Archive for the ‘sachin tendulkar’ Category

The glitch in Sachin’s matrix

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Bradman Fails Again. Hobbs Fails Again. The 2011 version: Sachin Fails Again.

The Little Master failed – again – to reach that hundredth-hundred milestone, falling just 6 short in India’s first innings at Mumbai. Upon his dismissal, more mundane matters came to the fore, such as India avoiding the follow-on. In the event, the match transformed into a last-day thriller that saw a draw with scores level. But when India’s series against Australia starts at the MCG on Boxing Day, the hype will pick up where it left off, all over again.

Of course the hype is deserved. But at the moment it is a false reality, and it is obscuring everything else.

In the iconic mind-bender The Matrix, Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, sees a black cat walk past a doorway. A second later he sees another – exactly the same animal. It is not a case of deja vu as he (erroneously) supposes; it is the machines that control the world making a subtle change to the artificial reality they impose on mankind.

The only machine at work behind Sachin’s glitch of getting out 28 times in the nineties is a fear of failure precipitated by the pressure of expectation and the importance we give to statistics in a number-obsessed sport.  But the reality is that while the hype around Sachin’s next century continues, the Indian team are Tendulkar plus 10 men. The spectacle of people leaving the grounds when Sachin gets out, or the next man in walking to the middle in complete silence – even when this man is the captain – cannot long continue. Indian cricket grounds are where spectators go to watch Sachin, not necessarily the Indian team, or even Test cricket.

I am sure Tendulkar realises this, and it’s probably not making his quest for that elusive ton any easier. In a sport where only 6 runs short of a hundred is regarded as a failure, it would be churlish to call this a slump, or the beginning of the end of an extraordinary career.

But at some point the handover to the new galacticos will have to occur, and while Indian cricket is stuck in the never-ending loop of waiting for that hundred, it’s unfairly obscuring the achievement of the side’s young talent and relegating the team’s future to that of secondary importance, a mere side-show to the all-singing, all-dancing main event.

Ravichandran Ashwin has been blamed for not securing victory for India in Mumbai in his failure to attempt a second run, but 103 and 9 wickets have ensured Harbhajan Singh isn’t going to be recalled in a hurry.

Varun Aaron, whose feet probably haven’t touched the ground since receiving his Test cap, could turn out to be India’s Glenn McGrath. Already he has shown refreshing maturity in recognising that speed isn’t everything.

Virat Kohli, under pressure to protect his place from Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, showed toughness to go along with that undoubted talent with his second-innings 63. Kohli, unlike Neo, might not know kung-fu – and he might not be The One – but he is starting to believe.

It would be wonderful if Sachin raises his bat at the MCG. That hundredth hundred we are all waiting for will be worth celebrating when it comes, but in and of itself the figure is an artificial construct and the waiting has imposed on us an artificial reality. We are in limbo, and cannot move forward. Kohli, Aaron, Ashwin: these guys are the future.

Rahul Dravid accepts he has always laboured in Sachin’s shadow. Once Tendulkar gets past his glitch – and fans come to an acceptance that he won’t be around forever – the next generation of Indian stars will hopefully be free to begin constructing their own reality.

England and the Turkey Baster of Test Supremacy

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

It’s cool that you get an actual trophy for being the world’s number one Test side.

That the ICC, in its wisdom, found it suitable to bestow on the reigning table-topper a mace which looks more like a tent peg, majorette’s baton, turkey baster, or artificial inseminator used on a cattle farm, does admittedly tend towards a more “what the heck is this?” reaction, rather than, “wow, this’ll look great on the ECB mantelpiece”.

This is of course not helped by an image of Kevin Pietersen, in the England dressing room at yesterday’s close of play, brandishing it whilst clothed only in a towel and not looking at all camp in the slightest.

Anyhoo, England are number one. Day 5 at the Oval, the last day of the English Test summer, proved to be a slightly tense affair, at least during the morning session. For the first time this series India, following on, managed to last an entire session without losing a wicket, but when Amit Mishra finally fell after lunch for a valiant 84, the end was swift in coming.

Graeme Swann, who has already had the death knell sounded prematurely on his career by at least one journalist alert to his relative paucity of wickets lately, roared back into the spotlight he so adores with a six wicket haul. England’s batting had again been rock solid as the batsmen made the most of a flat deck prior to its last day disintegration and Swann’s rampage.

Sachin Tendulkar, more likely unsettled by Mishra’s wicket rather than the prospect of being out in the 90s for the ninth time in his Test career, fell on 91 to a brave lbw decision given by umpire Rod Tucker, who even now is probably fleeing the country having changed his name to “Todd Rucker” and wearing comedy beard and glasses to avoid recognition. It was a marginal decision, but the correct one – even had lbw referrals been allowed in this series, Hawk Eye would have shown the ball clipping the top of leg stump.

While not quite as invested in the cult of Tendulkar as so many are, I have to admit to mixed feelings on the Little Master failing in his bid to bag that hundredth hundred in these Tests.

Had he reached that ton, the talk would have been on nothing else. It is, fundamentally, a contrived statistic – “52nd Test century” would not have sounded as significantly monumental – and scored in the context of a series lost 4-0, especially when placed against Rahul Dravid’s epic, battling first-innings 146*, it would have meant very little.

Coming at the end of a Test series in which India managed to score 300 only once – exactly that and no further – as one player after another fell by the wayside due to injury and unfitness, as the world’s erstwhile number one collapsed like a bloated behemoth under the weight of its own hubris against a side hungry, honed and ready for the kill… a Tendulkar milestone under these circumstances would have provided only bathos in a series that’s been nothing from India’s point of view but a long extended failure.

Worse, it would have overshadowed the bright light of Rahul Dravid’s star which has shone undimmed through this series, along with flashes of spark from Praveen Kumar (what a lion-hearted character he is). No doubt it would also have been used to go some way towards papering over the cracks of India’s many failings.

Good umpiring, as Rod Tucker demonstrated, is no respecter of reputations. And neither is this England team.

I can’t help, though, but wonder whether this is simply a blip on India’s part, or the outward manifestation of a more insidious decay. While the team is on the verge of straddling that uncomfortable territory known as “transition”, with its galacticos looking towards retirement sooner rather than later, and its young hopefuls still inexperienced and making their way, I doubt anyone could ever have foreseen them being on the receiving end of such a thorough hammering. Kris Srikkanth, India’s chief selector, has been quoted as saying of his selection committee, “I can proudly say that we have done a good job” – uncomfortably reminiscent, not only of the band playing blithely on while the ship is busily humping an iceberg, but of Andrew Hilditch’s similarly self-deluded sentiment in the wake of Australia’s last Ashes drubbing.

While the England lads are no doubt nursing well-deserved hangovers, there remains a salutary lesson in all of this. Ian Botham thinks England can be number one for at least the next 8 years. The fall from the number one spot may come sooner than one would like, due to reasons entirely outwith England’s control: South Africa have Test series coming up against Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, the first two of which will be at home. England do not play another Test till January.

There is also the small matter of ODIs, a format England have hardly excelled at of late. Prior to a five-match series against India, England play Ireland on Thursday, with many senior players being rested, including the captain, Alastair Cook. It’s understandable that the bowlers, especially, should be given a break, and I’m excited at the fact James Taylor has received a call-up, but the inexperienced nature of the squad (Mike Atherton, in an understandable slip of the tongue, referred to it the other day as the Lions squad, ten of whom have been included) has rather pissed Ireland off.

This is not surprising when not only are England resting Cook and other key players, but Eoin Morgan, an Irishman, will be captaining them. The match also seems to be a glorified fitness test for Jonathan Trott, who appears to have recovered from his shoulder injury. All this on top of the fact England were soundly thrashed the last time these two sides met, and you could forgive the Shamrocks for thinking that the latest England tactic consists of “thinly-veiled insult”.

This match has “banana skin” written all over it. As long as Taylor gets a ton, I’m not too fussed.

But if you are an England fan, you’re already resigned to England being shit at ODIs.

By the grace of Flower’s canny management and the team’s superlative performances, it seems England have ascended to the lofty heights of Test supremacy. Rather than fret over hyperbole, ODIs, talk of “sporting dynasties” and what may happen in the future, I am content, at least for the next couple of days, to savour the fine wine of victory and watch endless repeats of the highlights.

It’s still a daft looking trophy, though.

Five days and one moment

Monday, July 25th, 2011

If Andrew Strauss sounded a little hoarse in the post-match presentation today, that is understandable. No doubt the result of much appealing, it was probably even more down to celebration, as England made sharp, clinical work of scything down India’s second innings to wrap up a historic 2000th Test match.

It’s been five days of ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and unexpected detours along the way. It’s seen scintillating batting and superb bowling from England and an India weakened by injury and absence and doing the best with what it had only to find England far too strong an opponent.

Above all, it’s shown that rather than the twitching corpse many alarmists would have you believe  Test cricket resembles – and that’s not to say there isn’t rightly concern for its future – it is capable of climbing off the canvas, kneeing you in the balls to get your attention, and making you forget every meaningless ODI and T20 you’ve ever been exposed to.

That’s not to say the shorter forms don’t have their place – and it’d be churlish of me to take too much issue with T20 considering Leicestershire are doing rather well in that format right now – but Test cricket remains the very greatest format the sport has to offer. Preferring Test cricket does not make you boring, uncool or an antediluvian dinosaur stuck in an ivory tower (not, of course, that there is anything wrong with this).

It means you want to see the best cricketers in the world being judged on their abilities to perform at the highest level. It means paying attention rather than instant gratification; it means witnessing moments of greatness or disappointment, or even sometimes moments of farce and anticlimax, but all of these are threads in a tapestry you can only truly admire by stepping back and viewing them in the context of the whole.

If this sounds a tad precious, I apologise. Like most cricket lovers I’ve spent hours trying to explain my love for cricket; sometimes, I’ve even managed to succeed. Tests like this sure make my job easier.

That’s not, however, to say it was a classic meeting of equals. India did not look like the number one side. Undercooked through lack of preparation, missing their star opener, their lead bowler hors de combat and the continuation of Sachin’s Lord’s hoodoo (34 in the first innings, 12 in the second) meant England always looked the better side. With a few exceptions, the galacticos could hardly be described as having performed well as a unit, and they will be hoping Zaheer Khan will at least be back for Trent Bridge where he performed so well in the Jellybeangate Test of ‘07, snaffling 9 wickets and a deserved Man of the Match award.

From the hard slog of Day One, to KP’s all-banners-flying double ton on Friday, with Ian Bell and Matt Prior in support; golden boy Stuart Broad regaining his lustre; Matt Prior’s rescue-mission ton after the wobble caused by a resurgent Ishant Sharma; Jimmy Anderson’s five wicket haul, his 11th in Tests and his third at HQ… We had drama, controversy (oh, for a full DRS!), queues since 2AM stretching down the Wellington Road and Tendulkar causing a near-riot as he came back from a net session before the start of play…

I love Test cricket so much right now, I should probably be served with a restraining order.

Tendulkar in the field, Day One

Tendulkar in the field, Day One

But. India are not the number one team for nothing. They may have the unfortunate habit of losing first Tests in series, but a two-match margin of victory for England is far away still.

India needed only 73 runs in their second innings to win at Trent Bridge the last time these teams met there. Tendulkar scored 91 in the first innings. The year after that, 2008, the new stand went up, with the resultant microclimate helping the ball to hoop round corners. Jimmy Anderson could run riot here, Tremlett has excellent form against India at this ground, and India will be praying Zaheer Khan is fit.

The best is yet to come.

One last thing. If I were told tomorrow that I’d be stricken with total amnesia regarding this match and that I would only be allowed to remember one moment from it, despite England’s superb victory, I’d choose to remember a shot played by a batsman on the losing side. That shot was Rahul Dravid’s airborne punch through extra-cover that took him to 98: daylight between feet and ground, every muscle tensed like a Bernini statue brought to life, a perfection of balance and timing with the added flourish that makes cricket-porn tragics like me take a long, deep and satisfied breath: the hot-spot replay showing the white heat signature bang in the middle of the blade.

The past five days have showcased everything that is great about Test cricket. And sometimes, true greatness comes distilled in a single moment.

And… I’m spent.

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Andrew Strauss wasn’t kidding when he said England tend to raise their game against bigger opponents than the Netherlands. Only trouble is, he may as well have added, “We are England, so nothing is ever that that straightforward”.

It seems appropriate that this game against India would end in a tie, given the similarities between the two sides with both bat and ball. Sehwag gave three chances in the first over and then got out for 35; Tendulkar, making history yet again, made his 5th World Cup ton (his 98th international hundred – age shall not dim him, the years not weary him). India were past 300 before Tim Bresnan took 3 quick wickets and they were all out for 338.

In England’s reply, they were level on runs with India after five overs. Pietersen, still working on his strategy as an opener, made 31, while Andrew Strauss played a captain’s innings and then some with a magnificent 158. We were treated to Ian Bell bizarrely playing the Yuvraj role  – chipping in with an aggressive half century and providing able support for his team’s top scorer.

Just when it seemed an England victory was nailed on, and Indian fans were streaming from the ground – the fools – Zaheer Khan steamed in to take three quick wickets and turn the match. A desperate, almighty six from Ajmal Shahzad straight down the ground, two needed off the last ball, and throats being screamed raw at the Chinnaswamy as Shahzad and Graeme Swann ran like Forrest Gump stricken with the shits and sprinting for the nearest khazi. (Which reminds me – get well soon, Stuart Broad.)

All this, and we’re still only in the group stage.

India will be worried by the fact they could not defend 338. Andy Flower, judging by his expression while those around him on the balcony clapped and cheered, will be wondering why the hell England didn’t win.

We are nine days into this World Cup, and while only yesterday I was musing that this tournament has yet to bore me, now, it is properly exciting me.

Is this thing switched on? Why yes. Yes it is.


Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

On 2nd November, 1877, Victor Trumper was rocketed to Earth as a baby from the planet Krypton to land behind Charles Trumper’s boot factory.

He was only on this earth for 37 years but he changed cricket forever.

Next January, sometime during the last Test of the 2010-11 Ashes series, I will stand at his graveside and pay tribute.

The series might be over by then. Much ink, actual and digital, has already flowed under the bridge on the subject of who might win. England have the best chance in many years, some say; others point out Australia are never a side to be underestimated. Everyone has an opinion.

Everyone has an opinion over the greatest cricketer who ever lived, too. Most say Bradman, some say Tendulkar; others – hopeless romantics like me – say Trumper.

Cricket will always be more than just about stats. Cricket needs its innovators as much, if not more, than its run-getters, and its wicket-takers.

Trumper was nothing if not an egalitarian – preferring attack to defence, he treated all bowlers alike. Men like Sehwag carry on the legacy that Trumper left behind.

The biggest part of my love for cricket is my love for Victor Trumper.

Happy birthday, Vic.

Australia lose, and Warne weighs in

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

There were only ever going to be two ways this Test would end.

Wickets would either fall today like corn before the scythe, or the Indian team would bowl out Australia’s tail early and then chase down the runs needed to win with relentless superiority.

Today at Bangalore it was the latter. Bowled out for 223, Australia presented India with a target of 207 to win and this they did, without undue incident, for the loss of only 3 wickets. Bit of a stark contrast to the oxygen-starved tension of Mohali, but I did say yesterday that the unknowables are what make Test cricket great.

In this case, one of those unknowables, or unknowns, more precisely, was Indian debutant Cheteshwar Pujara. The 22 year old came in at 3 after the loss of Sehwag and proceeded to bat with a combination of freedom and maturity that bodes well for the future when India find themselves in the same situation Australian cricket did three years ago when Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist retired.

He went for 72 and it was left to those two redoubtable old stagers, Tendulkar and Dravid, to bring it home. In this match Sachin has made history – again – and so it was fitting that he scored the winning runs, giving India victory at a ground they last won on in 1995, and solidifying India’s lead at the top of the Test rankings.

If your name was Nathan Hauritz, you probably found you were in a nightmare from which you couldn’t wake up. I will be surprised if the selectors keep him after this, and I too was one of many who held their head in their hands every time he came on and an Indian batsman’s eyes lit up.

It was like watching a game of buzkashi, where the batsmen were the horsemen and Hauritz was the headless goat corpse being torn apart between them in the battle for possession.

His figures were grim – 3-229 for christ’s sake, but in the cold light (or warm glow, depending on who you were supporting) of an Australian defeat, let’s look at things a tad more sensibly. Firstly, the conditions are always tough in India. Hell, even Warne’s record there is average: only 34 out of his total of 708 wickets were taken in Tests in that country, and the only time he took more than 4 wickets in an innings it cost him 125 runs.

Secondly, Ricky Ponting’s captaincy betrayed an utter lack of faith in Hauritz. Fielders were scattered in the deep, moved into positions only after that area had been targeted. It was passive and defensive captaincy with fields set for bad bowling: not the best way to give your bowler confidence.

One man especially riled by this cruelty to his spinning brethren was Shane Warne – currently between poker tournaments and no doubt on a plane somewhere – who let rip on Twitter with:

It’s tough to disagree with this sentiment. Ponting’s captaincy has received much scrutiny since the days when, due to having Warne and McGrath at his disposal, the team pretty much captained itself. At best, some of his decisions have looked random; at worst, downright fucking stupid.

One can argue till the cows come home about the merits of Nathan Hauritz as a Test spinner. His favourite line seems to be wide of off-stump while hoping the ball will turn; a lot of the time it doesn’t. He is ironically more effective when he bowls a tighter line; Ponting seems to want an Australian version of Harbhajan, but this may be a step too far.

Hauritz has, however, put in some decent Test performances when his side have needed them, and Steve Smith, the man many think he should make way for, is arguably more effective with the bat at the moment. Smith still averages about 50 as a bowler, and is very much a work in progress still. Replacing Hauritz with Smith in the Ashes may be too early. Plus, it is very unlikely Hauritz will be quite this shit on his home turf.

Nathan Hauritz must now try and pick himself up in the upcoming ODIs followed by a couple of Sheffield Shield matches for New South Wales, and put forward a convincing case for Ashes retention. No doubt everyone and his dog will have an opinion on whether he should be part of the Australian line-up at Brisbane.

The selectors certainly have a lot of thinking to do.

All (big) Guns (to go down) Blazing

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Peter George had something of a tough day at the office yesterday.

Expectations were high for the young newcomer on his Test debut. His bowling for South Australia has been called “McGrath-like”, which is uncomfortably reminiscent of the fact Phil Hughes was compared to Bradman before Steve “straight to 2nd slip” Harmison rediscovered the killer inside himself and took Hughes apart with viciously directed straight lifters in last year’s tour match at New Road.

So the boy George would have been understandably nervy when thrown the ball for the first time during the evening session of Day 2. Faced with the task of bowling at India’s galacticos, his first over was all over the bloody place and Sehwag duly took a liking to him, pasting him for 2 successive boundaries.

George did manage the one maiden in that session, and as Sachin and India marched inexorably on the next day he seemed to settle down and find his line with more consistency. He also introduced us to the slo-mo bouncer, which we all had a good laugh at, but when we’d stopped pissing ourselves realised it proved quite effective in that when he bowled it no runs seemed to be forthcoming.

It did cross my mind during that nightmare first over that such is the irony, comedy, karma, providence of cricket, call it what you will – or maybe just the hand of a cricket god moved to mercy by a young man’s thankless exertions – that Tendulkar would probably be Peter George’s first Test wicket.

And so it proved to be. Whichever god it was who wrote the script did ensure that the maestro wracked up another couple of stratospheric achievements – 49th Test ton, another double hundred, and so it (and he) goes on – before a beautiful swinging delivery from the debutant found Sachin’s inside edge as he tried to cut and chopped the ball onto his stumps.

If there is anything guaranteed to give you a little confidence on your maiden appearance for your country, taking the wicket of the world’s greatest batsman must surely be it.

A couple of days ago this Test match was wandering along the flat road leading to the nowhere of a nailed-on draw. Tomorrow, Day 5 will dawn with the promise of a victory. For whom, it’s too tight to say. India hold a slight advantage but it all depends on whether they can take Australia’s 3 remaining wickets quickly. At the moment Australia’s lead is 185, and five of their 7 wickets have gone to the spinners. Can Hauritz replicate the success of Ojha and Harbhajan? Will Ricky Ponting trust him enough to let him try?

There will be heroics. There will be tension. Larynxes will be screamed raw as bowlers appeal for everything. Batsmen will go to the middle all guns blazing and get out playing stupid shots.

Or, the last three wickets of Australia’s innings will fall cheaply and India will do the cricketing equivalent of stealing confectionery from a small child in knocking off the runs required.

The not knowing is part of the excitement, and it is part of what makes matches like this great.

Welcome… to Test cricket.

Murali Vijay: Super Sub

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Murali Vijay was only 5 years old when Sachin Tendulkar made his international debut in 1989.

Today he took his place at The Little Master’s side to help India to a total of 435-5 at stumps on Day 3 against Australia at Bangalore.

As usual, the focus of the large crowd’s attention was Tendulkar’s faultless batting – he scored his 49th Test hundred and finished the day not out on 191 – but his partnership with his young apprentice added 308 runs for the 3rd wicket, and has made it very unlikely that India will lose this match.

The only times I have seen Murali Vijay bat in Tests he has been filling in for someone else. His first Test appearance was in November 2008, when Gautam Gambhir was banned for elbowing Shane Watson during the previous Test at Delhi. The debutant acquitted himself respectably, scoring 33 and 41 and, probably more importantly, running out Matthew Hayden when the god-bothering flat track bully was on 16.

Since then he has been in and out of the Indian team, called up to the ICC World Twenty20 squad in April to replace Sehwag who was suffering from a back injury. He has played 8 Tests including this one, and, until today, his highest score had been 87. Today he went one better, and despite suffering a couple of nerve-wracking moments – a run-out chance early on when a Nathan Hauritz throw missed the stumps, and an lbw shout off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus – he brought up his hundred with a scampered run and a celebratory leap. It was an innings of composure, elegance, superb driving and invaluable in the support it lent to his more illustrious partner at the other end.

The problem with being a substitute is that you will invariably be outshone by the established superstars that surround you. Today Murali Vijay made some progress in emerging from their extremely long shadows.

As a footnote, I was amused and exasperated to learn that since scoring that magnificent 139 (his innings ended with a tired swipe at a wide delivery from Johnson), Vijay has received “an official reprimand for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct and regulations governing clothing and equipment”. He apparently was displaying too many logos on his pads.

The laughable bit about all this was that the forbidden logos received a good long camera close-up while they were being covered up with tape yesterday during a break in play.

Only in cricket…

No more worlds to conquer

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Sachin Tendulkar does not have this problem, as he seems to break records and expand the limits of what is possible in our best loved game on a regular basis.

Today at Bangalore, on Day 2 of the 2nd Test against Australia, he punched Nathan Hauritz through the covers for 4 and became the first man in history to reach 14000 Test runs. In January this year he passed the 13000 mark. Altogether, his international runs exceed 30000.

Those are just crazy numbers. It’s like Monopoly money. Genius sets its own goals, redefines its own standards of greatness, dismantles them, and sets them again. It is genius that ordinary mortals can barely find words for beyond the same oft-used clichés, because Sachin is better at cricket than most of us will ever be at anything.

There is no flash or bluster about The Little Master. You wonder whether achievement piled upon achievement, records set from the day he took guard in international cricket as a 16-year-old, have jaded him. How much can one man possibly achieve before the extraordinary becomes commonplace? When fans in the crowd hold up placards saying “God is at the crease”, “Keep silent, Sachin is batting”, when the howl of a crowd thirty thousand strong reaches a roaring crescendo as the bowler starts his run and you wait for that delivery that could be right for dispatching to the boundary en route to another milestone… how long do you have to be the best at what you do before you ever get used to that?

He goes quietly about his business with the bat, letting the weight of runs and the beauty of his strokeplay speak for him. It is only afterwards, when questioned, that he tells you honestly and modestly exactly what each achievement means to him. “Last 20 years I have pushed myself really hard. Challenges are always going to be there for me. All I need to do is to focus as hard as possible, work on my fitness, lead a disciplined life and use my body cleverly. When I started playing, I didn’t think of all these things. God has been really kind. I’m enjoying every moment.”

He gives as one of the keys to his success the fact that he still enjoys the game, and that the ball still finds the middle of the bat. The ball finds the middle of his bat with such consistency because, after a difficult period accompanied by injury, India’s failure in the World Cup of 2007 and critics like Ian Chappell questioning his place in the team, he is arguably now in the best form of his life.

Sachin is 37 years old. In the words of Indiana Jones, “it’s not the age; it’s the mileage”.

There is a lot of mileage under Tendulkar’s belt, and one hell of a lot of runs.

And he isn’t finished yet. Because just when it seems there are no more worlds for Tendulkar to conquer, he goes and finds another one.