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Blog by: Sharaddha

3rd Momentum ODI: South Africa v India

 

In cricket, a team’s ranking often tends to become relative varying with performances of teams in the short-term rather than on a long-term basis. The miserable performance of India in the ODIs against South Africa is an example of this disparity that has allowed several questions to be raised about the Indian team’s credibility while playing on foreign shores.

Prior to the start of the series, Dale Steyn had referred to the series as being a watershed test for India with increased expectations from the in-form Indian cricketing squad. Looking at the performance of the Indians though, the aura of superiority that the team had about it seems to have been completely obliterated.

The severity of the 2-0 loss was further exemplified given that it had been the batsmen – the stronger link of the entirety of the Indian team strength – who failed rather than the bowlers who managed to rein in the South African juggernaut as best as they could.

The 141-run and 134-run losses in the first and second ODI respectively were the result of the inability of the Indian batting order to come up with an adequate defence plan against the lethality of the South African bowlers. Or, to emphasise more pointedly, the lethality of Dale Steyn who was the pick of the Proteas’ bowling attack picking three wickets each at Johannesburg and Durban at an economy of slightly over three runs.

At both Johannesburg and Durban, India decided to field first having won the toss. The rationale behind that decision – after evaluating the pitch factor – was simple enough pinpointing towards the ease with which the Indian batsmen had chased down huge targets in tournaments prior to their South African tour. But on both occasions, India had to face a huge reality check as their openers lost their wickets cheaply and the middle-order crumbled without leaving any impact. Barring Dhoni and Kohli in the first ODI and Raina in the second, there wasn’t any Indian batsman – despite the changes to the squad – who looked like he could take the fight to the South Africans.

India’s decision to field yet again at Durban after sustaining a mammoth loss at Johannesburg also spoke about the Indian team’s underestimation of the opponents. The struggle that the Indian batsmen had to endure at Johannesburg was the tipping point that India failed to heed, even as the fate of the series hung in the balance.

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma fell miles short of what was needed of them even as Dhoni was reduced to giving platitudes about the obvious shortcomings of the team. But even though the defeat in the first ODI could have been viewed a bit more kindly given the team’s lack of preparation, it’s the manner of loss in the second ODI that grates on perspectives far more harshly.

But where the Indian team’s fortunes have been largely in doldrums, the South Africans have made merry with the gamut of opportunities that have been presented to them. Quinton de Kock name is the first that comes to mind considering that the 20-year old proved his worth to the team beyond any doubt. Three centuries in three matches not only proclaimed him to be a good batsman, but also effectively went on to seal the wicket-keeper batsman’s place in the squad for the near future.

Contributions from captain Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy sealed the batting deal for the South Africans with Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel complementing Steyn in the bowling department whose efficiency promises to be more ruthless in the forthcoming test matches.

South Africa’s win over India also raised a very significant point about the aspect of advantage that home sides are said to have over visitors in cricketing tournaments. For in each way that the rationale is deliberated upon, taking into account South Africa’s most recent home series loss to Pakistan, it only talks about the incompleteness of the Indians rather than press or negate the so-called advantage of South Africans over them which, in turn, further moots out the ranking system.

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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.

Blog by: Rohinee

India v Pakistan

As iconic as it has been, Sachin Tendulkar’s career has nonetheless seen quite a few ups and downs. Amongst these, the issue of captaincy has perhaps been the most prominent one, surprising one and all as one cricketing facet that Tendulkar was never able to master completely.

The two separate stints of captaincy at the international level may have ended the same way – with Tendulkar tendering his resignation to the disappointment of scores of his fans. But fact remains that the world got to see a different shade of Tendulkar’s professionalism in the wake of these disappointing trajectories. These insurmountable challenges didn’t take the sheen away from his persona but highlighted his humility far more brilliantly.

Both times that Tendulkar took on the mantle of captaincy; the cricketing fortunes of the nation were reeling under tremendous pressure. It came as no surprise then, that the people expected him to be the deliverance on the captaincy front just as they were used to him being the team’s rescuer at all other times of need. But where Tendulkar was able to step up to the challenge of staving off defeat on countless occasions, he seemed to be equally at loss when it came to addressing certain aspects of the team as a captain.

Not that his performance suffered though. On the contrary, his personal cricketing statistics were raised to impeccable standards. A paradox considering that even as his own, individual performances were enhanced, the team’s presentations dwindled reaching new lows that not even he could manage to salvage. There again, despite these frustrating losses, it was quite obvious that as a captain, Sachin wasn’t one to throw his weight around or go on about blaming everyone for the team’s losses. Rather, he ended up being one of those captains who shouldered the entire responsibility of all losses that the team suffered, tendering his resignation – on both occasions – without pausing to think about holding on to the title.

The ease with which he was ready to play under someone else – more specifically in the wake of his second retirement under a relative newcomer as compared to him – exemplified his prioritisation skills tremendously. His maturity shone through again, as he showed extreme prudence in stepping aside from being the captain before the position and the title could engulf him and his reputation as one of the finest cricketers.

Very few cricketers have been there in the history of the sport who have been able to navigate successfully through the pitfall that captaincy represents. Just as that, there are very few cricketers who are able to separate their set of priorities when it comes to the issue of captaincy. Many senior players – from across cricketing nations – have brought out their conflicts with other team members into the open when it has come to the subject of captaincy, which has left their fans reeling with shock and distaste. In Sachin’s case, his ability to understand his shortcomings as the team’s leader proved instrumental in ensuring the team’s balance despite the external problems that were otherwise overshadowing it.

Sachin’s timely gauged decision to step away as the captain also removed any doubts that sceptics had about his intentions. The aspersions that were cast about him shirking his responsibility and being an opportunistic cricketer were silenced for good as things slowly returned to normalcy. Especially more so, in the new millennium, as Sourav Ganguly became the team’s new captain and Sachin once again restored to his pride of place as one of the most senior members of the squad.

Never a player to covet laurels, when again offered the post of the captain when chaos once again loomed over the bastion of the Indian cricketing ranks, Sachin’s lack of reluctance to recommend a youngster’s – Dhoni’s – name for the post was not at all surprising.

By being staunch to his beliefs and by refusing to accept the tempting hand, as alluring as it was made out to be, Tendulkar brought out yet another facet of greatness by showing everyone that a true leader doesn’t need a formal title or tag. But is someone who leads by example, mentoring the younger generation and asking nothing in return. Sachin Tendulkar is a captain like none other in that regard; a true leader who deserves all the outpouring of respect and awe that’s been coming his way, and then some more.