Injuries continue to plague Tendulkar

Published: Thursday, May 26, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar is passing through that unfortunate phase of his illustrious career when his health bulletins are being as closely followed as his runs.

The stars are not smiling on the champion batsman these days as he has already been ruled out of international cricket for four months following surgery on his left elbow in England on Monday.

He is likely to miss a triangular One-day series in Sri Lanka in August and two Tests in Zimbabwe the following month.

The tennis elbow also forced Tendulkar to skip three one-day tournaments and two home Tests against Australia last season.

When he scored a double-century in Bangladesh last December to equal compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's world mark of 34 Test hundreds, many believed he had recovered completely.

But the injury continued to haunt him as he was again advised rest for six weeks after the Bangladesh series.

The recent blow came just when he was under fire for losing much of his batting flair and flamboyance, especially after his 98-ball 16 against Pakistan in the third and final Test at Bangalore in March.

A stonewalling Tendulkar was just unacceptable to fans and critics, who had been spoilt by watching the master batsman tear bowling attacks apart on any surface with amazing strokeplay.

But even Tendulkar cannot resist the ravages of time.

He has already spent an incredible 16 of his 32 years in highly-competitive international cricket, where no quarter is asked and none given.

Tendulkar is the fourth-highest scorer in Test cricket with 10,134 runs in 123 matches. He is also the world-record holder in one-day cricket with 13,642 runs in 348 matches with 38 hundreds.

But such is his greatness that fans always wanted him to be injury-free without realising that he is also a mortal.

He has had more than his fair share of injuries - back, finger, toe, ankle and now elbow.

Tendulkar suffered a back sprain during the opening Test against Pakistan at Chennai in 1999 but batted in pain in the second match at Delhi, just to deny his opponents a psychological advantage.

Greatness demands a price and who knows it better than Tendulkar, who has often breached the pain-barrier to serve his team.

It pained him a great deal when critics recently questioned his ability to repeat his old magic despite his insistence he had changed his batting style.

"I batted with a certain style when I was 16. At 20, I batted differently. It again changed when I was 25 and again when I turned 30, with age, my role in the team changed too," Tendulkar said recently.

"It's a process that everyone experiences. In the past too, batsmen have made changes when compelled by certain factors like age."

Even batting great Viv Richards of the West Indies said Tendulkar would remain a vital cog in the Indian batting machine despite shedding much of his aggressiveness.

"Tendulkar is now a very mature player," said Richards.

"He is now more into a fortifying role and not flamboyant. But you must respect that he has grown older. He cannot always fulfill the things that are expected of him."

Tendulkar appears to be a victim of lofty standards he has set for himself, for a slight slip is considered a major fall.

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