Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2013

Blog by: Souvik

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

THE BIG GAME

The biggest game of the weekend takes us to North London where Tottenham; still reeling from their six goal drubbing at the hands of Manchester City play host to their cross town rivals Manchester United on Sunday. With both teams riddled with inconsistent performances, this has become a match which sees both sides sitting outside top four. This game this provides perfect incentives to both managers kick-start their campaign with a positive result. With the way this season has so far unfolded for either of the team, all three results remain a distinct possibility.

Spurs will be desperate to bounce back and reclaim their “big boy” status after coming unstuck in two consecutive games. The pressure on Spurs boss Andres Villas-Boas seems to be growing with disappointing result, but he is certainly not flinching in front of the media. The biggest problem for Spurs so far has been in front of goals. The North-Londoners have only managed to bag 9 goals in 12 league games so far with Roberto Soldado looking a pale version of his former self. The last time Spurs failed to score in 3 consecutive Premier League games was back in January 2009.

Manchester United on the other hand is coming off their biggest win in European football in nearly 50 years. The Red Devils offensive game seems to coming to tune at the right moment and that should spell more trouble for a Spurs side that is coming of six goal drubbing. With both Nani and Valencia putting in terrific performances in midweek and Kagawa finally finding his niche, the team selection shouldn’t be much of a problem for David Moyes with Robin Van Persie likely to start on the bench after missing the game in midweek.

City on the rampage

Manchester City has been ruthless in front of goal in recent games, hitting 22 goals in their last 5 which includes a surprising loss at bottom dwelling Sunderland where they drew a blank. The Citizens welcome Swansea to The Etihad, where they have scored 41 goals this season in 10 games. Sergio Aguero has so far been in sublime form (16 goals in all competition so far) and now with Navas and Negredo coming to the fore, the goals have been flowing for Pellegrini’s men.

Swansea’s resources on the hand are being stretched to fullest with their involvement in the Europa League this season. The Welsh were dealt a further blow when both Wilfried Bony and Angel Rangel picked up knocks midweek in their loss to Valencia. The swans will have to grind it out and put in a real shift if they want to get anything out of this contest.

Arsenal looks to stretch lead

The season has been going straight north so far for the North Londoners ever since the ugly defeat at the hands of Aston Villa in the first week of the campaign. The arrival of Mesut Ozil seems to have rejuvenated the side and they sit pretty at the top now with a 4 point gap.

The Gunners travel to Cardiff where the bluebirds lie in the wait. Cardiff City will be buoyed by their 2-2 draw against Manchester United last weekend and certainly be looking to play spoilsport once again. The two teams will be meeting in a league fixture for the first time in fifty one years and the last time that Cardiff managed to overhaul the Gunners was in 1961. Toppling the Gunners will again be no mean task for the Welsh side with Arsenal possessing arguably the most lethal midfield in the country.

A top of the table clash

None would have billed this weekends’ Chelsea vs. Southampton game to be a top of the table clash at the beginning of the season. As it stands, Stamford Bridge will play host to a game between the third and fifth placed sides in the league. In 12 games so far Mauricio Pochettino’s side have than staked their claim at the top of the table with the Saints garnering a reputation for being  one of the toughest sides to beat this season.

It has not been all plain sailing for Mourinho on his return to Stanford Bridge. Flamboyant performance against West Ham has been followed by despondent ones; like at Basel in mid-week. For the second time in the past few weeks Mourinho has suggested that his selection of the playing 11 has been main cause of mishaps rather than blaming it on the players. The “special one” certainly has to quickly figure his 11 out soon if they are to challenge for the title this season in all seriousness. With Samuel Eto’o out for the foreseeable future with a groin injury, Chelsea will be stretched for options upfront with Torres coming back from an injury himself.

Southampton on the other hand has been consistently doling out results with a miserly defence forming the base for their endeavours. With the victory over Liverpool at Anfield as the only big scalp for the Saints so far, this might be a perfect opportunity for Southampton to set the records straight and set a few cats amongst the pigeons at the top of the table.

Elsewhere
Liverpool travel to Hull where anything but a win would be a disappointing result for the Kop. With Daniel Sturridge expected to come back into the line-up, one would expect the SAS to strike again at the KC Stadium. Hull on the other hand possesses a mean defensive record at home. Steve Bruce’s men have conceded only twice at home in the EPL all season. The Tigers would certainly be looking to make home advantage count against to see off the dangerous Liverpool.

Newcastle meet West Brom at St. James’ Park on Saturday looking for a fourth straight win in the league for the first time since April 2012. Loic Remy has been on fire for Newcastle so far this season having already scored 8 of Newcastle’s 17 goals this campaign. West Brom on the other hand, comes into the game on the back of 3 game unbeaten streak of which two games ending in 2-2 draw.

Six games without a win have resulted in the pressure mounting on Sam Allardyce to deliver at West Ham. “Big Sam” as he is known lost Andy Carroll in the summer just after the English forward had put pen to paper on a permanent move to Upton Park. Allardyce has found mightily hard to find a suitable replacement and was been forced to re-signing Carlton Cole in a desperate measure after releasing him at the end of the last campaign. The Hammers welcome fellow strugglers Fulham in another all-London affair. Like Allardyce, Martin Jol’s team is looking for some form inspiration to drive the Cottagers away from the bottom of the table. Losing 6 of their last 8 league games has seen Berbatov and co. plunge to the bottom of the table and are currently occupying the last of the relegation places.

Norwich’s clash against Crystal Palace sees two teams who have collectively won only 2 of their last 12 games in all competition. While Crystal Palace looked rejuvenated in Tony Pulis’ first game at Selhurst Park, Chris Hughton would be looking to find the form that took his team 10 games unbeaten last season around this time of the year.

Bottom of the league Sunderland travel 13th placed Aston Villa trying to stay in touch with the others above them. The Black Cats have struggled mightily on the road losing all 5 of its last 5 away games. Villa on the other hand has had a season filled with inconsistency. Paul Lambert’s men have lacked the ability to eke out the results although their fast flowing football have so far deserved.

Everton and Roberto Martinez should be more than pleased with the early returns at Goodison Park. The Spaniard has continued to build on the good work of David Moyes as the squad looks even stronger. Martinez’s good work in the transfer business has seen Everton bolster their ranks with arrivals of James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Romelo Lukaku; all of whom have played vital roles towards Everton’s strong start to the campaign. Three draws on the trot however, has seen the Tofees fall to seventh in the table, though only a single point off Champions League places. Mark Hughes and his Stoke team pay a visit to the Merseyside for this week’s fixture. Long associated with the long ball tactics under Tony Pulis, the team is still soul searching in terms of footballing philosophy under Hughes. They however still remain dull as ever in terms of entertainment value and look cosy in 14th spot.

Advertisements

By: Souvik

FBL-EUR-C1-LEVERKUSEN-MAN UTD

Chelsea has found its European kryptonite

The Blues managed to plod through to the second round of this year’s Champions League but not because of their performance. The Londoners scrapes through courtesy of a tame goalless draw between Steaua Bucharest and Schalke, although they themselves slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Swiss giants Basel. Chelsea may have finally found their “kryptonite” in European competition. Few teams have been as big a reason for misery for the Blues as much as Basel in the recent past. This year’s Champions League has seen the Blues rampaging through the group stage taking Schalke for a ride in a 3-0 win over the Germans and followed it up with a 3-0 battering of Bucharest only to come unstuck time and again against Basel.

Chelsea were at their authoritative best last weekend away to West Ham romping home to 3-0 victory. Up against Basel, the story however was totally different. The midfield which had looked impermeable against the hammers was undone at will. Only Jon Obi Mikel was able to make some imprints into the game but had too much to on his hands to make a difference. This game is one that the Chelsea fans would rather lock up in the cupboard and forget about it. Basel’s keeper Yann Sommer was a virtual spectator throughout the game as the Londoners failed make a single attempt on goal. To compound Chelsea’s misery further, Samuel Eto’o had to be taken out on a stretcher for what seemed to be a problem with the Cameroonian’s groin. With Torres also recovering from a recent injury of his own, Mourinho’s options upfront seems to have been further stretched.

Isco making Ozil a distant memory at Real Madrid

When Real Madrid decided to purchase Gareth Bale at the expense of Mesut Ozil, it was like someone selling his house to buy a fancy car. The German, who in his few years had become the lynchpin of Real Madrid’s game going forward, departed amidst discontent and disbelief from the Real Madrid fans. It was on Isco’s young shoulder that Real Madrid had entrusted the job of becoming the “play-maker”. The quick-footed Spaniard, who had showed some real potential last season with his performances for Malaga and Spanish U-21, has taken to job like a duck to water.

Isco’s performances this season has taken even the staunchest Ozil admirer to take a step back and applaud the young Spaniard’s coming of age. He has seamlessly fitted into the scheme of things for Carlos Ancelotti. Five goals and two assists in the league itself coupled with a further two goals in the Champions League is a testament to the early season return that Isco has been providing. Showing maturity beyond his years, Isco is making Ozil a fading memory at the Bernabeu. Isco’s imprint in this week’s Champions league game against Galatasaray was there to be seen. With Isco at the fore, even with 10, Los Merengues were the superior team. On the 3 minute mark, he played in Bale in with a sublime ball, only for the Welshman to strike it wide. He was again in the thick of things in Madrid’s attacking game, playing an instrumental role in starting the move which saw Madrid extend their lead 3-1 through a penalty. Then on the stroke of 80 minutes, Isco rounded off his brilliant performance with a goal of his own to see Madrid home in comfortable fashion. 

Bold decisions can bear fruit for Moyes

There wasn’t any better team display from any of the other 31 teams involved in Gameday 5 of the Champions League than Manchester United’s 5-0 demolition away to Bayer Leverkusen. The red devils played with a swagger that we have generally have come to associate with them in the years past.

Coming into the game, Leverkusen were eight games unbeaten at home and sitting in second spot in the Bundesliga table. Given Bayer’s recent form they would have fancied their chances against a team yet to build an identity under a new boss. What proceeded in the following ninety minutes had Leverkusen Sporting Director Rudi Voller at a loss for words.

Moyes, who played both Rooney and Kagawa in their much preferred roles as the Centre Forward and the just behind the main forward respectively was rewarded with 5 goals in a 5 star performance from the United side. The game was one of Moyes’ biggest yet in his short tenure as the Manchester United manager. This match might create selection headaches but that’s one headache that every manager would prefer to others. Kagawa seemed like the man that the Red Devils had paid all the moolah for. Ryan Giggs, two days shy of his 40th birthday turned round the clock and seemed to play with the vigour of a teenager. For once even the backline seemed to have found their niche.

A must win game away to one of best German sides would have been a test for the best of managers let alone the new Scot at Old Trafford. Moyes not only passed the test but made a mockery of it. With many more tests to come for Moyes yet, there will be many more occasions where he needs to take some unflinching decisions that may even include rotating between RVP and Rooney to get the best out of Kagawa.

This might be Manchester City’s year finally in Europe

Firstly les make things clear: This being Manchester City’s year should mean in no ways that they are favourites for the title. They can however do some serious damage to Bayern Munich and other big hopeful’s chances towards lifting the trophy come June 2014. In doing so the Citizens’ are also well on their way to shrug off their tag of “perennial chokers” in Europe.

City had already made it through to the second round of the Champions League coming into this week’s game at the third time of asking. However, their performances of late will warrant ornate looks from the other big boys in the competition. Carrying on from their fine display at the weekend which saw Pellegrini’s men thump six past Tottenham, City cruised home to a 4-0 demolition of a hapless Plzen. The blue half of Manchester seem to be certainly going up the gears as recent results have seen City hit 4,5,6 and even 7 goals past their opponents.

Salah and Mitroglou’s futures lie elsewhere 

This is the nature of the game of football. It’s sad but it’s the harsh truth. As soon as a player begins to shine and garner some reputation playing for a club with not much to offer in terms of financials, silverware or a reputed league; the big boys swoop in to take the prized possessions away. Basel’s Egyptian forward Mohamad Saleh and Olympiakos’ Kostas Mitroglou have been the real revelations in this year’s group stages of the Champions League.

Mitrolglu, who came into the game against PSG having scored 20 goals in 16 games for club and country, was a constant thorn in the PSG defence though failing to find the back of the net. With all the big clubs mooted to be interested in the giant Greek, Olympiacos will have a decision soon on their hands on “when” rather than “whether” to cash on their hitman.

While Mitroglou has been busy taming the Mediterranean, further north a 21 year old Egyptian has been taking his reputation to new heights. Mohamed Salah performances of later has seen his already alluring profile reach new peaks in the dizzy altitudes of Switzerland. The southpaw, who has been a cause of real sorrow for all Chelsea fans, was at the thick of things again this week. Saleh scored the decisive goal yet again to ensure Basel’s double over Mourinho’s Chelsea in the group stages. With 9 goals and 7 assists in 27 games this season, the fleet footed forward has had scouts across the continent going gaga over his talent which combines raw pace with some nifty footwork and an eye for goal.

It won’t at all be surprising if we see the Egyptian or the Greek in new colours as early as this coming January.

Blog by: Rohinee

CRICKET-TRI-WIS-IND

After the 2-0 whitewash that the West Indian cricket team suffered at the hands of India, the promise of the ODI series seemed to be paling even before the start of the series. The West Indian test team looked to be lack-lustre, without self-confidence and uninspired; a fact that India used to their very advantage. The three-match ODI series thus looked to be an extension of the haplessness of the West Indians, a prospect no cricket fan relished.

The West Indian team suffered from an unexpected loss of value addition to its team with Chris Gayle left injured thanks to his scramble for a non-existent run in the first ODI. Already reeling with a comparatively lesser-impactful side that seemed to wilt under pressure, the onus came to the shoulders of Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy and Darren Bravo to ensure that their team didn’t suffer from additional insult in the ODI series.

Amongst these, it was perhaps Bravo who outshone the rest making 160-runs in the three matches. He was probably the only West Indian batsman who troubled the Indian bowlers the most even as the rest fell without offering any resistance. In his speech following the second test match, the West Indian captain had a lot to say about how the West Indians could learn from the Indians. But looking at the West Indian performance in the ODI series, it felt as though the West Indians were falling short of essential competitiveness from within themselves.

Considering that the West Indians have yet another tour lined up – to New Zealand – immediately following their tour to India, their attitude seemed completely at odds to their professional commitments. In contrast, observing the Indians, it became quite obvious that the Indian team wasn’t really taking its opponents lightly. It was apparent that the team wanted to win the ODI series and take the momentum forward to South Africa where a greater test awaited them.

Complacency wasn’t visible and each member of the squad contributed equally leaving no doubts in the minds of everyone about their superiority on the playing field. The West Indians may still rue about Chris Gayle’s forced absence but fact remains that even without his presence, if the West Indians had managed to come up with enough resistance, they could have given India a much tougher fight.

Following the West Indians’ win in the second ODI at Vizag, excitement seemed to return to the Indo-West Indian cricketing melee but any hopes that one might have harboured about a potential West Indian fight-back was soon lost at the way their batsmen floundered. Thus, though the West Indian bowling ranks consisting of Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine, Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo and Veeraswamy Permaul may have come up with a distinctly better performance than their batting counterparts, the latter’s inability to provide a good total upped the onus on their shoulders. Suffice to say, that the Indians were able to exploit this loophole in the West Indian ranks to their full advantage.

This series also emphasised the mire that West Indian cricket is entangled in presently. Though the team has won the last T20 World Cup and has several star players representing IPL teams, its performances in two of cricket’s oldest formats are dipping to new lows. While it has often been stated about the West Indians’ attraction towards T20, the failure of the team players to compensate equally in ODIs and tests has definitely impacted the credibility of the team. This has also in turn pulled the team down in the cricketing rankings making them a mediocre squad.

Looking back at the legacy that West Indies has given to the cricketing world, this transformation is a huge letdown, not just for the country’s cricketing future, but also for its past players who were excellent in all forms of the game existing at that point. This lack-lustre series thus is an eye-opener for West Indian cricket. Their cricketing fortunes may not be what it used to be a couple of decades ago, but ensuring that their fortunes are reversed is well within their grasp. All it needs is motivation and the desire and will to change.

Blog by: Rohinee Iyer

It is an undeniable fact that Sachin Tendulkar’s name ranks foremost as far as compilations of cricketing records are concerned. But when it comes to tabulating his amassing and comparing it with the assemblage of giants from sporting avenues far and wide, there is a lot to consider before one can pinpoint the cricketer’s place in the global spectrum of sports.

To do so however would require addressing a few key aspects primarily considering that each sporting speciality is unique and as such would differ greatly with cricket. The element of individual and team sports also needs to be viewed with, given that despite Sachin’s impressive records and stature in the cricketing realm, cricket is a team sport depending on the efforts of each and every player who is a part of the squad.

Thus, it is fitting to divide the categorisations of team and individual sports separately and in each category list out a couple of popular sporting domains with a top-rated athlete in each domain. With the following specific points potentially gauging Sachin’s place in the aggregation of sporting arenas:

World Cup 1966: Brazil V Hungary

Game Totality

Team Sports:

–          Football: Pele – One of the most complete players to have ever graced the game, Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele – is regarded to be amongst the greatest sportsman ever. The Brazilian forward had a complete game which allowed him to dominate the sport during his time. Making his debut at the age of 15, Pele’s proficiency on the field was unmatched both in the international circuit as well as in the club football level.

–          Basketball: Michael Jordan – Known for his absolute, airtight defensive playmaking and his impeccably singular slam-dunks, Michael Jordan was a basketball wonder whose aura is still undiminished. His game saw him win not only NBA titles and coveted MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards, but also earned him the respect and awe of fans across the world.

Individual Sports:

–          Tennis: Roger Federer – The winner of 17-majors, Roger Federer has been the go-to tennis player for over a decade now. Boasting of a near-complete game with exemplary technical acumen, the Swiss’ repertoire of amassing records has made him to be cynosure of attraction, world over.

–          Golf: Tiger Woods – The American prodigy is perceived to be an instrumental influence on the sport by experts and fans bringing in more athletic fervour to the sport. The world number one has been incomparable with his game-making with innumerable golfing achievements to his credit. These are records that indelibly etch him to be one of the greatest sportsperson of all times.

–          Formula1: Michael Schumacher – There are hardly few who are ignorant of the German’s name and fame in the world of motorsports. Michael Schumacher was a tour de force of the F1 circuit during his heydays, pipping every other race driver.

In terms of his game, Sachin Tendulkar had the most complete game that he was able to modulate to suit the more evolutionary needs of the sport, over the course of years. High on technique and delivery, the sheer classicality of Tendulkar’s shots substantiated his case as a true gem of the cricketing world.

The Championships - Wimbledon 2012: Day Thirteen

Career Longevity:

Team Sports:

–          Football: Pele – The Brazilian governmental policies during Pele’s era restricted Pele to play for a non-Brazilian club. Thus while, most of the future generation Brazilian had the chance and opportunity to play for high-profile clubs, Pele was limited with just one long-lasting stint with Santos between the years 1956-74. He led Santos to two consecutive Copa Libertadores titles in 1962 and 1963 whilst becoming the only player in the sport’s history to have been a part of three World Cup winning squads.

–          Basketball: Michael Jordan – The American began his NBA career with Chicago Bulls taking the team to soaring heights in the 14-years that he spent there. His three-year stint with the Washington Wizards following his second retirement was also quite successful though it was marred by injury that eventually led to his third and final retirement. The fact that Jordan spent a season as a minor league baseball player also adds valuable substantiality to his longevity as a sportsperson.

Individual Sports:

–          The longevity aspect of both Roger Federer and Tiger Woods can be called as ongoing considering that both sportsmen actively represent their sporting domain. But since both players have been at the top of their game, despite facing huge challenges in the past few years from the newer crop of talent, their longevity is unquestionable.

–          Formula1: Michael Schumacher –In the years that have followed Schumacher’s retirement – first retirement – there hasn’t been anyone who has matched the German’s prolificacy. To a sport that has been riddled with danger in every turn, Schumacher gave a new meaning to the term consistency which further allowed him to be an all-time Formula1 icon.

Making his debut at 16 years, Sachin Tendulkar went on to play for India for nearly a quarter of a century. In cricketing terms, that was almost akin to two generations, enabling him to learn from the experts of the game during his early cricketing days and later take over as the team’s mentor for the younger cricketing generation.

Schumacher Japan GP

Most Notable Achievements

Team Sports:

–          Football: Pele – Guinness World Record holder for most career goals scored in football both in international as well as club football. Most goals’ scorer for Brazil in the World Cup. Part of three World Cup winning squads and part of Santos’ squad winning the Copa Libertadores in 1962 and 1963. Part of Santos’ quadruple winning team in the year 1963.

–          Basketball: Michael Jordan – Leading scorer for Chicago Bulls. Five-time NBA MVP and six-time NBA finals’ MVP. Recipient of several important trophies and awards. Member of several all-time NBA teams. NCAA Champion (1982) and ACC Player of the Year (1984). Part of United States’ Olympic winning squad in 1984 and 1992. 

Individual Sports:

–          Tennis: Roger Federer – 17-time majors’ winner winning all four majors. Six-time ATP finals winner. Winner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Doubles’ with Stanislas Wawrinka. Silver medallist in the 2012 London Olympics (singles). Record number of weeks spent as the world no. 1 (302 weeks).

–          Golf: Tiger Woods – Winner of 14 majors. Youngest player to have won the career Grand Slam. Only player in the sport’s history to have won both silver and gold medal at the Open Championship.

–          Formula1: Michael Schumacher – Seven-time winner of the World Championships (1994-95 and 2000-04). In 2002, had podium finishes in all 17-races winning 11 races. Totality of 91 career victories and 155 podium finishes in a career spanning almost 16-years between 1991 and 2006.

While the biggest achievement of Sachin Tendulkar’s career has been being a part of the 2011 World Cup winning squad, he’s been the recipient of several other noteworthy accomplishments. He’s been the only player to have scored more than 13,000, 14,000 and 15,000 runs in international test cricket. Only player to have scored more than 34,000 runs in both tests and ODIs. He’s also the only cricketer to have played 200-tests. First player to have scored 100 centuries (both tests and ODIs) and first player to have scored 200 runs in ODIs. He’s also the only player to have finished his career with a victory in all of his last matches across all formats.

When placed alongside these giants, there’s no denying that Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements are nearly on par with theirs. However considering that some of these players have been retired for quite a while or in case of the others, are still playing; makes it difficult to pick one clear winner amongst them. Suffice it to say that Sachin Tendulkar holds his own and features right at the uppermost echelons of the sporting world, a place that is sure to be his despite the passing of sporting eras.

Blog by: Shraddha
Australia v India - Tri-Series Game 10

Reality seems to have finally made inroads into the fans’ minds about not being able to see Sachin Tendulkar play for India ever again. In the wake of this realisation thus looms the question: will there ever be another Sachin Tendulkar? Not just from the Indian cricket perspective, but also from the global cricketing paradigm.

Looking back objectively at what Sachin’s been able to achieve in his ‘almost-quarter-of-a-century’ career, it would be only fair to say that his accomplishments were the perfect blend of inborn talent that came to the fore at an early age and which was further nurtured and shaped by circumstances. Tougher the circumstances were, Sachin only managed to come out stronger with more emphatic performances that did a great deal to substantiate his stature at the time of his retirement.

To be able to replicate what Sachin Tendulkar did, therefore would need an equal – if not more – measure of fortitude alongside the necessary skill-set from the contemporary generation of players. A highly demanding task by all accounts, further emphasised by the following aspects:

–          Consistency: The biggest factor contributing to Sachin’s longevity was his consistency throughout the course of his career, spanning across all cricketing formats and tournaments. Cricketers of today’s generation are however finding it hard to maintain their consistency in one format, let alone three which makes it difficult to comprehend their potential replication of the Little Master.

–          Format: Alongside consistency, Sachin’s exemplary skills on the cricketing field were also brought out by his ability to mould his game to suit each format. Presently however, there are very few cricketers who play all leading formats of the game, necessitating choosing different teams for the different formats. And amongst those who do so, the flamboyance that they display in the more conventional format of the game overwhelms the other nuances of their technical aptitudes. While in terms of statistics, these players may indeed come closer to matching – surpassing even – Sachin’s numbers, in terms of the sheer pleasure that Sachin’s techniques and flair invoked; they would be poles apart from the maestro.

–          Fitness: Another major factor that contributed to Sachin’s success was his high fitness levels. Though troubled by injuries on more than one occasion, fitness did play a major role in enabling Sachin to continue for so long in such a competitive sport. However, the way the sport’s evolving with increasing number of tournaments; it would be hard to conceive yet another player managing to maintain high levels of fitness as Sachin did.

–          Weaknesses: Where Sachin had no conceivable weaknesses that manifested themselves before opponents – a parade of them, the chinks in the armour of the contemporary generation of cricketers is far more obvious allowing opponents to pick out at them with ease. This tangible incompleteness definitely takes Sachin’s completeness to a totally different notch, making his accomplishments even harder to contend with.

–          Change in Expectations: The past saw Sachin trying to live up to his fans’ expectations single-handedly, more often than not, in a team sport. The present generation however expects cricketers to work as efficient cogs like in any other team event rather than heaping the expectations on one particular player. This substantially reduces the pressure on a lone player, which also edifices Tendulkar to be a player whose feats can never be replicated.

–          Change in Priorities: The equal amount of attention that Sachin was able to provide towards all leading cricketing formats has been a unique feat in itself. The fact that more and more players are opting to play certain formats rather than be equally proficient in all of them, also pinpoints the ‘never-to-be-bridged’ gap between Tendulkar and the contemporary cricketers.

–          Change in Cricketing Dynamics: As compared to the past, cricketing dynamics are changing quite fast presently. In such heavily changing scenarios, Sachin’s achievements seem almost sedate making it hard to imagine the present – and the future – generation being able to keep up to the changing dynamics, let alone reaching high pinnacles of uniform success.

–          Dilution of Milestones: The present cricketing era has seen an outpouring of milestones being achieved and overhauled. Given the spate of construction and demolishing of cricketing records that happen almost on a daily basis in the present times, Sachin’s accomplishments take on quite a distinctive tone making them even harder to overtake.

–          Balance of Mental Fortitude: While one could find arrogant and headstrong cricketers even back in Sachin’s heydays, when it came to retaliating against such cricketing examples, it was always Tendulkar who had the upper hand. Presently however, such retaliatory tactics seem to have faded away with cricketers’ cockiness and arrogance liberally pouring forth verbally. Yet another indication perhaps, that the past is indeed gone; never to be touched ever again in the future.

–           Competition: During the second test match between India and West Indies, a commentator recalled an anecdote about Sachin’s son quipping about competition making it difficult to enter and sustain in the sport. It may have been a teenager’s quip retorting to a teasing question flung at him. But one that holds true nonetheless. Not many cricketers get to debut as teenagers these days, which makes Sachin and the entirety of his career, a true master-class.

Be as it may, despite the evident differences between the past and the present and the differences that could emerge further in the future, cricketing greatness isn’t going to stop with Sachin Tendulkar. Talent has always spoken for itself in the cricketing realm and there will be someone who will go to achieve the heights of greatness, sparking instant recognition about him, just as Sachin has done all this while.

Blog by: Rohinee

 Australia v India - Tri-Series Game 10

Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Donald Bradman, two legends of the cricketing world; the former’s aptitude and prolificacy acknowledged by the latter himself. Separated by generations, these two players have undeniably thrust the sport into an incomparable prominence that will never fade away.

But even between these two legends, there is still a question persisting about who is the greatest player. The answer is not definite, but is rather subjective as divided opinions make their presence felt across cricketing fandom.

In terms of longevity and performance consistency over the course of the years of their long playing career, both Tendulkar and Sir Bradman are almost on equal footing. But when it comes to analysing the different developments that the sport has seen between the intervening years separating Sir Bradman and Sachin, there are quite a few distinguishing points that present themselves. And most of them veer towards the latter, adjudicating him to be slightly better off on the scale of cricketing greatness.

The following being the core facets of differentiation:

–          Different Formats: When Sachin Tendulkar debuted in 1989, Sir Bradman had been retired for over 40-years. These four decades had thus borne testimony to quite a few interesting changes in the cricketing structure. And though Sir Bradman with his impressive statistics and an invincible test average of 99.94 still ruled the statistical charts, by the time Sachin stepped on to the field it wasn’t only about test cricket, but also about the other formats like ODIs and more contemporarily T20 where maintaining performance consistency mattered. These subtle yet unmistakable aspects thus give Sachin Tendulkar an edge over the legendary Aussie.

–          Opponents’ Variation: During the two decades of Sir Bradman’s professional cricketing life, cricketing opponents were majorly limited. Australia mainly had a prolific cricketing rivalry – that still continues – with England and then to a certain extent with West Indies, India and South Africa. In comparison, Tendulkar has faced myriad opponents, from weaklings to the invincible, which made him to be a more global ambassador of the sport which once again reflects back to the developments encouraged by the international cricketing authorities for the sport. Thus, even though Sir Bradman’s feats between the 22-yards are difficult to emulate, Sachin’s achievements are comparatively more difficult on account of his consistency whilst playing against opponents from all across the world.

–          More Competitive Line-up: During the heydays of Sir Bradman, international cricketing tournaments consisted primarily of the Ashes. Though the presence of the single largest cricketing tournament doesn’t detract anything from the Aussie’s achievements, Sachin’s performances and accomplishments can be seen under a new light considering the number of tournaments that the Indian played over the course of his 24-year career.

–          All-round Performances: Where both, Sachin and Sir Bradman were predominantly batsmen ruling the roost over the bowlers; the former did have a better fulfilling stint as an all-rounder than the former. Statistics reveal that in the handful of overs that the Australian bowled (160 balls against England, West Indies, India and South Africa), he picked merely two wickets with best bowling figures of 1/8 against West Indies. In comparison, Sachin Tendulkar has bowled over 4,200 balls in tests and over 8,000 balls in ODIs picking over 40 wickets in the former and over 150 in the latter, against numerous opponents. Thus yet again bringing out the finer demarcating points between the two prodigies.

–           Attitudinal Differences: Though these have nothing to do with cricket as such, the differences in the two players’ attitudes cannot be avoided. Though both players have been called to be reserved and shy, Sachin’s inherently shy nature didn’t separate him from his peers as Sir Bradman’s introverted nature did. On the contrary, Sachin’s availability to the team was always much broadcasted casting him as the perfect mentor whereas Sir Bradman was often mistaken for being arrogant and struck-up. And this is perhaps the biggest delineating factor between Sachin and Sir Bradman that puts the Indian on a marginally upward footing than the Australian.

Whilst these differences do emerge between the two players, it cannot be denied that the eras in which the two played for their country were vastly different as well. Alongside his cricketing amassing, Sir Bradman was also a part of the Australian military during the Second World War that cast a shadow over the leading cricketing proceedings at that time. In comparison, Tendulkar’s cricketing career was largely sedate, barring for a few unforgettable blips on the radar of international peace.

Similarly, even in terms of injuries and illnesses, the Australian had to battle quite a few including depression and other war related injury that only exemplified his achievements on the cricketing circuit, accomplished after these problems. Though, it would be wrong to say that Tendulkar has had a completely injury-free career, his health problems didn’t majorly affect his performances. There again, while surgery and post-surgery rehab did force him to take time away from cricket, Sachin never seemed to be out of the cricketing picture like the Australian.

And it is because of these reasons that, despite all differentiations, there can never be a clear and concise reason for Sachin to be better than Sir Bradman, or vice versa. Since rooters of either party will never sway to the other, suffice to say, that in the circumstance, it is best to agree to disagree whilst acknowledging that both merit the pedestal of greatness in their own right.

By Shraddha

Australia v India - Second Test: Day 4

When Sachin Tendulkar came out to bat in the first innings of the second test against the West Indies, the crowd jubilantly gave him a standing ovation. It was an overwhelming moment, whose import was substantially enhanced by the fact that it could very well be the last time that the nation would get to see Sachin play in the no.4 position.

And whoever takes up the position after Sachin thus will have to step into really huge shoes considering the legacy that would have been left behind by his predecessor. Amidst the innumerable upheavals that the team has faced over the course of years – decades even – that position remained unchanged; the only beacon of constancy and hope.

Thus, for the player who would take up the mantle to play in the no.4 position post Sachin’s retirement, it would not only mean coming up with a prolific aura of his own, but doing so in as limited a time as possible. Where Tendulkar forged his reputation as one of the finest batsmen to come fourth down the batting order over a course of several innings and matches, the time-span allotted for the new batsman to make that position his own would be too less, though far more challenging.

The player will need to brave comparisons, between his style of adapting to the position and that of the iconic batting stature of his predecessor. There will be times when the uniqueness of the present will get camouflaged by the discussions of the past thanks to the latter’s qualitative longevity. But despite these challenges, if the player is able to prove his credibility, it would go on to emphasise him as the perfect successor to the realm of a cricketing legend.

Presently, it is Virat Kohli who has been unanimously picked to take over the reins of the batting position from Sachin Tendulkar. It has been a straight-forward choice so far, considering the importance of the position and the ability of the player concerned to do well to play at that position. Most importantly, the biggest positive about Virat Kohli coming in to bat at no.4 is that the position allows him to play his natural game and even dictate the match proceedings, if need may arise.

The fact that Kohli has been reasonably proficient in the test format, despite having made a recent foray into the Indian test team further emphasises his aptitude to take over from Sachin after his retirement. In the 19 matches that he has played so far, Kohli has garnered 1,178 runs at an average of about 40 runs, including four centuries and six half-centuries. These statistics suggest that he is only likely to get better with time, perhaps even going a step or two ahead of Tendulkar.

Though the latter still remains an unknown element for the present, selecting Virat Kohli to play in at no.4 would be giving him an adequate grooming period to flourish whilst ensuring that the team’s stability isn’t jostled or disturbed for the near future. Kohli’s taking over the position would also effectively balance out the team with respect to the rest of the batting order with Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Ashwin finishing the entirety of the team’s batting composition.

Considering that an all important tour to South Africa awaits the Indian team immediately after the culmination of this series, it’s imperative that the Indian team not lose its winning momentum. While the Indian team would be riding high on the back of six – successive wins, it cannot discount the home advantage that it had enjoyed all this while. For Kohli too, the South African tour will be a significant opportunity not only shaping his future as an excellent par test player, but also proving his mettle and calibre as the no.4 batsman as Tendulkar did all those years ago.