Sachin Tendulkar getting clean bowled on Indian pitches in a jam- packed stadium is nothing less than a nightmare for Indian fans. But unfortunately, the fans have gone through such a sight thrice now in Tendulkar’s successive innings against New Zealand in the home series.
As Tim Southee rattled Tendulkar’s stumps at the Chinnaswamy stadium in the second innings, the jubilant Kiwi camp got into a huddle and the crowd witnessed one of the rare moments of Tendulkar’s career. It was a similar delivery which had knocked his stumps in the first innings; the ball found its way between the pad and the bat and Tendulkar completed his hat-trick. But it was Tendulkar’s reaction after the dismissal which was worth noticing.
The sound of the ball hitting the timber is one of the most humiliating moments for a batsman. The moment he missed the line, Tendulkar knew he was gone, which meant the end of another struggle at the crease for him. Tendulkar turned and ‘almost’ smashed the cricket ball in absolute frustration, something which we have rarely seen him do before in his phenomenal 23-year-old career.
It was just two days back that former Indian cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Sanjay Manjrekar questioned Tendulkar’s foot work after he perished to a fuller length delivery from Doug Bracewell. One of Sachin’s biggest admirers, Sunil Gavaskar, reckoned that it was age which was taking its toll on Sachin’s footwork, which at one stage bothered the best of the bowlers around the globe. His critics joined in and it fanned the flames of the debate on whether the Master Blaster is blocking the way for the youngsters in the team.
The batting maestro who recently got the monkey off his back by hitting the much-awaited hundredth ton against Bangladesh has once again found himself in one of the toughest phase of his career. As the Kiwis breached through his defence on three successive occasions, his critics have once again questioned whether the Master should call it a day.
The critics aren’t too bothered about the way in which Raina, Gambhir, Sehwag have played throughout the series, but Tendulkar’s struggle on home turf is something they can’t digest. While he scored 19 in Hyderebad, with scores of 17 and 27 at Bangalore, the 39-year-old has disappointed his fans to a great extent.
It was the similar story with Rahul Dravid, who had a horrendous tour in Australia where he was bowled on most of the occasions. ‘The Wall’ hung his boots earlier this year and even the stylish VVS Laxman, who was being criticized for his poor run in Tests, surprisingly retired ahead of the Test series between India and New Zealand.
Tendulkar is 39 years old and now many think it is the right time for him to call it a day and make way for youngsters like Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary. India now has Cheteshwara Pujara who is being hailed as the apt replacement for Dravid at the No. 3 position. They have Kohli, who is undoubtedly India’s most prolific batsman in all formats of the game at the moment. And thus, critics, experts and even fans want the Master to draw curtains on his glittering career before its too late.
But keeping in mind the upcoming home series against England and Australia, one might ask whether India can afford to lose someone like Sachin Tendulkar?