Sachin’s Absence in the triseries
A Blessing In Disguise?
By K. Srinavas Rao

When Saurav Ganguly and his boys takes on Kiwis in their first game in the Coca-Cola cup, it will be for the first time in more than 2 years that Indians will be without the services of the little big man of the Indian team – Sachin Tendulkar. The last time Sachin missed an entire tournament was in April 99 when India took part in the LG cup in Kenya. Such an amazing record this man has that in his 12 year international career, Sachin has just missed 5 full tournaments in all due to injury. In fact, he has the world record of playing 185 ODI on the trot. In all, since making his ODI debut against Pakistan in 1989, Sachin has missed just 31 ODI in all. That is indeed mind blowing. Experts are always short of words when talking about him or praising him. So, the best thing to do when Sachin is batting is just to watch him play. That is the reason why, his place is not easy to fill in for anybody.

Although, it is not for the first time that, Saurav would be leading a team not including Sachin (he did that in the DMC cup against the Windies in Toronto, which India won), still he will feel the vacuum. The reason being that not only Sachin is the most experienced player in the current outfit, he is also a very good thinker of the game. So, whenever, Saurav wanted an advice on field or he was looking for a breakthrough he used to turn to Sachin. But, he and India can no longer depend on the master blaster, if they want to make an impact on the field, or in other words, if they are aiming to win the coveted World Cup. Cricket is a team game and each member of the team has to contribute in his own way to be called a good team. They just can’t depend on individual brilliance. If they want to produce good cricket consistently, its upto each team member to stand up and be counted.

For long now, India has been known to be a team of BIG 3…namely, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid. These three are listed amongst some the World’s best batsmen in contemporary cricket. Each one of them is a match winner in their own right. Once the opposition gets these three out, they know that the match is in their pocket. They realize that, if they can get these three out early, India would not be able to put up a decent total or chase a meagre target. Since the ban imposed on the seasoned Azharuddin and the dashing Jadeja, there has been a lot of pressure on these three to perform, as they are the senior most players in the current outfit. Though, Indian selectors are doing a good job of selecting youngsters and giving them a good run, but still they are forgetting of mixing youth with experience. That is where the importance of Robin Singh, Venkatesh Prasad and Srinath’s presence in the team comes into picture. Their absence would mean added pressure not only on the big three, but also on the youngsters who might lose their confidence.

This comes in the light of the fact that, since the ban on Azhar, Jadeja and the absence of Robin, India has not won a match in which there has not been a sizeable contribution from any of the big three. There have been exceptions like the one against the Aussies in the ICC knock out. But, even in that match, the early onslaught of Sachin and Saurav on the Aussie bowlers had set the tone for others to follow. Another match which one can remember is the first one-dayer against Zimbabwe in the home series in 2000. Indians were down and out chasing a target of 250 plus with the top 5 back in the pavilion and the score reading 130 odd for 5. That is where young Badani and keeper Dahiya took over and along with Agarkar saw India home. But, in that match also, Sachin and Saurav had an opening partnership of over a hundred, which made the job much easier for others to follow. And the last match, which comes to mind, is the one against the Zimbabweans in the same series. Indians were without Saurav and they were 122 for 5. Thanks to the efforts of Hemang Badani, promising Reetinder Sodhi and Agarkar India went on to post 301 for 6. In fact, Agarkar broke Kapil’s record of fastest 50 by an Indian.

The point is that a one-off performance by others, like in the matches mentioned above will not help India’s cause. The others would have to produce such performances on a consistent basis, so that it not only eases the pressure on the big three, but also sends positive vibes to the opposition to not take others and the whole team lightly. So, now that Sachin is out of the tournament, it provides the others with a golden opportunity to prove to the world as to what stuff they are made off. Now they have the got the chance, they have to prove that, they will not the go the same way as Vikram Rathore, Praveen Amre, Pankaj Dharmani, Atul Bedade and all who promised more and performed less. It is the time for them to stand up and be counted. They can now perform and show their gratitude to the captain and the selectors for reposing the faith in them. It is the time for the Indians other than the big three that India is just not a team of big three, it is a team of 11 tough nuts who won’t crack easily, so that one can say that, Sachin’s absence has indeed been a blessing in disguise.

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