Sachin Tendulkar scored his first IPL century only to see his team lose against Kochi
Sachin Tendulkar scored his first IPL century only to see his team lose against Kochi

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

When Sachin Tendulkar scored his first T20 century, he proved yet again that it is never too late for anything. Almost 38 he plays with the enthusiasm of a 16 year old. His performances continue to defy logic as he has mastered T20s as well. Who said T20 is a young man’s game?

 

A lot has been said or written about Sachin Tendulkar and yet words fall short when you want to describe the man. When India won the World Cup, we all said that this (World Cup) was the only thing he did not have and almost two weeks later he scores a T20 century to tell us that he wants to explore new territories. The T20 century comes nowhere close to the World Cup win with regards to the satisfaction it gave to him and the entire nation, but it does ask us a question: What next can we expect from him? I wouldn’t venture to guess and will leave it for him to answer.

 

Since the World Cup match against England where Tendulkar scored a magnificent 120, many fans in the cricketing world have been saying that whenever he scores a hundred India doesn’t win the match. The loss to South Africa added fuel to this fire. And when the Mumbai Indians couldn’t defend 183 against the Kochi Tuskers Kerala, it may became a much stronger belief.

 

When I hear such suggestions linking the defeats to the great man’s tons, I laugh and dismiss them as baseless. He has 99 international hundred to his name and it is obvious by the law of averages that all of them would not come in winning causes and that there would be a few disappointments. The sheer number of hundreds he has scored is immense and it is logical that a few of them which have come in losing causes would be a significant number.

 

In One-Day Internationals, he has 48 hundreds to his credit. Thirteen of them have come in matches where India could not get across the finishing line. One was scored in a washed out game at Durham against England and one was in the infamous tie in the recently- concluded World Cup. Leaving out these hundreds, a mindboggling 33 have come in matches won by India.

 

No other batsman in world cricket has scored 33 ODI hundreds and Tendulkar has scored that many in winning causes alone! The batsmen with the most hundreds in ODIs after Tendulkar is Ricky Ponting with 30 to his name – three less than Tendulkar’s hundreds in just the matches won by India!

 

In Test matches, Tendulkar reached the magical mark of 50 tons late last year against South Africa and added one more to that tally in the New Year’s Test at Cape Town. Out of his 51 hundreds, eleven have been scored in matches lost by India. Twenty have come in victorious causes and the remaining has been in drawn matches. Some of the hundreds in drawn games have come at a time when saving the game was the need of the moment. For example, his first hundred at Manchester in 1990, 146 early this year against South Africa, 100 vs Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad in 2009 where he batted the whole fifth day… and the list goes on.

 

Jaques Kallis, who comes second on the list of the players with most centuries in Test matches, has 40. To put things in perspective, Tendulkar has scored 40 centuries in wins and drawn Tests alone.

 

It’s normal human tendency to remember the negative instances and not consider the weights of the positives, however heavy they may be. Thus, the recent trend of Tendulkar’s winless hundreds has made some fans recall the instances where his tons couldn’t take India to victory. Instead, we must look at the number of hundreds that have come in matches won by India and tell ourselves that it is a matter of time before a Tendulkar hundred wins a game.

 

Similar to the current phase, there was a time when Tendulkar’s four consecutive ODI hundreds had come in losing causes. He scored four ODI hundreds from 2004 to 2006 and India couldn’t win on any occasion. This trend was broken early in 2007 when his 100 off 76 balls set up a huge target for the touring West Indies.

 

On many occasions, the hundreds in losing causes have come in tight games where he has single-handedly kept India’s hopes alive. Who can forget the heartbreaks of Chennai 1999 and Hyderabad 2009! Such occasions proved to the world that, no matter what, cricket is always a team game and even the greatest of players need the other ten in the team to contribute.

 

Tendulkar’s last three tons haven’t produced the results he would have liked. I say it is just a phase similar to the one he experienced from 2004 to 2006. His conversion rate these days is better than what it was then as he was hampered by the tennis elbow. With so many runs flowing from his bat, a hundred with the right result is just around the corner. Fans, be patient, it is coming soon!

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)

 

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