Is Sachin Tendulkar the greatest part-time bowler ever?
Whenever we talk about Sachin Tendulkar, things which come to our mind are his double century against South Africa in an ODI, duel with Shane Warne, six of a Shoaib Akhtar delivery in a world cup tie, the number of runs that he has piled up, almost everything related to batting. But in whole discussion about him, we tend to forget Sachin Tendulkar- ‘The Bowler’. By no means is he an ordinary bowler. There are bowlers who can swing the bowl, bowlers who can bowl cutters, bowlers who spin (leg and off spin). But if there is a bowler who can bowl all type of bowling as mentioned above, then he is Sachin Tendulkar. At the start of his career, Tendulkar used to bowl gentle medium pace, swinging the bowl both ways but gradually he moved onto become a part time spinner. When he is spinning the bowl, he can get the ball to spin in both ways. He never needed any kind of assistance from the pitch to swing or spin it.
Notion behind the bowling with part-timers is to deceive the batsman by allowing him to play more loose deliveries. Part-timers often go for runs but many a times they end up taking a wicket or two. Batsmen tends to lose their wickets to part-timers as they try too hard to score against them. But when we talk about Sachin Tendulkar, most of the time he gets his wicket due to clever bowling.
Well, being one of the greatest batsmen does help. Sachin understands what the batsman must be thinking when he comes onto bowl. Who can forgot when he bowled Moin Khan between his legs with a googly of the last ball of the day of a test-match. It was a delivery which would make any specialist bowler proud. Everyone remembers the contribution of VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Rahul Dravid in the epic test at Kolkata against the Aussies but relatively, very few remember the three wickets which Tendulkar picked up on the last day. Those wickets included the threatening Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchirst. The fact that Harbhajan picked up six wickets in second innings speaks about the volume of his contribution. Harbhajan didn’t get any support from the other end apart from Tendulkar.
It is widely known that at the beginning of his career, Sachin went to join MRF academy in Chennai to become a fast bowler where Dennis Lillie famously sent him back and asked to concentrate on batting. He may have not become the best bowler in the world but still his record as bowler is extremely effective. In the recently concluded World Cup, he picked up his 200th international wicket (ODI- 155, Test- 44. T20 I- 1). He is the only part-time bowler in the world who has 200 international wickets in his kitty. Following his tennis elbow injury, he doesn’t bowl frequently these days. But when it was needed, Tendulkar stepped up and bowled 2-3 crucial overs in India’s 2011 World Cup campaign.
Today, virtually every Indian batsman is a part-time bowler. Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virendra Sehwag have risen through the ranks in the recent years in terms of part-timers but still Sachin Tendulkar mesmerizes the crowd with his sublime skills. His delivery to Michael Clark in the quarter-final of world cup 2011 was probably the best of the match. Skill is still there but we need Sachin Tendulkar – the batsman more. But the question remains- Is he the greatest part-time bowler ever? In my opinion, YES!
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