King of runs
The Master Blaster has braved many odds and injuries to
achieve the twin milestones of being the highest scorer in both Test and one-day cricket,
writes Abhijit Chatterjee
Sachin is applauded by Australian cricketers Peter Siddle (left), Shane Watson (centre) and captain
Ricky Ponting (right) after becoming the leading run-scorer in Test match cricket history during the first day of the second Test match between India and Australia at PCA stadium in Mohali on October 17. Tendulkar crossed Brian Laraís tally of 11,953 runs from 131 Tests. Photos AFP
Tendulkar crossed the 12,000-run mark in Test cricket during the
Mohali Test against Australia, Krish Srikkanth, chairman of the
national selection committee, said the Master Blaster should now
aim to represent the country in the next World Cup, which is
over three years away. Srikkanth was the first Test captain
under whom the 16-year-old Sachin debuted during the India tour
of Pakistan in 1989.
runs in Test cricket (in 152 Test matches) is not the only
record that the former Indian captain now holds. Sachin has
become the highest run scorer in both Test cricket and one-day
internationals (ODIs), and also the batsman with most centuries
in both forms of the game. This is a record that will take a
while to be overtaken, if it happens. Srikkanthís statement
reflects the desire of many cricket fans of the country: that
Sachin should keep on playing not only because he represents all
that is good in Indian cricket but also because he carries the
aspirations of millions of Indians, who have very few sporting
heroes to look up to.
For this desire to
be realised Sachin must be allowed his own pace and the option
of picking the matches that he would like to play in. Over the
years the continuous grind has taken a hard toll on his body.
The dedication and drive is still there, and in abundance.
However, itís his physical limitation that has and may prevent
him from going on. His very presence on the field is an asset
for the team. There may have been some lacunae in his innings as
the captain of the team but his brain is a storehouse of various
strategies about the game, which have been picked by successive
captains every time he has donned the blue cap. Sachinís
present form makes it doubtful whether any of the current
batsmen will be able to overtake
his record of 12,000-plus Test runs.
closest to this mammoth record are Indiaís Rahul Dravid at
10,341 runs from 127 games and Australian skipper Ricky Ponting
at 10,246 runs from 121 Tests. But if one were to bet on who can
overtake Sachinís record then Ponting would be the obvious
choice as he still has a lot of cricket left in him.
Master of the
- Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar scored his 5000th run against Pakistan in the Asian Test Championship Tournament in February 1999 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Pakistan won the match by 17 runs.
- He played his first World Cup match against England on February 22, 1992 at Perth. He scored 35 runs and was caught by wicket-keeper Stewart off Ian Botham. India lost the match by nine runs.
- Sachin was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999. He received the award from
President K R Narayanan.
is showing no signs of having satisfied his appetite for runs.
dominated all forms of the game, not only Test cricket and under
all type of conditions ó right from his first tour of
Pakistan, when circumstances there were far less conducive for
the visiting Indian teams than they are today. He has scored
runs in every cricketing country, on every kind of pitch and
against a variety of bowling attacks. His supremacy extends from
Test cricket to one-day to twenty20. He did not represent the
country in the inaugural World Twenty20 Championship in South
Africa. This was his own choice, because none of the Indian
selectors would like him to miss any game, be it of any form.
Test century came during the England tour in August 1990 at Old
Trafford and since then there has been no looking back. One
feels that overtaking Brian Lara as the highest scorer in Test
cricket may not have given him so much pleasure as did
overtaking his one-time team-mate and mentor Sunil Gavaskarís
record of 34 Test centuries (Sachin has notched up 39 so far)
had given him.
Nine of his
centuries have come against Australia, seven against Sri Lanka
(even if he has had an indifferent series when India toured the
island nation before the series against Australia) and six
against England. He has scored three centuries each against
Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe
while two of his centuries have come against Pakistan, where he
has a massive fan following.
shows a complete balance and poise while limiting unnecessary
movements and flourishes. He appears to show little preference
for the slow wickets, which are typical in India, and has scored
many centuries on the hard, bouncy pitches in the Caribbean
Islands and Australia. He is known for his unique punch style of
hitting the ball over square. He is also renowned for his
copybook straight drive, often completed with no follow-through.
Over the years
Sachinís batting style has undergone a change. Earlier he used
to go all out for the bowling and was not afraid to hit the ball
all over the ground. It made the job of his rival captains all
the more difficult because it was very hard to set a field for
Sachin. The Master Blaster was told to open the batting at
Auckland against New Zealand in 1994. He went on to make 82 runs
off 49 balls. Since then he has remained an automatic choice for
opening the Indian innings in one-dayers. He scored his first
ODI century on September 9, 1994, against Australia in Sri Lanka
at Colombo. It had taken him 79 ODIs to score a century. Since
then he has gone on to score 42 centuries at an average of over
Over the years
life has indeed become tougher for Sachin. Various teams have
used different tactics against him, trying to find at least one
flaw in his batting. However, he has always overcome the
challenge. His carefree strokes have become a thing of the past
and he is now more intent on building up the innings, an image
that an average cricket follower finds difficult to accept.
Injuries, too, have taken a toll on his weary body and this has
introduced a more cautious attitude to his batting. Though he
still looks quite capable of scoring match-winning runs, Sachin
does not tear the bowling apart like he used to do in his
In a country where
cricketers are virtually worshipped and where idols like Kapil
Dev and Sunil Gavaskar have played the game, Sachin has held two
generations of Indians in awe and has become somewhat of a
superhero with people willing to go any distance to see him
In 2002, Wisden
ranked him the second greatest Test batsman of all times, next
only to Sir Donald Bradman, and the second greatest one-day
international batsman of all times after Sir Viv Richards. But
that was in 2002. Now one can be tempted to rank him as the best
batsman, at least in one-day cricket, given the fact that the
one-day game is not always batsman-friendly like it was in the
days of Sir Viv Richards. Maybe a debate on the issue is called
for, especially from those who have seen both the master batsmen