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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 14:48 GMT
Nerves render Tendulkar mortal
By Oliver Brett

Andrew Hall celebrates bowling Tendulkar on Tuesday
Oh Sachin! Hall celebrates as Tendulkar trudges back

The last two years in Sachin Tendulkar's glittering Test career have shown that India's batting superstar is not immune to failure.

The richest cricketer in the world he may be, and he is still one of the finest batsman ever to have picked up a bat.

Lately, however, a lot of bowlers around the world have found his wicket unusually easy to capture.

Tendulkar's latest reverse came when South African medium pacer Andrew Hall sent his middle stump cartwheeling in Kanpur on Tuesday, on a pitch which yielded just 13 wickets in the first four days.

By then the princely right-hander had moved his score along to just three to be the lowest scorer in India's recently-maligned top five by some 51 runs.

In the last few years he has become a very uncertain starter
Ayaz Memon
Indian journalist
The last two years have seen two golden Tendulkar Tests at the start of this year - with a massive, unbeaten 241 in Sydney and match-winning 194 not out against Pakistan in Multan.

But there has also been an alarming rash of single-figure scores.

And the great man is now a lowly 12th in the snapshot world ratings provided by PwC.

Is this a temporary blip or a more worrying long-term trend?

Ayaz Memon, sports editor of the Times of India and editor of Bombay Times, has observed Tendulkar closely.

TENDULKAR'S LAST TWO YEARS
In New Zealand
8, 51, 9, 32
vs New Zealand in India
8, 7, 55, 1
In Australia
0, 1, 37, 0, 44, 241*, 60
In Pakistan
194*, 2, 8, 1
vs Australia in India
8, 2, 5, 55
vs South Africa in India
3
He tells BBC Sport: "The one big thing we note from his batting in the last few years is that he is becoming a very uncertain starter.

"When he first played for India he was never like that. He would get to 20 or 30 in double-quick time and was a completely dominating player.

"Once he does get a start he is capable of very big scores as we saw in Sydney and Multan."

But why on earth would a player of Tendulkar's vast experience and capabilities be afflicted by the batting yips after the age of 30?

"I think perhaps he is trying too hard," adds Menon. "Batting used to come to him so easily - now he's searching for those early runs."

Engagingly, Tendulkar is still the keenest Indian on the field - diving across the turf like a teenager and attempting every variation conceivable with his spin-bowling.

Tendulkar hitting an important fifty in Mumbai against Australia
Tendulkar hitting an important fifty in Mumbai against Australia
But the desire to get a run of big scores going again appears to be have unsettled him.

Menon knows that even another string of failures will not result in Tendulkar being dropped.

"He will be given a long run. He's Sachin Tendulkar, it's not easy to drop a player of his calibre and reputation."

But he is also confident that the good times are just around the corner, citing his lack of cricket in recent months following a frustrating tennis elbow injury.

"He's desperately short of match practice - the feeling is that everything will sort itself out once he gets a good score under his belt."

Perhaps Menon's optimism is justified.

After all, with 33 Test centuries and 9,543 runs under his belt, Tendulkar cannot remain out of form for long.




SEE ALSO
Tendulkar hits back at critics
11 Nov 04 |  Cricket
Ten magical Sachin facts
02 Sep 04 |  Features


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