Posts Tagged ‘sachin tendulkar’


Shridhar Pandey

Only a couple of days away from the beginning of the Test series between India and England, I realize that I have never before looked forward to a Test series with such desperation as this one. There is more than one reason behind the excitement. Whatever the score-line might read at the end of four test matches, one can rest assured that both teams will have some interesting challenges coming their way. Though this series has been constantly billed as the “revenge” series, I believe that would not affect the teams much, for they have far bigger issues at hand to deal with.

As far as the English line-up is concerned, the return of Kevin Pietersen will surely boost the morale of the side but they cannot afford to get carried away. Of late their middle order mainstay Jonathan Trott has not been able to keep up to the high standards he has set for himself over the last couple of years. Injuries to Stuart Broad and Steven Finn have given them more reasons to worry about. Nonetheless, flamboyant KP is always a force to reckon with. If he can successfully put his frailties against slow left arm bowling behind him, the English supporters will be in for a delight.

Yuvraj and Pietersen make comebacks in to their sides and their form will be watched closely by fans and selectors. Pic: NDTV

To add to that, they have not yet gotten to taste the kind of spin bowling they are about to face in the upcoming Test matches. I would not bother myself going into the details of the reason behind that (that sure is worth another story in itself). But that does bring me to an over-hyped issue about the fragility of English batsmen against spin bowling. This is not the first time they are touring the sub-continent. Neither is this the best spin attack that India has had in the recent times. So give them a break. They know what they are doing. In case they aren’t, they better do!

The Indian outfit, on the other hand, will take on a serious opposition without Dravid and Laxman for the first time in years (no offence meant to the Kiwis). This series shall prove to be the litmus Test for the likes of Gambhir, Sehwag and Zaheer. Gambhir will have to prove that he is not just good for small innings and that he can go on to score some big runs as well. Sehwag will have to make his followers believe that he has not lost his touch while Zaheer’s fitness will be tested once again.

Pujara and Kohli showed promise in the series against New Zealand. If they continue their form into this series, England sure would get a run for their money. Yuvraj has given the selectors reason enough to select him for the no. 6 spot. For some reason, he has not been able to do justice to his talent. By now he should have been a permanent member of the Indian test line-up. Ashwin will be the one to watch out for. He has done extremely well in home conditions. He might prove to be the eyesore to most English batsmen.

Inclusion of Harbhajan in the squad renders the equation pretty interesting and open to speculations. It would be interesting to see if Dhoni leaves out Harbhajan from the playing eleven to include Ojha. If he doesn’t, it would be a huge injustice to poor Ojha who did very well in the New Zealand series. Dhoni himself has a few questions to answer as far as his batting goes. A batsman of his mettle batting at no. 7 is always a huge advantage to any side provided he is in good touch – or at least in the kind of form he is in the limited overs cricket.

Moving on to the last and certainly the most talked about issue of late – would Sachin Tendulkar announce retirement after this series or maybe after the series against Australia? All these speculations have gained some credibility after Sachin himself hinted that he cannot keep playing forever (contrary to what I had been thinking for the last 16 years). He has always been known to hit back hard whenever he has been criticized. Now is one such time. How well does he come back will be a key factor in determining how long he keeps playing from now on. Though there is still some part of me that believes he would keep playing till eternity!

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Goutham Chakravarthi

Earlier today, Suresh Menon’s  article appeared in Wisden India with the heading ‘Tendulkar’s interests not same as India’s‘. This is not about my view on Tendulkar’s retirement or any retirement for that matter (of which I have already shared my view). This is more about the very headline of the article. While what much of the article around Suresh Menon’s well documented opinion of how Tendulkar’s career is now controlled by his commercial interests, I felt this time, it went from being just his opinion to a verdict or judgment of sorts – that he claims Tendulkar put his interests ahead of the India’s seemed not a mere inference of sequence of events or a likelihood. Menon was certain. He wrote, “clearly Tendulkar’s interests are no longer the same as the country’s, certainly not in one-day internationals.”

The sequence of events leading up to this article is fishy.

A sequence of events surrounding this article and coming from Wisden India now has got me thinking if there might have been an ulterior motive to him writing what he did. Read me out.

First, let’s start with Wisden India itself. Bloomsbury announced late last year their foray into India through Wisden India. This year they have now become fully functional. With an ambition ‘to be a single consolidated voice of Cricket, and to be known as the ‘Home of Indian Cricket.”, they seemed serious (It is a competitive market with Wisden India facing stiff competition from ESPNCricinfo and Yahoo! Cricket) and they roped in big names including the likes of Dileep Premachandran as Editor-in-Chief and Suresh Menon as Editor Cricketers’ Almanack.

So when almost exactly a month ago, Wisden India awarded Tendulkar with the Wisden India Outstanding Achievement award it seemed a good way market itself in the process. It was also announced that Wisden India would hold five more such dinner events involving Sachin Tendulkar over a period of three years. It was apparent that Wisden India had invested themselves in brand Tendulkar.

So when Tendulkar pulled out of the one-day series against Sri Lanka citing he needed to spend more time with his family, predictably, media space was abuzz if he ought to be able to pick and choose the series he plays in. Following the pull out, Wisden India’s when Editor-in-Chief Dileep Premachandran decided to write that selectors ought to be the ones that decided who should be picked and who shouldn’t. Here’s where things got a little fishy. At least, to me.

Surprisingly, the article appeared in the UAE based The National and not in Wisden India. Of course Dileep Premachandran contributes to The National and also The Sunday Guardian. But an article on Tendulkar and selection didn’t warrant a feature on the site that aspires to be known as the ‘Home of Indian Cricket.’

Perhaps the investors on the Tendulkar brand for three years didn’t want to jeopardize by carrying a story that seemed to sort of accept that it may not have been a wise investment. Or that it might jeopardize relationship with the player himself. Whatever it was, it appeared as though the investors got their way.

But it didn’t escape the fact that the article did appear on UAE based The National. Did it mean Wisden India would refrain from carrying out any ant-Tendulkar stories for another three years?

No, apparently not. At least from this article earlier today. Whether it means Wisden India do not want to be seen to be favouring a certain player, or if it was a case of a decorated and high-profile writer wanting to show that he couldn’t care less for his employer or their investment and would get his own back  against the both of them are all possibilities.

In any case, opinions are points-of-view based on facts and inferences. Like Suresh Menon disagreeing with Sanjay Manjrekar’s opinion that Dravid was not talented for example. Or his example that Dravid and Boycott were examples of  constructive and destructive selfishness respectively. Infering from shrewd observation like how the investment industry is linked with Tendulkar is what alalysts like Suresh Menon or Mike Atherton are very good at.

But to be certain of Tendulkar’s interest not in line with his country’s seems beyond a mere opinion. More a judgement of character. And it cannot be pinned on a player just because it appears the whole cricketing commerce revolves around him. And it sits uneasily on me more to do with the sequence of events leading up to this article.

While we want our writers to be unbiased and critique for what is best for the game, we wouldn’t want them to influence us with views that may be intended just to prove a point. Cricket is struggling enough to fight corruption, maladministration, and player agents and con men influencing player selection.

We don’t want the small circle of our best and honest writers use their power to fight their personal battles.


In this episode, The CouchExpert’s Goutham Chakravarthi, Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan and Muthukumar Ramamoorthy are joined by Wisden India‘s Assistant Editor Saurabh Somani and they discuss selection among other things on India’s A tour of the West Indies. The group and also discusses the merits of Duckworth/Lewis and VJD methods. Also in the new segment What’s in a name, a die-hard Sachin Tendulkar fan – Kaustubh Pimputkar – teaches the South Indians on the show how to say Sachin Tendulkar and other great Maharashtrian cricket names

Introduction Music: Composer and singer – Rakesh Salian

Guests: Saurab Somani, Goutham ChakravarthiMuthukumar Ramamoorthy, Kaustubh Pimputkar

Host: Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan



Goutham Chakravarthi

There is nothing wrong with this Indian team. That is if you believe in the theory that bowlers who bowl with a straight arm actually bowl with a 360-degree bend.

It was another day of what has now become the norm with the Indian team. Catches were dropped and the batting collapsed. And Clarke finds himself where Dhoni was not so long ago: his juggling of bowlers as mesmerizing as that of juggler in a circus and is easily among the three best batsmen on the world on current form. It is a far cry from not so long ago where he seemed desperate to want to earn the respect of the fans and his questions over his lifestyle.

Lyon accounted for the wickets of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Laxman. © Getty Images

On another day, Haddin would be accused of being selfish in not going for quick runs closing in on a declaration, but winning teams can afford to carry some struggling players. But not for long and Clarke’s angry declaration just minutes past lunch might have passed on that message to Haddin. If Haddin were Indian, he would have been accused of looking after his average.

Sehwag’s innings bespoke of a man trying to chase down an impossible target. But it lacked conviction. Sehwag at his best keeps out good deliveries and goes after the rest. Here, he was lucky, initially, and ultra-aggressive when he eventually skied a waist-high full-toss to get out. India needed to bat five sessions to save the Test. And the skipper didn’t show the determination he did four years ago at the same venue to do just that.

Tendulkar’s series has nose dived post Sydney. His dismissals have become tamer and today, Lyon ensured Tendulkar’s last series in Australia wasn’t going to be as profitable as his previous four tours there. And by the time a Laxman flick brought about his downfall, Lyon had proved that he had the game and the temperament to succeed. And his captain set good catching fields for him to look for wickets all the while.

And as Kohli ran himself out at the fag end of the day, India’s misery on the field seems all but over.

A young Rafael Nadal believed his uncle and coach Toni Nadal had super powers and that he could even bring in the rain as he wished. Toni promised that he would bring in the rains should Nadal look like losing. Once playing in an age group tournament, after struggling initially against a boy much older than he, Nadal seemed to get the hang of it when it started to drizzle. Nadal walked up to Toni and said that he could stop the rain because he felt confident that would beat the older boy and did just that.

May be, India’s best option is to see if they could borrow Toni for a day.


Goutham Chakravarthi

Some of the biggest names in cricket, of all time, are represented in the Indian and Australian cricket teams. Yet, as cricket chugs on to 26th January – Reuplic Day for India and also Australia Day – it is difficult to imagine many excited about cricket. With Australia also offering a colossal battle between Nadal and Federer for the 27th time, it is hard to believe cricket will be fans’ top priority even among stout Australian fans who are witnessing a great run by their team.

Rivalries elevates sport to a different level, a level that stretches physical limits and collective beliefs. Federer might have fallen off the perch and Nadal no longer the king, but when they clash, tennis reaches a level that can rival any art at its best. Australia and India always produced close contests. And the rivalry defined the highest level of cricket in the 2000s, but the last three series have been flat with the odd throwback to brilliance, but this series has been poor.

Clarke and Ponting thwarted the Indian attack for 95 overs in their near quadruple hundred stand. Photo: AP

A day, when a past champion and a young captain who currently ranks to be as good as any one going around, thwarted an attack that had plans, but none else, it looked nothing like Federer vs Nadal or Brazil vs Argentina. It did not even resemble Sampras vs Agassi on the seniors’ tour. One team had plans – Ishant bowled outside off, Umesh tried his best to rough the batsman up, Zaheer tried his various tricks and Ashwin his various spins – and constructed its points like a good tennis player would, but would find the winner coming from the opposition. Sometimes, luckily so, but mostly through sheer brilliance from the opponent.

The day belonged to a champion who is past his prime, but one who has shown ability to graft and bide his time that was considered too passe to him not so long ago. His determination, mostly, and his change in his trigger movements, to a lesser extent, have turned around his summer in to perhaps a couple more Australian summers . Sadly, neither the determination nor the desperation is to be seen in the visitors’ camp.

There is little to suggest that the Indians tried anything different in their planning or preparation in the long break between the Tests. It is clear that the routine that has not been good enough so far is being persisted with. Indians lacked plans and direction when partnerships flowered in Sydney and Perth and now here in Adelaide. Captains and bowlers seem clueless and the fielders seem a dispirited lot.

But none of those mattered to Clarke. He was earmarked as a young player with quick feet and sharp brains. His handling of his side – the veterans and the youngsters – has been remarkable. More so, he has found his best form with the bat and is having the best summer of his life. Though his batting this summer is nothing short of astonishing, it is his personality as a skipper and a leader that has outshone everything else.

As Australia Day and Australian Open beckons, as Australia and Clarke push for glory, as India’s summer spirals out of control like a Formula One car on gravel, when Gambhir and Tendulkar resume their battle, Indian fans might flip channels to see Federer or Nadal in action, but will hope, even if for a fleeting moment, that they see a fight. Not a Tendulkar rampant half-century, but a grinding and stone-walling ton. Not a Gambhir with flashing blade and a loose mouth, but a stodgy and determined Gambhir. Not a Laxman with the languid drive and an airy flick, but the Laxman who produces his best when his team needs him the most. The rivalry is no longer Federer-Nadal class, but should it even match the Sampras-Agassi levels in a seniors’ tournament, it might be worth the while. The hope of putting up a fight is all that remains.