Now that 200 has been breached thrice, all three times by an Indian batsmen, I have a simple question. Was Rohit Sharma’s 200 greeted with the same aplomb as Sachin’s? A definite answer is no. And that is why Sachin Tendulkar’s numbers, especially those which came pre 2003 make them so special that no newbie, no matter who he is, can come closer to the master class.
Here are 5 reasons, simple ones why Sachin’s comparison to Virat Kohli is rank stupidity even if its done by the legendary Sunil Gavaskar.
1. Let’s start with this series since it’s a fresh one. Would look a little odd but a bowling all-rounder (If I can use the adjective for James Faulkner) won a match for his country and almost breached a total as big as 383. You know why this happened? Multiple reasons, one very important one are the latest set of ODI rules. Five fielders in the ring, two new balls, heavier bats, almost nothing on the leg-side. Add to that batsmen like Kohli and Sharma brought up in the T20 eras. ODI cricket frankly have become a joke as far as the battle between ball and bat is concerned. Even a cricket starter knows who is on the heavier side. This though wasn’t always like this. Bowlers like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Curtly Ambrose were respected. Unfortunately with rules so much bent towards the batsmen, even Dale Steyn looks clueless on most occasions.
2. You can easily compare Sachin Tendulkar with someone; unfortunately you cannot compare the times. Let’s again go to stats because this is a layman’s best excuse to blame the master. Courtesy this brilliant article on Firstpost I came to know that 300 was a mammoth total pre 2000. Only five times was it made and once you breach that number, “you win”. Let’s look at the last five games. Three out of the five times totals bigger than 300 was breached. In the last game once again had Australia not missed a plot somewhere in between and some luck would have sided with them, they could have breached 383. Cricket is no more a balanced sport. It has now become calculative and the thought is that if you have wickets in hand, you can breach any score. That is why Sachin is special. Even in days when rules were not in favor, pitches didn’t suit batting, Sachin Tendulkar would make batting look elegant and easy. Remember what happened to a Indian batting attack in Eden Garden in the 1996 WC after he got out. Or what happened in Chennai against Pakistan to all batsmen except him. It’s easy to compare, its difficult to see reasoning.
3. If you thought what am doing above was pure qualitative bullshit, I am certainly not here to do that. This point by me is surely going to burn a few Kohli die-hards who are in a hurry to make him go above Sachin. How many of Kohli’s 100’s have been abroad. 10 off 17. How many of these have been in testing conditions outside the subcontinent, a paltry four, not even 25%. Tells a lot about where the kid has played most till now. Speak of the same stats for the legend. 29 centuries scored abroad, almost the same ratio but where he goes notches ahead is 18 out of these have come in testing conditions outside the sub-continent. Plus 6 out of these centuries of Tendulkar have come in the slow tracks of Sharjah with highly hostile crowds and facing above quality Pakistani and Aussie attacks. Two of these have come in Pakistan. Do I need to speak more.
4. Since it is getting interesting, lets take the number game a notch further up. Sachin Tendulkar has scored 18 centuries off his 29 (62%) against high-quality oppositions (discounting Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) where as Kohli has scored just four out of his 10 (40%) against anything above Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Frankly I do not remember Kohli playing a gem outside India except that one against Sri Lanka at the small ground at Hobart. Let’s be fair, he is nowhere close in numbers too and with the South Africa tour arriving soon, we will all know what it takes to score tons against quality opposition. Don’t take me wrong. Am not gunning anyone down, frankly I know I cannot. I am just putting forth some facts.
5. Lastly, Sachin Tendulkar in addition to being a wonderful batsman was also a mind-blowing cricketer, a magician. He was a captain’s answer to anything. A field setting, a wicket to be taken, or a brilliant run-out or catch. Remember the one which disturbed Moin Khan’s timber in Pakistan in the last over of the day or the leg-before of Hayden and Gilchrist in Kolkata or even the Hero-Cup semi-final against South Africa where he did not allow the opposition to score 6 runs in the final over. These are just a handful I remember now of a dozen or more performances. The catch to dismiss Inzamam-ul-Haq in that ODI series in Pakistan is special in the words of the then bowler Murali Kartik. Probably he was the only one who could have done so much and he never disappointed.
Frankly, I can give zillions of such numbers to justify that this comparison between Sachin and Virat is not justified for the 24-year-old Virat himself because the numbers in front are so behemoth that the sheer pressure of those can break his career down. I hope he does succeed in breaking a few of the master’s records but to be fair to him, he won’t be able to even match a few. Lastly as my fellow author wrote here, “The man will be gone on 18th November 2013. Leaving behind a plethora of memories, some captured in the negative roll of a camera, some etched in the hearts of the people, and some that will choke you forever”. These memories came because only he was capable of such magnificent memories.
With LOVE, a massive Sachin Fan.