This was the screaming headline on Indiatimes.com (sometime in late January) that we are well seeing the end of Sachin Tendulkar.
And then there was this incidence of Shoaib Akhtar hitting him on the head. The knives came out almost immediately. He is just not the same Sachin. Sixteen years of battle have taken their toll on his body. He cannot make enough runs. The team cannot depend on him anymore to bail them out of trouble. Etc and more etc.
Moin Khan went so far as to say, “the fact of the matter is that Shoaib Akhtar literally exposed Sachin’s present-day ability against quality fast bowling during a spell that will certainly be remembered for long.” Thereby suggesting that Sachin was running scared of Shoaib Akhtar.
Oh! How we like to pull down our idols.
After watching Sachin’s performance on Sunday, in the Third Test versus England at Mumbai, I wondered if the knives would be out all over again. And sure enough they were.
It started with the Mumbai crowd booing Sachin. Sachin, the one time demi-god of Indian cricket. Sachin - The local boy. Totally Unheard of. Come to think of it I haven’t seen Sachin being booed anywhere in the world.
Well! To be fair, Sachin’s innings was not particularly attractive. After all how attractive can a batsman be in a personal score of 1? He did look uncomfortable while he was there, was not connecting well and probably the only shot that he was able to middle was fielded at gully. And, yes, he did look anxious to get off the mark.
And then there was the way he got out. It was very very pedestrian. Poking at a wide-ish delivery outside the off stump without any foot movement at all. A dismissal for which a school boy cricketer would earn a whack on the side of the head.
I took a look at his average for the calendar year 2006 and realised with a shock that it is only 22.2 with a highest of 28!!!