Thursday, July 26, 2007
Seniors vs juniors? Not really
It's interesting that the seniors have come under so much scrutiny after the near defeat in the Lord's Test. Kapil Dev has pointed out again that Sachin Tendulkar has rarely delivered under pressure. The Times of India compiled a list of his second innings knocks in an 18 year span, with the startling revelation that not once in this long career has the 'world's greatest batsman' ever scored even a fifty in the second innings of any Test India has won. The closest he ever came to taking India home to victory was in Chennai against Pakistan, but after a magnificent 136, with just 15 more runs for India to clinch what would have been one of its greatest victories, he tried to thump Saqlain Mushtaq over his head for a six, fell for the doosra, and holed out with a leading edge to Wasim Akram at mid-off. Why didn't he just collect the remaining runs in singles, instead of playing to the gallery? Captain Azharuddin was asked the question in a post-match conference, and his diplomatic reply was that one couldn't really have asked more of Sachin. Well, more and more people are asking now if we have got too little from the 'Little Master 2.0'. The original Little Master Sunil Gavaskar, we know, scored a century in that great run chase of over 400 to give India a famous win at Port of Spain against Clive Lloyd's team. Of course, an innings like that comes once in a lifetime, and perhaps it is churlish of us to ask why Tendulkar has never had one. But more than how many he got Lord's, what disappointed was the manner of his dismissals. In the first innings he fell to his now familiar bogey of playing across the line to a straightforward inswinger from Anderson. I suspect he keeps getting bowled or LBW these days because he has become a collector of runs on the onside, working the ball with his right arm, because driving would put too much strain on his dodgy left elbow. In the second innings, he again fell LBW, this time to a straightforward armer from Monty Panesar. He was tentative, and didn't stick his bat-pad far enough forward outside off-stump. But the most interesting aspect of this recent criticism of 'seniors' is that it clubs all the four - Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman - together. Now the clamour is that Yuvraj Singh should be in the team, and by inference that means he should take the place of one of the seniors. It can't be Dravid, the captain, who will make way for him in spite of failing to get to double figures in either innings. Surely dropping superhero Sachin is out of the question although he got only 53 in all. So the axe has to fall on either Laxman or Ganguly by default. That I find unpalatable. Laxman has just got back in after a layoff, he did get one run more than Tendulkar, and the ball from Temlett that got him in the second innings did keep low. As for Ganguly, who has become the favourite whipping boy, he got 74 - that's more than any other player in the team except Dhoni who got 76. Karthick and Jaffer did get half centuries, but in the two innings put together they scored 65 and 66 respectively. So really Ganguly should not be the one to sit out if we go by performance. Those who are saying that Yuvi should get in, should therefore spell it out - should Dravid or Tendulkar make way for him, or do they want Laxman and Ganguly's heads as usual? As you can see, it's really a question of seniors versus seniors.