Tendulkar: Man with a Midas touch

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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If there is an Indian batsman whose temporary lapse in form can spark a heated debate across the country, he is Sachin Tendulkar. And he himself is responsible for it.

The little genius has set such high standards in his illustrious 17-year international career that even a minor slip can disturb millions of his fans and send media into an overdrive.

Tendulkar was just 16 when he played his first one-day series in 1989 in Pakistan, giving glimpses of his courage and amazing shot-making ability. And his countrymen still expect him to relive the old magic.

He will turn 34 during the World Cup carrying the burden of expectations on his shoulders after scoring nearly 15,000 runs with more than 40 centuries in one-day internationals, both world records in the shorter version of the game.

It is not easy being a Tendulkar in India and retired Australian leg-spin magician Shane Warne was not off the target when he said he admired the Indian for what he had gone through in his career.

Tendulkar recently came under fire for losing much of his flamboyance, but gave a fitting reply to his critics with a 76-ball hundred against the West Indies in the fourth and final one-dayer at Vadodara in January.

India expect him to continue in the same vein because his form will be vital and he is expected to fire irrespective of his batting slot.

Even the Indian team's think-tank realise the significance of Tendulkar and has often changed his batting position, confident he is an experienced and extraordinary batsman who can deliver at any slot.

Tendulkar has scored bulk of his runs as an opener, but showed that he was also comfortable in the middle order when he hammered a rapidfire century against Brian Lara's team recently.

He may have been plagued with various injuries in recent years, but remains a batsman the opposition fear in both forms of the game. He is still creative although he has become selective in stroke-making.

Tendulkar has had a long love affair with the World Cup, starting with 1992 edition in Australia. He is the tournament's highest scorer with 1,732 runs in 33 match with four hundreds.

The occasion brings the best out of him. He was a bowlers' nightmare in the 2003 tournament in South Africa where he emerged as a leading scorer with 673 runs in 11 matches.

Tendulkar was instrumental in his team reaching the final after two decades and his failure in the title-clash against Ricky Ponting's Australians severely affected India's chances.

He now has nothing to prove after amassing more than 25,000 runs in international cricket, but will be keen to be a member of the World Cup-winning team, the only missing accolade in his long career.

Tendulkar may not be there when the next World Cup arrives in the sub-continent in 2011.


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