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Tendulkar's Ranji century a 'very good sign'

Last updated on: November 4, 2012 09:29 IST

Tendulkar's Ranji century a 'very good sign'

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Harish Kotian

Did New Zealand's bowlers discover a chink in Sachin Tendulkar's batting, or is age finally catching up with the 39-year-old great?

That was the question on everyone's mind as Tendulkar was bowled in his last three innings, in the two-Test series against New Zealand in August.

Sunil Gavaskar, who himself is rated as one of the best batsmen in Test cricket, believes people should not read too much into Tendulkar's recent failures and that the right-hander will work on rectifying his shortcomings.

Tendulkar hasn't enjoyed a good run in Tests recently, having scored just one half-century in his last 12 innings. He hit his last Test century nearly 20 months ago, 146 against South Africa in January last year, but was also dismissed twice in 90s since then.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

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Sachin would have worked on his rustiness

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Going by the evidence of his sparkling century (137 from 134 balls) for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy on Friday, the former India captain pointed out that Tendulkar looks on course to bounce back with a bang in the four-Test series against England.

"India had one of those rare two months off from international cricket, so, maybe, it could well have been a bit of rustiness.

"But, as I said, he is a quick learner, he is somebody who must have noticed it himself, he would have probably studied the videos a couple of 1000 times if not more and would have worked on it. I don't really see too much of an issue," Gavaskar said in Mumbai on Saturday.

"I think Sachin would have had enough time to think about how he got out. If he has got the runs now he must have worked on it and the evidence will be there in the Test matches. But the very fact that he has got runs now is a very good sign," he added.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

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Getting in the groove

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The former India captain said Tendulkar's century for Mumbai will help erase doubts about his batting and also get him into the groove for the season ahead.

"The fact that he has been out there in the middle and he has felt the ball in the middle of the bat and scored runs, I think, that is always a good thing.

"You can practice as much as you can in the nets, but it is never the same as actually being out in the middle and feeling the ball hit the middle of the bat and running, because what that does is that you are testing your lung capacity and that is an important aspect."

Gavaskar played 125 Tests for India, scoring 10122 runs at an average of 51.12, with the help of 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

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Gavaskar backs Sehwag-Gambhir opening pair

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The right-hander, who was widely regarded as one of the best openers of his era, also gave his backing to the struggling opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.

He believes it will not be right to enter the England series with a new opening pair since it takes time for batsmen to gel with each other.

"We have got a settled opening pair in Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir and unless the situation is dire, unless the situation is that someone is totally out of form, I don't think we should be doing so many changes.

"The simple reason is that to get a pair, which has the understanding that they have, is not an easy thing. It takes a little time for a new pair or combination to settle, so I would say we should wait a little bit before taking any decisions," he reasoned.

India suffered back-to-back 4-0 whitewashes in England and Australia last year which put a lot of question marks on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's future as Test captain.


Image: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir
Photographs: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

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Dhoni an automatic skipper

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Gavaskar, 63, reiterated that Dhoni should continue to captain the Indian team as long as he commands a place in the eleven.

"At this particular time, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the automatic choice in all three formats. So if he is an automatic choice then continues to be the captain. When he is not an automatic choice then you want to think about somebody else as the captain," he said.

The first Test begins in Ahmedabad on November 15 and Gavaskar said the opening match will be pretty crucial to the outcome of the four-match series.

"If India wins the first Test then I don't think England will be able to come back.

"I believe the home teams always have the edge because they are in familiar with conditions. They have the biggest advantage of being able to be in surroundings they are comfortable with.

"It could be as simple as going to a restaurant to eat where you can get the food that you want, the cuisine that you want. You know the pitch conditions and the crowds are your biggest support.


Image: MS Dhoni
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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'I am hoping India will win 4-0'

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"What we have seen again, I felt in 2011, England was very vulnerable, Australia was very vulnerable and the first Test becomes an important factor. Like England won the first Test, Australia won the first Test in 2011 and certainly they derived strength from that and they became better and better," the veteran added.

Like all Indian fans, Gavaskar is also hoping India can blank England 4-0 in the Tests and extract revenge for last year's humiliation.

"It is hard to predict in a game of cricket but I am hoping India will win 4-0 against England and 4-0 against Australia as well. That is what we suffered in 2011," he said.


Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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