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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Indian fans question Wisden's wisdom
Arjun Sandhu reflects the uproar in India over Wisden's decision not to include Sachin Tendulkar in the 100 greatest Test performances.
Whoever said "winning isn't everything" ought to have a look at the criteria adopted by cricket's most-respected publication in judging the best performances in Test history.
Wisden's top-100 gives paramount importance to batting and bowling performances that paved the path to victory.
The complex system involved variables like state of the game, quality of opposition and types of pitches.
But the 'victory preferred' criteria left India's star batsman Sachin Tendulkar out in the cold.
None of his 25 Test centuries features among the 100 best knocks in Test cricket - something that millions of his fans in the sub-continent are not able to digest.
Tendulkar's omission has antoagonised Indian cricket followers, who are accustomed to their hero being rated among the finest batsmen of all times.
The cricket-addicted country is touchy about its few sporting idols, and Tendulkar towers above them all. He touches an emotional chord which defies logic.
They are aware that Tendulkar has not featured in too many Test victories, but do not blame him for that.
He was for a long period a lone warrior for India and, as a result, suffers in comparative studies, such as that carried out by Wisden.
If Tendulkar's absence from the top 100 knocks in cricket history was not enough, the fact that none of his innings feature among the top 10 by Indian batsmen has caused an even bigger uproar.
Wisden's software expert Ananth Narayan, who is based in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, confesses that one of Tendulkar's knocks - versus Pakistan at Chennai in 1999 - might have made the top 10 had India won the Test.
This epic encounter between two arch rivals was clinched by Pakistan by 12 runs after Tendulkar was dismissed for 136 amid mounting tension and the Indian tail folded up after his departure.
One wonders if the analysts who assessed the true value of this knock gauged the fact that Tendulkar suffered from acute backache during the latter part of his innings knock and went into all-out attack realising he would not be able to withstand the pain too long.
The little master has played some other sterling knocks in adverse circumstances.
His first Test century, 118 not out versus England at Old Trafford in 1990, shaped the emergence of a teenager into cricket's most attractive batsman.
Aged 17 years and four months, the young Tendulkar helped avert defeat on a track which showed visible signs of deterioration on the last day.
In 1992, he played a played a peach of a knock in Perth, aged 18 years and nine months, on a fast and bouncy track totally alien to previous surfaces he had encountered.
Tendulkar himself rates his 114 among his most satisfying innings.
But India still lost the Test by a massive margin.
Tendulkar altered the script when he hit a Test-winning 155 not out against Australia in Chennai in 1998, during which he dissected the bowling of spinner Shane Warne and India went on to win the series 2-1.
So much for the analysts valuing winning performances against high-quality opposition.
To millions of Tendulkar fans it matters little that VVS Laxman's match-winning 281 against Australia at Calcutta's Eden Garden this year is ranked sixth in the all-time best knocks.
That was undoubtedly a magnificent innings and one which changed the course of the match - and the series.
But however good Laxman's performance, there is one Indian batsman who stands head and shoulders above everyone else - and his name is Sachin Tendulkar.
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