May 14, 1999
Should Tendulkar open?
A lot of water has flowed under the Thames recently on whether Sachin Tendulkar should open the innings in the World Cup or not. I, for one, am not clear what the alternatives are.
In a game limited to 50 overs, there is a very strong argument for ensuring that the best batsman in the team gets to play the most. This logic, if anything, should be stronger in the case of the world's best batsman. If he can get going, he will give India the best chance of getting an early upperhand. And straightaway put the opposition under pressure. And Tendulkar does not have to do anything extra to score fast. His normal game is to score at a run-a-ball.
The logic of swinging conditions in England does not hold water either. If batting is expected to be difficult, it makes sense to send in the one player who is best equipped to handle such conditions. Protecting Sachin and asking someone else to open is ridiculous. How can an inferior (with due respects ) batsman be expected to counter conditions where the world's best player needs protection? He may end up coming in quickly, with a couple of wickets down.
What has surprised me is that a player of Kapil's stature and attitude has said this. I strongly feel that our best chance lies in Sachin opening. I only wish he could open at both ends. Let's face it. The game is a funny one. The best bat in the world is human. He will get some low scores in the Cup. On those days, the rest of the batsman must make sure they score. But, more often than not, he will get going. And take with him the hopes of millions of Indians to a new high.
Lets wish him (and by extension, the Indian team ) a dream opener against South Africa.
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