (scoring rate 2.44) in recent times. Between 2005 and 2007, Tendulkar was dismissed five times by right-arm spinners (average of 16.00) and scored at 3.22 runs per over. In the second phase, though, he has fallen three times to right-arm spinners, but has managed a much higher average (37.50).
Unsurprisingly, right-arm fast bowlers have accounted for majority of his dismissals in both phases. In the second phase (2011 onwards), Tendulkar has a slightly higher average and scoring rate against right-arm pace bowlers. He was not dismissed even once by left-arm pace bowlers in the first phase but in the last two years, he has been dismissed twice and averages 11.50. On both occasions, he was dismissed lbw and bowled by the ball swinging in (Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult).
Tendulkar against pace and spin
Bowler type 2005-2007(wickets/avg) 2005-2007 (balls per dismissal/scoring rate) 2011-present (wickets/avg) 2011-present (balls per dismissal/scoring rate)
Right-arm pace 18/35.22 69/3.06 15/40.66 68.20/3.57
Left-arm pace 0/- -/2.96 2/11.50 28.50/2.42
Right-arm spin 5/16.00 29.8/3.22 6/37.50 81.00/2.77
Left-arm spin 4/70.00 108.25/3.87 3/7.33 18.00/2.44
Repeated failures to capitalise on starts
Tendulkar was bowled three times in the series against New Zealand and once more in the first innings in Mumbai. Overall, in 27 innings since the Cape Town Test, he has been bowled six times. Four of those dismissals have come after he has got a start (10-49) and one each in single figures and the nineties. Leg-before dismissals have also constituted a significant proportion of the total dismissal tally. Pace bowlers have been responsible for six of the eight lbw dismissals. The lbw dismissals however are fairly evenly spaced across different phases of his innings. He has been dismissed three times each in single figures and the nineties and twice between 10 and 49. Another noticeable stat is the fact that he has been out caught behind the wicket (wicketkeeper and slips) on five occasions between 10 and 49. Again, pace bowlers have enjoyed more success in this mode of dismissal (five times) than spinners (twice). Furthermore, he has been dismissed caught off other fielders on five occasions including three times between 10 and 49.
Mode of dismissals (number of dismissals) -(2011-present)
Mode 0-9 10-49 50-99 Pace Spin
Bowled 1 4 1 5 1
LBW 3 2 3 6 2
Caught (wicketkeeper/slips) 1 5 1 5 2
Caught (other fielders) 1 3 1 1 4
In the first phase (2005-2007), Tendulkar was dismissed bowled on six occasions (same as 2011-2012). The distribution of bowled dismissals is also exactly similar to the recent phase with four of his six dismissals coming between 10 and 49. However, the stats for lbw dismissals are quite different from those of the second phase. Between 2005 and 2007, Tendulkar fell lbw six times after getting a start (10-49) but less often (twice) in the second phase. In the first phase, he was also dismissed an even number of times (four) by pace bowlers and spinners. Tendulkar was also caught seven times (wicketkeepers and slips) off pace bowlers and only once off spinners. In contrast, in the recent phase, the distribution was 5-2 in favour of fast bowlers.
Mode of dismissals (number of dismissals) -(2005-2007)
Mode 0-9 10-49 50-99 Pace Spin
Bowled 1 4 1 5 1
LBW 1 6 1 4 4
Caught (wicketkeeper/slips) 2 3 3 7 1
Caught (other fielders) 2 1 0 1 2
Tendulkar arrested his slide in extraordinary fashion at the end of the first phase by scoring six centuries in 15 Tests between the Sydney Test in January 2008 and the Cape Town Test in January 2011. In 11 of his 28 innings, Tendulkar passed 50 and averaged 62.84. The present slump is, if anything, far more pronounced than the poor run he experienced between 2006 and 2008. Given his track record though, it would be hard to bet against him bouncing back again.

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo