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CRICKET - INDIA VS WEST INDIES
 


As usual, Sachin scores century and India loses

The only thing that matters, in the end, is that India lost.

Cricket commentary
MIND GAME

FOURTH UMPIRE

15 September, 2006

Another Sachin ODI century, this time the 40th. Feeling of de javu? Sure. But that’s not all. We lost the match once again. But wasn’t it because of that strange Duckworth-Lewis formula? Maybe, but it reinforces the theory by some cricket pundits that Tendulkar may be a great player, the best Indian cricketer ever and perhaps the best batsman of his era but yet not a match-winner. If Duckworth- Lewis is strange, isn’t it strange for both teams?

Isn’t this argument a bit unfair? Maybe but modern sport is not about being fair but about winning at any cost. Not that the Indian team doesn’t know this. They started realizing this after John Wright took over and Greg Chappell also must be dinning this into their ears.

Remember Rahul Dravid’s declaration when Tendulkar was at the cusp of a double century against Pakistan and the brouhaha after that? Dravid knew it and probably wanted everyone to know that double century was but a mere statistic and what was important was winning the match. If allowing Tendulkar to hang around the crease was going against the team’s interest, he had to be called back from the crease. Unless of course, you think there was a ‘jealousy’ factor behind Dravid’s declaration.

But this is not to suggest that Tendulkar cares more for centuries than Indian victories. Most often, it is the fault of the others than he himself. Take that big century against Pakistan in Chennai when he fought spasms of pain, brought the team on the verge of victory, lost his wicket and found everyone else crumbling.

Oh yes, Tendulkar did famously say that 40 is a mere number. But look at the way the media has reported the match. Every paper has gloated about the little master’s glorious comeback and how Duckworth spoiled the party. The final result, that India lost the match, is almost an aside, mentioned sometimes at the bottom, once the vocabulary has been expended about how the century was made, how many sixers were hit and so on. 

India will not reach the level of Australia unless the players are made to realize that the game has moved on from statistics and records. Also that the game is not about individuals any longer.

Forget Sachin for a moment. Sourav Ganguly who also has a bag of centuries is not playing. He was also described as one of the best one day players in the ‘world’. But nobody misses him. Neither his colleagues nor the spectators.

For a team like Zimbabwe, it may matter a lot if a certain player cannot play. Not for Australia or India with a large pool of talent. When Glen Mcgrath couldn’t make it because his wife was suffering from cancer, they brought in somebody called Clarke and he has done his job. The same with India. If Ganguly or Tendulkar cannot play, there will be a Raina, or Mongia to take their places.

No player is important. Winning is. Greg was making the same point by showing the door to the captain of the team. But Greg also needs to remember that no coach is also not important than winning.

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