The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The ‘verdict’: Sachin in middle-order

Calcutta: That Sachin Tendulkar should not open in the forthcoming World Cup and continue batting at the middle-order was the unanimous verdict of the house in the Ceat Cricket Rating debate (the first of its kind) at the CC&FC Tuesday.

Among others, former India wicketkeeper Syed Saba Karim and former Bengal captain Chuni Goswami were the major speakers in favour of the motion — ‘Sachin Tendulkar should open the batting in one-day Internationals’. Former national selector Ashok Malhotra was in the opposite camp.

The moderator was former India middle-order batsman Sanjay Manjrekar who is also the Executive Director of the Ceat Cricket Ratings.

After Goswami had said that India should have someone who could take charge straightaway, Malhotra argued, “I was one of the selectors when Sachin was asked to come down the order and it was a well thought out decision.” He added that Virender Sehwag has fitted in well in the opener’s slot and there is no point in tinkering with the combination.

He further opined that it’s best to use the No. 1 Indian batsman as a ‘floater’ rather than exposing him to the new ball when it does quite a bit in South Africa. “Playing him at No. 3 will be the best option,”

But Saba Karim felt that Sachin should open because it is always better to have the best playing more of the overs. “Sachin had shown in the past that he can bat for 50 overs and put India in a commanding position.”

The former ’keeper felt the option could have been considered a couple of years earlier when India had a brittle middle-order. “But now we boast of such a powerful middle-order. Moreover, it has been proved that Sehwag is suspect against short-pitched bowling.”

However, what finally clinched the issue for the speakers talking against the motion was the fact that Sachin as opener has helped India win 93 matches while they have lost 92. “India only has a 50 per cent success rate with Sachin at the top. So it’s more of a myth that they win more when the Little Master opens,” another speaker noted to clinch victory.

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