Melbourne: It is a battle Sachin Tendulkar is not always winning but he is not letting his critics win it either.
An authoritative 80 from the little genius at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the opening day of the daunting Australian tour may be a timely reminder to critics who have doubted his ability to bat for long periods. “It could be their opinion, but it doesn’t have to be a fact,” said Sachin.
No sooner had the team landed, past cricketers in both nations, including former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi have had a go at him.
Bedi made a savage attack on the eve of the tour opener by questioning Sachin’s ability to bat for long periods and accused him of getting tired in the 50s and 60s.
“He gets tired after 50 or 60,” Bedi was quoted as saying in the local Herald Sun. “He will score his centuries but he does not have the endurance of our friend Matthew Hayden.
“The beautiful glow that was on Sachin’s face when he was coming through is missing,” remarked Bedi.
Sachin, who has scored 67 international hundreds and over 20,000 runs in a 14-year distinguished career, made a fitting riposte to the criticism by belting an outstanding 80 against Victoria at the MCG on Tuesday which was as good an innings as you would see anywhere around on a cricket field.
He showed little fatigue or caution before he edged a forcing drive to gully. His innings also made light of criticism by former Australian cricketers Dean Jones and Damien Fleming who doubted Sachin’s ability to handle short-pitched deliveries.
“I tell you what, they (Australians) are going to be bouncing the hell out of him. They believe he has a weakness in the top half of his body,” remarked Jones, a former Victorian great.
“They believe he is so good at anything around his belly and where the ball comes, height wise, around the knees and front foot. They will want to keep them upstairs around his face.” Fleming, another local, agreed with Jones’ comments.
“Of the times I had success against him, a couple of times were with the shorter ball when he props forward and looks to drive, and he has quite a heavy weight,” Fleming said.
Sachin unleashed a series of spectacular hooks and cuts as the Victorian bowlers dug it in short and came down the wicket against the leg spin of Cameron White, something he has not done for a long time.
Sachin also said India have set certain “team goals” for the present tour and they are determined to achieve it.
“I don’t want to discuss what people feel or say. We are more concerned about what we have on our mind. I think as a team we are really geared up to play some challenging cricket,” Sachin said.
Sachin also did not agree with the long-held belief that Indian batsmen were not too good against short-pitched deliveries.
“Whatever has happened in the past, you cannot always go by that. One can always turn around and start a new chapter,” he said.
Virender Sehwag and Sadgopan Ramesh had contrasting fortunes at the MCG and Sachin played with a straight bat on the chances of these batsmen for the Test series.
“Sehwag is a very dangerous player. He can turn around and play a big innings, even match-winning innings. He has done that in the past and stroke-players like him are very exciting to watch. Let’s hope we see more of him on this tour.
“Ramesh has given himself a nice build-up for the series with this innings. But I can’t really comment if he would play in the Tests. It is up to the coach and the captain to decide... I don’t take part in that.”
On his innings, Sachin said: “I thought initially the wicket was too slow. It was not coming on to the bat and one had to wait for deliveries. After lunch it became a good strip to bat on and there were more opportunities to play shots.”