“2012 Union Budget will be remembered as the day when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar created history by completing100 international centuries in cricket.” .“It hasn’t yet sunk in yet, but I have definitely lost around 50 kilos.”
A whole nation of 1.2 billion people elevated in joy and expressed their happiness by hitting out to the streets and celebrated with fireworks when Sachin glanced a single past square-leg to host the flag at an everest that cannot be scaled by anyone else. The flag stands in middle of two others: one being hosted by Sir Donald Bradman which states 99.94 and the other one by Muttiah Muralitharan which states 1334 international wickets.
Newsrooms erupted. Buses and trains leapt in excitement. Media threw away the Budget story and started to discuss the 100th ton with praises and tributes coming from international cricketers all around the globe. People forgot that a match was going on. They switched off the television sets and set their march to spread the news. At the end of the day, India , the world cup champions not even a year ago, lost to Bangladesh , unable to defend a target of 290. But the celebrations continued throughout the night and Sachin’s 100th 100 hit the headlines ahead of the Union Budget and India’s humiliating loss to Bangladesh. Media was desperate to bury the loss story through shows portraying Sachin Special stories. The defeat was meant to be forgotten. The Sachin Moment was the talking point everywhere. Facebook posts, tweets, SMS, pictures, spams, advertisements had SACHIN inscribed everywhere.
Words are not enough to describe the genius and greatness of Sachin and he deserved every praise, tribute, congratulations, special shows, appreciations, headlines but how can it overshadow the defeat of the Indian team to minnows while defending a competitive target of 290? Are individual records being chased by fans as well? How can a team be overlooked ahead of an individual player? How come not a single soul did not utter a word about the 100th ton during the world cup campaign? How can the disastrous tours of Australia and England become the centre of discussion for change in Indian cricket and not the same when India has to depend on Bangladesh to qualify for the finals of a quadrangular tournament?
Any issue raised about Indian cricket by a foreigner(especially if it is by an Australian) is hailed and glorified with hatred words and dissatisfaction by the Indian media as if they have some serious talking issues that can change the course for Indian cricket. Greg Chappell had earlier pointed out that India truly lacked a cricketing culture, but it was misinterpreted and molded to win the masses of the public to go against the Chappell brother. Such cheap mentality not to accept the reality is becoming a part and parcel of Indian public. The ability to accept critics and learn from the previous mistakes has always been lacking.
Indian Cricket has been blessed with a number of champion players but never has it produced a champion team. As Ian Chappell correctly pointed out “A champion team will always win against a team of champions”. When all glory was laid down at the feet of Indian team after becoming the #1 test team, they soon showed how subtle and meek they can be in foreign conditions. The underlying fact was that India was obvious to get the #1spot either way and they did not earn it. The reason is simple. Australia had just begun their downfall after losing their giants. India had test series only at home conditions. The stage was perfectly set for India to claim something which they never deserved. Unfortunately, the people were woken from the dreams only when the true test of ability and skill was posted in front of the Indian team in England and Australia. India is currently on course to continue the trend in ODI cricket after winning the world cup.
Selfish play is predominant in Indian cricket team. In the Asia cup encounter against Pakistan,when Rohit Sharma failed to attack the batting powerplay at India being only two wickets down and he pumped his fist after he had got a mere 50, it clearly tells you about his intentions. Big batting firepower in the likes of Raina, Dhoni, Yusuf were about to follow but Rohit decided to play it safe to secure his berth with a 50. I am not questioning his patient innings but his dead slow batting during the batting powerplay when he was about 40 odd runs. A strong discipline and the value of team effort is clearly missing. Fitness is an ignored art for ageing players and it has started to penetrated even in some youngsters today.
No one can question Sachin’s commitment to the game of cricket and his passion towards batting, but at the same time no one can deny his interests and quests for chasing records as well. His year long wait for such a milestone is not the first of its kind. A similar wait had taken place when Sachin was on course to score the maximum number of test centuries surpassing Gavaskar’s tally of 34 centuries. In the Delhi test against West Indies in 2011, the day’s play was about to draw to a close with both Sachin and Dravid well set in the crease. During the last over, Sachin denied Dravid a single thereby allowing him to play out the final deliveries. In the next day, a tight contest was on cards between the number of runs required for Indian to win and number of runs required for Sachin to get his 100th 100. Sachin ,while batting on 76, denied an easy single as the ball had clipped his pad and so will not be counted in his personal score. But, he was trapped plumb LBW in the same over of the bowling of Devandra Bishoo. One could expect the senior most player to face the media and sort things out during chaos. But Tendulkar was tight lipped throughout the terrible series defeats in the hands of England and Australia. Despite his achievements of creating records, rewriting history, scaling new peaks, winning the world cup, Sachin Tendulkar can never admit he has been a part of a champion team that achieved great heights consistently over a period of time.