Friday, November 06, 2009

175 vs 175? Did Tendulkar play his finest innings (175) in Hyderabad?

By John Cheeran
India lost.
Again, the winner was Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the greatest batsman in modern era. Tendulkar not only completed 17,000 runs in One-Day internationals, but played a truly magnificent innings of 175 (141 balls) in Hyderabad against Australia.
Now that we cannot debate about the outcome of the match, we are left with discussing whether the innings Tendulkar played in Hyderabad on Thursday night was his best effort in 20 years of international cricket.
Let's look at a few things.
First, let's take Tendulkar's reaction. Last night he said the knock was one of his best innings. Yes, it was. One of his best, I agree.
There are people, including Sunil Gavaskar, who, I believe, knows a thing or two about cricket, comparing Tendulkar's 175 to his 136 against in the fourth innings of a Test against Pakistan, which India lost after the great man fell.
And then there are pundits who compare Tendulkar's 175 with Kapil Dev's 175 against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup, an innings that few have seen.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but while putting an innings in context you have to look at the conditions in which it was played.
Why is it that no one is talking about how weak the Australian bowling attack was in Hyderabad? Without Brett Lee, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson, this attack was far from penetrating. Clint McKay, the man who took three Indian wickets, was playing his first ODI. And over and above, pitch was perfect for batting, a fact that has been underlined by the mere fact that Aussies posted a total of 350 in the first place. When you look at the Australian scorecard, you immediately notice that each one of the batsman -- Shane Watson (93), Shaun Marsh (112), Ricky Ponting (45) and Cameron White (57) excelled with the bat.
And about the consequence of India losing this match?
The seven-match series is still alive, though India trails 2-3.
So, the impact of Tendulkar's innings, assuming that he had taken India to victory, would have been hardly unsurpassable.
But Tendulkar played his role well, though not to perfection. I would have used the word perfection, had he remained there till the end, and struck home the winning run. Yes, cricket is a team game, others too have a role to play but we venerate Tendulkar for his innate genius and for the fact that at five feet two (5ft 5in) inches, he towers above the rest.
Regrets will be a few when Tendulkar finally walks into twilight, and not having won the fifth one-dayer against Australia in Hyderabad would not be among that list.
Yes, not having scored a triple hundred in Test cricket will rankle, though having played the most number of Test innings ever. Not having won a World Cup will blot his reputation, something that Tendulkar seems to be determined to achieve in 2011, in front of his adoring home crowd.
But 175 in Hyderabad, his greatest knock?
It was, no doubt, great entertainment. But not the best of the master batsman.
And I'm outraged when Gavaskar entertains thoughts of comparing Tendulkar's 136 against Pakistan in Chennai with the 175 in Hyderabad.
You cannot compare the oranges of one-dayers with the apples of Test cricket. By now we should realise that Test cricket, one-dayers and Twenty20 are different songs requiring different timbres, though some sing all three of them with ease and elan.
And now, the question of 175 vs 175.
Kapil Dev's 175 was not just Kapil's best innings in a long career but when it was played (1983) it stretched the possibilities of counter attack in a 60-over one-day international. For sheer impact, no innings in international cricket comes closer to Kapil's 175, since that innings led to India's World Cup triumph, an achievement unparalleled in Indian cricket.
And to know that Tendulkar would have quit playing the game by now, had he lifted a World Cup to kiss!

2 comments:

Amar said...

But then Kapil himself says this 175 is better than his own!
And precisely because you say "And over and above, pitch was perfect for batting, a fact that has been underlined by the mere fact that Aussies posted a total of 350 in the first place. When you look at the Australian scorecard, you immediately notice that each one of the batsman -- Shane Watson (93), Shaun Marsh (112), Ricky Ponting (45) and Cameron White (57) excelled with the bat."
this innings is all the more important because there is a huge target, tremendous pressure and to make matters worse, none of Indian batsmen played like the Aussies and yes, its a night game.

And whether we should actually factor in result of this match and the subsequent result of the series to judge whether this is Tendulkar's best knock is debatable. After all, there are technical details, what shots he played, how and what is the support he got, and whether he was chasing etc..When we actually sit to judge, I wonder why almost everyone talks abt result and not the toil, the beauty of the innings. Are we not misisng the woods for the trees?

jc said...

I think the current debate is prejudiced in not debating about the caliber of the innings actually.

I find it foolish to rate an innings for the trophy it has been played for.(so forget cursing if its not world cup 1983) .

This innings was far better off in terms of technique. And what makes it better is the intelligent aggression to supplement(i.e never forget the technique which is what makes it beautiful ) with.

He was so much always within the required rpos.

The temperament (India was chasing)
was divine.The same way as was Sehwag's against Aussies (2003).

The worst comment though is Sachin in context with a world cup he has not won.He needs not a trophy more if he plays for fame or personal glory. Great cricketers seldom do.Kapil continued to play even after World Cup. Till a time good cricket was there in him. Same goes for Sachin too. I do admit that being in a squad that wins world cup will matter to him the most. But never to stop playing cricket.

If you rate it just by the aggression, compare Kapil with Afridi.I think its an honour for both have them (Sachin and Kapil),having kapil admit that this innings was better than his.

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