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Is Tendulkar still the best?

December 13, 2003 21:40 IST

Sachin Tendulkar is revered like a god in India, Matthew Hayden had said on his return home after an Indian tour two years ago.

But while the big built Australian left-hander is blasting his way to batting records, the Indian genius seems to be slipping from the peaks he had climbed.

The error in judgement by Tendulkar on Day of the Adelaide Test to gift his wicket to the Aussies illustrates his slight decline at a time when batsmen like Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh, Brian Lara and South Africa's Graeme Smith have come up with stupendous performances to outshine him.

Before this Test, Ponting had made 2037 runs in 20 matches starting January one, 2002 at an average of 75.44. Today he added another 242 to his tally making this his 10th century during this period.

Hayden has made 2254 runs in 21 Test matches during the same period with 10 hundreds including the massive 380 against Zimbabwe to set up a new record for the highest individual score in a Test innings. His average during the period is 75.13.

Gilchrist, who would find a place in the Australian team on the strength of his wicket-keeping alone, made 1420 runs in 21 Tests in the same period including one double century and four other hundreds. He carries an average of 71.

Lara made 1405 runs in 15 matches including a double century and three more hundreds to earn an average of 58.54.

Australian captain Waugh, who was on the verge of losing his place in the team because of indifferent form only a year back, has made 1241 runs in 20 Tests with an average of nearly 54. He scored five centuires during the period.

South African skipper Smith has scored 1463 runs in 17 Tests including the highest of 277 against England and three other hundreds. Yesterday he scored yet another hundred against the West Indies.

Compare this to Tendulkar's 1463 in 19 Test matches since January 2002, with four hundreds and an average of 48.76. That was before today's disappointing innings.

No wonder, most commentators now rate Hayden as the world's best batsman with Ponting, who additionally has a fabulous one-day record as does Tendulkar, close behind.

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