Sachin makes critics eat their words

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Saturday, January 3, 2004, 17:47 [IST]
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Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket what Shakespeare is to literature. Both are indispensable for the survival of the other. Both of them write poetry. One with the willow, the other with the pen.

The form is temporary, class is permanent adage has proved right in Tendulkar's case. He has begun the New Year in style with a gem of a knock that sent the Sydney crowd into raptures. He seems to have exorcised the ghosts of year 2003 that saw a slump in his form, perhaps the worst since he made his debut fourteen years backs.

Together with the artist with the willow V V S Laxman, Tendulkar sent the Aussies on a leather hunt with their rollicking 353-run stand for the fourth wicket. From this position, it is unlikely that India will lose this Test memorable for being Steve Waugh's swansong. Now this Test will be remembered for Sachin's career-best knock than for Waugh's farewell.

The Sydney Sizzler was quite different from a lot of his previous knocks where one finds a rampaging Sachin from ball one. But the present one saw an unusually reticent Tendulkar taking his time. Perhaps, his repeated failures were weighing in his mind and so this time he was prepared to play the waiting game. Everyone knew that a big one was due from him and he didn't let them down. It was a gritty knock, no doubt, that made the critics eat their words.

Despite being a top-notch performer for the country for a while, Tendulkar has been subjected to unfair trials and tribulations whenever a rare failure occurs from him. His present lean patch drew flak from every nook and cranny, be it from the maidans of Shivaji Park where he had his baptism or from the so-called pundits, some of who even bayed for his blood.

Yet, Tendulkar was least perturbed by these campaigns and instead let his bat do the talking. When asked whether he was tired after his marathon knock, he remarked diplomatically, "Not at all, since I've not done much in the series." The New Year seems to have brought him back to his groove and that spells doom for the bowlers. He showed glimpses of his magic with the willow yesterday itself, but appeared scratchy. But today, there was no stopping him.

The sight of the Aussies flocking to congratulate him reminded a similar step enacted by Merv Hughes and Dean Jones at the same venue 12 years ago when he compiled that clinical 148 which marked his arrival on the scene.

Laxman has become synonymous with motivation. If it was Rahul Dravid who excelled earlier in his company, today it was the turn of the little master, and it could well be Ganguly next.

There was a time when India's fortunes heavily depended on the form of the master blaster. When Sachin fails, India loses, that was the situation then. Times have changed and others rose to the occasion thereby easing his burden. No longer is India a one-man army. However, the sudden dip in his form in the Test cricket, that too at a time when he was consistently delivering in the abridged version, raised many eyebrows.

People's memories are too short and they started jumping into unfair conclusions. Some even wrote him off. Nobody was willing to accept it as a lean patch through which most of the revered names in the annals of the game have gone through. However, it was a matter of time before Sachin got back his rhythm and what better opportunity than the farewell Test of Waugh.

In the present tour Down Under, Indians have shown great resilience for which they are not much known for. Tendulkar's resurgence is part of the same valour. The joy and relief on his face was poignant. Everyone was waiting with bated breath for the premier batsman to fire and finally the SCG today witnessed the denouement that augurs well for Indian cricket. But not for bowlers from the opposition camp!

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