Sachin Tendulkar: Did he overstay his welcome?

Parag Jain
Sachin Tendulkar vents his frustration after getting bowled against New Zealand

‘Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’, the name is rhetoric saga of unbelievable journey that every aspiring cricketer would wish to listen over and over again. The name is more than enough for many to explain why cricket is not just another game but a religion for them. The legendary cricketer has been given the status of ‘a living God’ by the emotional Indian fans for what he has done and achieved in his 24-year long career. He has had his hands on each and every single thing that a cricketer can merely dream of.

In 24 years, Tendulkar won the maximum number of Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards in ODIs, has the maximum number of centuries to his name, has played more Tests and ODIs than any other cricketer, has the maximum number of runs to his name, both in Tests and ODIs and many more unshakable records.

He has another record to his name, which is not talked about much and that is the highest number of dismissals in the 90s (28 in total). Though no one has ever questioned Sachin’s passion for the game, yet there are many who have firmly believed that in the later phase of his career he was more focused on achieving personal milestones, even at the cost of the team sometimes and also that his decision to hang up his boots came too late and the Master should have chosen India’s World Cup victory in 2011 as the right time to say goodbye. But how could he?

He was just one century away from scoring the unprecedented century of international centuries. His 99th ton came against South Africa on 12th March, 2011 during the World Cup and then he took 34 innings (both Tests and ODIs) and 369 days to reach one of the most discussed landmarks in cricket history, but the manner in which he did this was not so pleasing.

After being eluded by the 100th hundred for over a year, Sachin ensured that it came against a less daunting ODI team, Bangladesh in conditions which completely suited the batsmen. This was his first ever ODI hundred against Bangladesh, but his sluggish innings gave the opponents an opportunity to make it difficult for India to book a place in the final of Asia Cup as India lost the match. Here was a perfect example of a player playing for his milestone.

In a one-day match, a set batsman usually looks to increase the scoring rate as the innings progresses and especially when his team has wickets in hand. But Tendulkar was not in a mood to take any risks and postpone his much-awaited century. He faced 63 balls to reach his fifty and another 75 balls to get to the ton.

India had 8 wickets in hand with not many overs left when Sachin took 13 balls to move from 94 to 100. He scored 114 runs from 147 balls but the bowlers were blamed alone as Bangladesh achieved the target of 290 runs set by India with 5 wickets remaining. After the 2011 World Cup, Sachin decided to follow the ‘pick and choose’ formula and pulled out of every ODI series but finally returned to the limited overs format after not being able to hit a century in three Test series against England, West Indies and Australia.

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