Sachin’s 100th

In the end it was quite appropriate. That the needlessly hyped “false statistic” of Sachin’s 100 100s came about in a match against a supposed minnow, in an inconsequential tournament, which didn’t even help India win the game. The hype surrounding this statistic had become unbearable, both for normal cricket fans and also for Sachin, perhaps. And that could be seen in his batting over the last one year, in England and in Australia. There was a distinct feeling that every time he just kept playing for his century, and not for the team cause, and the only upshot of his “100th 100″ is that the monkey is finally off his back and hopefully Sachin can go back to playing normal cricket.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of other milestones round the corner. He now has 49 ODI 100s, so now people will hype up his 50th. And as someone pointed out on facebook yesterday, he has 199 international wickets! Hopefully that means he starts turning his arm over once again, with his lethal spinning leg-breaks and long hops.

The thing with Sachin is that he has always seemed to be statistically minded (irrespective of what he says in his interviews). The mind goes back to Cuttack during World Cup 1996, when he played out two maiden overs against Asif Karim while trying to get to his 100 (against Kenya). Even in recent times, including in 2007 when he got out in the 90s a large number of times, it is noticeable how he suddenly slows down the innings once he gets into the 90s. He gets nervous, starts thinking only about the score, and not about batting normally.

In that sense, it is appropriate that this meaningless statistic of a hundredth hundred came about in a game that India lost, to a supposed minnow. It was a “batting pitch”. As Raina and Dhoni showed in the latter stages of the innings, shotmaking wasn’t particularly tough. And yet, what did Sachin do? Plod at a strike rate of 75 for most of the innings, including in the crucial batting powerplay just so that he could get to his 100. I don’t fault his batting for the first 35 overs. He did what was required to set up a solid foundation, in Kohli’s company. But in the batting powerplay, instead of going for it, the only thing on his mind was the century. Quite unfortunate. And appropriate, as I’ve said a number off times earlier.

Again, I want to emphasize that I’m NOT an anti-Sachintard. I’ve quite enjoyed his batting in the past, and there is no question that he is one of the all-time great cricketers. I’m only against meaningless stat-tardness. And it was this retardation about a meaningless stat that prevented Sachin from giving his best for the last one year.

3 thoughts on “Sachin’s 100th”

  1. His 100 100s apart, do you think it befits a man who is bestowed so much love and respect by his country men to declare himself an actor to evade taxes and to play ‘personal statistic-mindedly’ in a team game? I don’t understand how people overlook these shortcomings. To me these are not minor foibles but pretty fatal flaws. In any other country (with the possible exception of Pakistan which played Javed Mianded in the 1996 world cup for some strange fetish of his), playing for self above the team is a pretty damning flaw.

    So, I do identify myself more as a Dravid fan rather than, as you put it, an “anti-Sachintard”. But I do have an appreciation for why the population of “anti-Sachintards” among thinking cricket fans is growing by the day.

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  2. Totally agree with you. I would actually go as far as to say that his statistically mindedness hampered his batting not only for the last 1 year, but since 2007 or perhaps even earlier. He has done quite well since 2007, but somehow I always got the feeling that he was holding back, afraid to play shots, nudge around meaninglessly because of some belief or notion that he had to accumulate runs instead of just enjoying himself.

    I take this opportunity to rant a bit. I have never forgiven him for the 2007 WC loss although it probably was a collective batting failure that did us in. His innings against bangladesh in the 2007 WC was such a pathetic display of inhibition that we just lost the momentum. He got what, some 3 in 23 balls? He was just unwilling to take the attack to the BD spinners, pottering around miserably until he inside edged onto his pads and was taken by the keeper. This was again a case of holding back, but one due to fear of losing his wicket, rather than for a statistical milestone. For supposedly the best batsman in the world, this was as pathetic as it can get. His penchant for numbers and his inhibitions when batting are the two things that has made me lose all respect for him as a batsman. I used to be a big fan of his, but I just cant bring myself to like his batting nowadays. Forgot to mention the drastic cut down on the strokes he plays nowadays. I havent seen him pull or hook a ball since ages. He always ducks or when its quicker, he takes it on his helmet. There is something creepily implicit when a batsman takes it on his head. You know that he just isnt quick/good enough to handle short pitched deliveries.

    I remember this match against SL in Sharjah where he played for his 100. It was pure torture watching him in that innings. He just took an eternity to get to his hundred (around the 45th over), tried to slog as soon as he got to the landmark but ran himself out in the end. Talk about wasting balls and then getting out.
    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65894.html

    That felt good. Writing that made me realize why exactly I loathe Sachin so much. Sorry about the rant on your blog though.

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