I've grown up watching Sachin Tendulkar smash good length deliveries to the boundary, let alone half volleys. That's why it hurt me to see the great man fall to a full-toss on Tuesday against Sri Lanka in their first match of the Asia Cup. In fact, if my memory serves me right, the Sri Lankans bowled close to a dozen full-tosses and while most of them travelled past the boundary line, only two ended up straight into the hands of a fielder, both coming off Sachin's bat.
So, is it time for Sachin to bid adieu to one-day cricket? Let's wait till the end of this article before we answer that question. (Also see: Sachin's 99 centuries)
I was in England recently during India's ill-fated tour where they failed to win a single match in two months. While heading off for dinner with Munaf Patel on the night before the first ODI in Durham, we encountered an elderly couple waiting outside the team hotel, wanting to know Sachin Tendulkar's room number. As it turned out, they had travelled all the way from Scotland just to deliver a handmade card to their favourite cricketer. Sold on the story, Munaf decided to help- "drop it in room number 203, that's the masseurs' room. You will always find Sachin Paaji on the massage table post 5pm everyday". So while this statement brought a smile on the couple's face it left me rather sad. Because I realized that even though my superhero could battle anything on the cricket pitch, he couldn't hit age for a six.
Making Sachin's fitness my premise, I had concluded a few months ago, that he's more likely to get his 100th hundred in Tests than in ODIs. Remember, runners aren't available anymore. And with the fittest of batsmen struggling to carry their bat through the innings, I suspect Sachin will find it doubly hard. However, with cricket coming back to the sub-continent, I may still end up being wrong. But the fact remains - while Sachin hasn't looked close to getting an ODI ton, he has managed two 90 plus scores in Tests in the past one year. Mind you, having played the same number of games (11 Tests & 12 ODIs).
Not for once I am saying that Sachin is playing only to score hundreds. But having seen the man from very close, let me assure you, he wants to score a ton every time he walks out to bat, not for himself but for his team.