Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tendulkar's irresistible second coming

Over the last three years he has, quite magically, turned back the clock, displaying the intensity, hunger and sheer genius that many thought had been lost forever

The last 34 months have been quite extraordinary for Sachin Tendulkar. In the couple of years preceding them, there had been serious questions asked about his form, his reflexes, and his appetite for the game. There was the acknowledgement, with more than a tinge of sadness, that Tendulkar's mind and body were inevitably giving in to years of constant wear and tear, and that the kind of innings we witnessed during his glory days would only rarely, if ever, be repeated.

How wrong we were. Quite magically Tendulkar has turned back the clock, displaying the intensity and hunger many thought had been lost forever. The result has been a stunning sequence of scores: 10 centuries in the last 12 months in international cricket, including three of his four highest ODI hundreds, and the first double-century in 2962 one-day internationals. His last eight innings in all international cricket read as follows: 105*, 16, 143, 7, 100, 106, 4, 200*. Among other things, it shows his all-consuming desire to convert his starts - every time he has topped 20, he has gone on to a century.

The table below shows just how incredible his revival has been. In 14 Tests from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2006, he scored one hundred from 22 innings, and the average had dropped to less than 34. His ODI form was equally disappointing during this period: an average similar to his Test number, and a strike rate of less than 80.

Since the 2007 World Cup, though, the numbers present a far more cheerful picture: in 58 ODIs the average has zoomed past 50, with the strike rate touching 90. His Test form has been equally delightful - an average of almost 60, with 12 centuries from 34 matches.

Tendulkar's slump and his revival Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Tests - Jan 2005 to Dec 2006 14 711 33.85 47.14 1/ 4
Tests - May 2007 onwards 31 2779 59.12 56.76 12/ 11
ODIs - Jan 2005 to Dec 2006 32 1040 35.86 77.15 3/ 5
ODIs - May 2007 onwards 58 2751 51.90 89.20 5/ 16

Since the end of the 2007 World Cup, Tendulkar is one of only three batsmen to average more than 50 in ODIs; MS Dhoni and Michael Hussey are the others. Combining the average with a strike rate of 89.20, Tendulkar's ODI batting index (average multiplied by runs per ball) is 46.29, with only Virender Sehwag and Dhoni having a better index.

Best ODI batsmen since April 29, 2007 (Qual: 1500 runs) Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate Ave x SR/100 100/ 50s
Virender Sehwag 51 2094 42.73 124.71 53.29 4/ 11
MS Dhoni 92 3424 57.06 85.45 48.76 5/ 23
Sachin Tendulkar 58 2751 51.90 89.20 46.29 5/ 16
Chris Gayle 42 1560 45.88 97.07 44.54 4/ 9
Suresh Raina 53 1553 45.67 97.18 44.38 3/ 12
Michael Hussey 63 2112 50.28 86.13 43.31 0/ 18
AB de Villiers 54 1941 46.21 88.63 40.96 4/ 12
Shane Watson 38 1571 46.20 86.93 40.16 4/ 7

Tendulkar's Test average puts him in sixth place in a list dominated by Sri Lankans and Indians. Three Indian batsmen have a higher average than his, which indicates how good the going has been for India during this period. And while plenty has been written about Gambhir, Sehwag and Tendulkar, the performances of VVS Laxman have gone relatively unnoticed, even though he averages a touch higher than Tendulkar.

Best Test batsmen since April 29, 2007 (Qual: 2000 runs) Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Mahela Jayawardene 25 2831 72.58 11/ 6
Kumar Sangakkara 24 2485 67.16 9/ 10
Gautam Gambhir 18 2114 66.06 8/ 8
Virender Sehwag 24 2536 61.85 7/ 9
VVS Laxman 30 2258 59.42 5/ 16
Sachin Tendulkar 31 2779 59.12 12/ 11
Hashim Amla 30 2645 58.77 9/ 12
Michael Clarke 31 2604 56.60 9/ 12

Even more than the averages, what's been stunning is the rate at which Tendulkar has been adding to his century tally. Not so long ago, Ricky Ponting was closing in on Tendulkar's mark, especially in Tests. However, Tendulkar has opened up a handy lead once again, scoring six Test centuries in the last year even as Ponting's form has dipped. The gap between their Test hundreds is now eight, while the overall difference is an unbridgeable 25.

Since that 2007 World Cup, Tendulkar has scored a century every 6.53 innings (combining all international cricket). Only Thilan Samaraweera, with six Test centuries in 32 innings and two ODI hundreds in 15, has a better rate. Tendulkar's Test rate of 4.50 innings per hundred has been bettered by just three batsmen during this period (among those with at least six Test hundreds): Mahela Jayawardene (3.82; 11 hundreds in 42 innings), Gambhir (4.25; eight in 34) and Kumar Sangakkara (4.44; nine in 40).

Best innings-per-100 ratios in all international cricket since April 29, 2007 (Qual: 8 centuries in all international matches) Batsman Innings Hundreds Inngs per 100 Tests - Inngs per 100 ODIs - Inngs per 100
Thilan Samaraweera 47 8 5.88 5.33 7.50
Sachin Tendulkar 111 17 6.53 4.50 11.40
Hashim Amla 74 10 7.40 5.56 22.00
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 82 11 7.45 5.29 7.75
Tillakaratne Dilshan 103 12 8.58 4.57 10.20
Jacques Kallis 97 11 8.82 4.90 40.00
Gautam Gambhir 125 14 8.93 4.25 12.17
Graeme Smith 99 11 9.00 5.44 17.50

So impressive has Tendulkar's run been recently that it's been suggested this is his best streak ever. It isn't, but it's very close to his best. In both ODIs and Tests he has had at least a couple of such passages when he was unstoppable. Between January 1998 and December 1999, he averaged more than 55 at a strike rate of nearly 100; that was the period when he scored those two incredible centuries against Australia in Sharjah, which remain among his best ODI innings. Again, between 2001 and 2003, he had similar stats. Both these passages included the World Cup, in England in 1999 and in South Africa in 2003.

In Tests, the whole period from the beginning of 1997 to the end of 2002 was exceptional. Breaking it up into two passages, so that the number of matches is similar to the current period, it's clear that the 1997 to 1999 phase was his best, with 12 centuries in 27 Tests, bookended by outstanding hundreds in Cape Town and Melbourne. The three years immediately after that were pretty good too, with an average of almost 60, including nine centuries in 32 Tests.

Other golden runs in Tendulkar's career Period Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
ODIs - Jan 1998 to Dec 1999 56 2737 55.85 97.57 12/ 8
ODIs - Jan 2001 to Dec 2003 58 2786 59.27 88.64 9/ 14
Tests - Jan 1997 to Dec 1999 27 2735 68.37 57.51 12/ 8
Tests - Jan 2000 to Dec 2002 32 2970 59.40 56.28 9/ 12

Tendulkar's revival isn't dissimilar to Brian Lara's stunning run in his last four years in international cricket. (Though this isn't to suggest Tendulkar will quit international cricket anytime soon.) After 2003, Lara averaged 60 in 41 Tests, with 16 centuries, including hundreds in two of his last three Tests. Clive Lloyd's last 32 Tests were equally productive, fetching him 2342 runs at 61.63, well above his career average of 46.67. Steve Waugh and Graham Thorpe went out with a bang too, but these players have been exceptions. If Tendulkar continues in similar vein over the next few years, he'll join that select group as well. More than that, it'll mean we'll be in for several more special innings of the kind that he has conjured up over the last three years.

Players who shone in their last few Tests Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Brian Lara (2003 onwards) 41 4381 60.01 16/ 11
Steve Waugh (Oct 2002 onwards) 20 1327 60.31 5/ 6
Clive Lloyd (1981 onwards) 32 2342 61.63 6/ 16
Graham Thorpe (2004 onwards) 17 1192 62.73 4/ 6

Sachin becomes first batsman to score 200 in an ODI

GWALIOR: Milestone man Sachin Tendulkar re-wrote the record books on Wednesday, hammering the first double century in the history of one-day cricket to add another feather to his well-adorned cap.

The capacity crowd at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium witnessed history on Wednesday as Tendulkar, statistically the greatest batsman the game has ever seen, pushed a Charl Langeveldt delivery through the off-side and ran a single to achieve a feat which no other cricketer has achieved.

One-day international cricket, since its 1971 inception, had to wait nearly four decades to see a batsman score 200. The previous best mark was shared by Zimbabwean Charles Coventry (194 not out against Bangladesh in 2009) and Pakistan's Saeed Anwar (194 against India in 1997).

As the crowd erupted with unbridled joy, Tendulkar, tired but composed, took off his helmet, looked skyward, closed his eyes to offer a silent prayer.

His captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni came down from the striker's end to shake hands and hug him.

And as Tendulkar set on his way back to the pavilion after the completion of the Indian innings, a tumultuous celebration greeted him.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation as the entire stadium erupted in euphoria while his teammates were simply ecstatic as they clapped and hugged each other, basking in the glory of their senior teammates.

Tendulkar batted like a man with a mission on Wednesday and the South African bowlers simply had no clue where to bowl.

Once he crossed the 150-mark, the crowd anticipated something special and Tendulkar did not let them down.

A six off Roelof van der Merwe took him past Kapil Dev's 175 not out and in the next over, he hit Jacques Kallis for a four to equal his previous best of 186 not out that had come against New Zealand in Hyderabad in 1999.

The crowd got restless as Tendulkar approached the 194-run mark and a couple off Wayne Parnell saw him eclipse it.

His teammates and spectators were on the edge of their seat with a double century round the corner but with Dhoni going berserk at the striker's end and facing most of the deliveries, it was an agonising wait for all.

Dhoni took singles off the final deliveries of the 47th-49th overs and Tendulkar finally took strike with four balls left in the innings.

The first ball he received from Langeveldt was steered past point and Tendulkar ran for a single to remain unbeaten after an unforgettable unbeaten 200 that came off just 147 balls with 25 fours and three sixes in it.

It was yet another milestone for the man, who has some 30,000 international runs under his belt, including 93 centuries (47 in Tests and 46 in ODIs).

Sachin Tendulkar's 200 was an once in a life time innings. So we are reliving the magic knock as we bring to you all his 25 fours, 3 sixes and some important milestones as we dig into our ball-by-ball commentary section. Sit back and have a treat.

Four No.1 - 1.3 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, half volley outside off, Tendulkar opens the face of the bat and drives it to extra cover, beats the fielder and he's off the mark with a sensational boundary

Four No.2 - 1.4 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, poor bowling this, fuller length delivery straying on the pads, Tendulkar closes the face of the bat and flicks it to deep mid wicket, consecutive boundaries for the little master

Four No.3 - 2.6 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, he's looking in fine touch, fuller length delivery straying on the pads, Tendulkar flicks it to deep mid wicket, another boundary, the timing on that one was absolutely superb

Four No.4 - 4.3 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, trifle short and Tendulkar is quick to pick that up, goes for the full blooded pull, picks the gap to perfection, between mid wicket and square leg for another boundary

Four No.5 - 6.2 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, pitched up outside off, Tendulkar drives it on the up, clears the infield and the ball races away to the boundary square of the wicket on the off side

Four No.6 - 7.2 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, that's a cracking shot!!! a lot fuller outside off, Tendulkar gets a long stride forward and drives it to sweeper cover, that went like a rocket, reached the boundary in no time

Four No.7 - 9.1 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, fabulous shot!!! Parnell comes round the wicket, pitches it outside off, Tendulkar drives it on the off side, pierces the gap between point and cover, What an innings we are witnessing here!!

Four No.8 - 9.6 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, Oh dear!! he's done it again, fuller length delivery outside off, Tendulkar squeezes it behind the fielder at point, the ball reached the boundary ropes before Steyn could get to it

Four No.9 - 11.4 Merwe to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, straying onto the pads once again, all he needed was a tickle past short fine leg, which he does, the fielder fumbles and the ball races away for him to get past his 94th ODI fifty

Four No.10 - 14.3 Langeveldt to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, that is as effortless as it can get. It was a length delivery on middle, he just helps it over mid on, once bounce into the fence, thank you very much he says

Four No.11 - 15.2 Merwe to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, tossed up on middle, he goes inside out over cover, gets the middle of the bat and a couple of bounces into the fence, terrific batting!

Four No.12 - 19.6 van der Merwe to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, he has made the last ball count, gets to the pitch of the ball and smokes it over cover, gets enough bat on that and the ball whistles into the boundary!

Four No.13 - 21.3 van der Merwe to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, tossed up delivery down the leg, Tendulkar closes the face of the bat and tickles it down to fine leg, that one had enough bat on it to reach the ropes

Hundredth run - 27.6 Duminy to Tendulkar, 1 run, there comes the run that was needed, Tendulkar gets to his 46th CENTURY!!, this is his 4th against SA, short and wide, Tendulkar cuts it to sweeper cover

Four No. 14 - 28.1 Kallis to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, back of a length delivery on off, Tendulkar swings his arm and whacks it over mid wicket, that went to the boundary like a rocket

Four No.15 - 28.3 Kallis to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, that's one of the best shots he has played today, they've all been good though, fuller length delivery bowler a lot slower, Tendulkar lofts it over the bowler's head, straight down the ground and another boundary to his tally

Six No.1 - 31.2 Duminy to Tendulkar, SIX!!, it was nicely tossed up, he gets to the pitch of the ball and smacks him over long on, high and handsome, sails into the crowd, goes a long way back and the crowd are on their feet

Four No.16 - 31.6 Duminy to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, that was smacked over the bowler's head with immense power, had he got a hand on it, probably he would have been blown away with the ball into the boundary, fantastic batting this, has been a treat so far!

Four No.17 - 34.2 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, juicy full toss on the pads and he just helps it on its way wide of short fine leg, he knew exactly where the fielders were

Four No.18 - 34.5 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, the work of a genuis out in the centre says LSRK. Wow! That was one hell of a stroke, gets across and fetches it towards deep mid wicket, not many can pull it off like that, into the boundary in a flash

Four No.19 - 35.5 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, there is no stopping that, once that left the bat it was only heading to the boundary. Just backs away and picks up the length delivery over cover, awesome stuff!

Four No.20 - 36.4 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, this is top class stuff, vintage Tendulkar! Fetches the ball from outside off and into the mid wicket boundary, what timing, can't get better than this

Four No.21 - 36.6 Steyn to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, there is no stopping him today, that has been dismissed into the boundary over point, no respect for the bowler what so ever!

Four No.22 - 37.3 Parnell to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, at this stage it doesn't matter who the bowler is, the ball is only destined one way and that is to the boundary. Picks the ball from outside off and flicks it superbly into the vacant spaces at deep mid wicket to get past his 150

Four No.23 - 38.1 Langeveldt to Tendulkar, FOUR!!, full and wide outside off, he reaches out, opens the face of the bat at the last moment, slides it in the gap between a ring of fielders on the off side, truly classy, exceptional shot, raced away to the fence!

Six No.2 - 40.6 Langeveldt to Tendulkar, SIX!! What a shot! Tendulkar fetches a full delivery from outside off and smashes it almost effortlessly over wide long on, superb timing!

Four No.24 - 41.5 van der Merwe to Tendulkar, FOUR!! Fine shot! Full delivery on the stumps, he clears the front leg and blasts that over the bowler's head, zoomed away into the fence

Six No.3 - 41.6 van der Merwe to Tendulkar, SIX!! Tendulkar's on a roll here! van der Merwe fired this one much quicker, Tendulkar got the front foot out of the way and just bludgeoned it through the line, clearing long off with ease!

Four No.25 - 42.6 Kallis to Tendulkar, FOUR!! Doesn't miss out on this full toss! Kallis slides onto the pads and Tendulkar rolls his wrists over it nicely, placing the ball behind square to equal his highest score

The big moment when he surpassed Saeed Anwar - 45.3 Parnell to Tendulkar, 2 runs, And there it is! Tendulkar has broken the record for the highest score in an ODI, clipping the ball off his toes to backward square, pushing hard for the second and completing it...Boucher pats him on the back for his achievement...the 200 beckons!

The Seminal moment in the history of ODI Cricket - 49.3 Langeveldt to Tendulkar, 1 run, Sachin's done it! A full and wide ball, he dabs it wide of point to complete his 200, becoming the first player ever to score a double ton in an ODI...what a magnificent player! No words are enough to describe this man... maybe the following picture will!

All I can say is... I was alive when God was playing!