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Tendulkar needs to justify his place!

Last updated on: February 21, 2013 14:13 IST

Tendulkar needs to justify his place!

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Bikash Mohapatra

Sachin Tendulkar's last century came more than two years ago against South Africa.

Considering his current run, the maestro has to justify that at age 40 he can contribute more to the side than just experience, says Bikash Mohapatra.

Before you jump the gun, let's clarify that this isn't another edit piece calling for Sachin Tendulkar's retirement.

In fact, it's time to retire such write-ups and accept something that most experts keep saying -- that the batsman should decide when to call it a day.

Having said that, even as Tendulkar keeps playing, his performances need to be assessed in a pragmatic manner, sans any prejudice and he should be evaluated in the same vein as the other stars in the high profile Indian team.

If the likes of Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman could be forced to hasten their 'final decision', and other stars like Virender Sehwag (in the shorter format) and Gautam Gambhir face the sack, why be lenient towards a particular individual?

Agreed, Tendulkar owns almost all individual records, save the unattainable (Sir Don Bradman's Test average), and is a legend in his own right. But isn't cricket a team sport?

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Sachin has made less than 1,000 runs in 17 recent Tests :(

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It is easy to dismiss statistics as superfluous when it concerns someone as reputed as the Master Blaster. However, it can't be denied that statistics provide an apt description of a player's form.

Tendulkar's recent numbers have been anything but encouraging.

He has failed to reach a three-figure score in Tests in more than two years, since his 146 against South Africa at Newlands (January 2011).

In fact, he has accumulated less than 1,000 runs in the 17 Tests since that innings.

If one goes by numbers, last year (2012) was Tendulkar's worst full season since his formative years, one in which he scored just 357 runs in nine Tests (Average: 23.80).

Since India toured England in 2011, a series where he averaged less than 35, Tendulkar has been anything but impressive.

While he was a surprise failure in the recent home series against a weak New Zealand side -- scoring just 61 runs in the two Tests (Average: 21.00) -- it was his visible struggle against the England bowlers in the subsequent series -- where he managed only 112 runs in four Tests at a measly average of 18.67 -- that startled even his biggest fans.

Tendulkar struggling against the English quicks in England is understandable, but him struggling against them on docile subcontinent wickets is unfathomable.

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Had Sachin been an Aussie he would have been sacked by now

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Sachin's performances in the one-day format in the last couple of years -- including that endless wait for that 100th international hundred, that eventually ended in the Asia Cup game against Bangladesh last March -- wasn't much to write about either.

Uncharacteristically tepid ODI scores led to his retirement from the format ahead of the home series against Pakistan last year.

Had he been playing for Australia or for that matter the West Indies, Tendulkar would have been forced to quit by now. It happened to the great Gordon Greenidge and the incomparable Viv Richards. It happened to the amazing Steve Waugh and the awesome Ricky Ponting.

But Tendulkar has divine status in this country.

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He comes into the first Test with three domestic tons

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As India and Australia joust in the opening Test in Chennai, it is easy to justify Tendulkar's place in the squad.

The Great Man has scored 3,438 runs in 35 Tests against the Aussies; his best against any country.

He seems in good nick, having scored three hundreds while helping Mumbai win a 40th Ranji title.

But we mustn't read too much into those knocks as we all know the quality of bowling in domestic cricket.

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A dry run may make retirement inevitable

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Tendulkar, who will turn 40 on April 24, knows better than anyone else that he needs to get back among the runs.

Another dry run may make retirement inevitable.

Arguably, the greatest batsman of our time needs to justify that he can contribute more to this Indian side than just his experience.

Sachin Tendulkar, for once, needs to prove himself.



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