I envy Indian cricket – they had Tendulkar!

Published: December 26, 2012
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"He went on to score a 50 in the fourth Test in Sialkot and that is when we realised that this man was a special, special talent.” PHOTO: REUTERS

The man has retired. The 49-centuries hero has finally bid adieu to an illustrious 23-year-old career that changed the very definition of Indian batting.

Words fail when you attempt to glorify this cricketing legend. You turn to numbers instead. If 18,426 runs at an incredible average of 44:83 in 463 matches with a record 49 centuries and 96 staggering 50s don’t tell you the story, nothing ever will. Sachin Tendulkar was indeed in a league of his own.

Thank you, little master. Thank you for the memories.

Spoken enough from the mind; here’s what the heart thinks:

Sachin was a great batsman. I envy him. In fact, I envy the whole of India because he represented and scored all those runs for them. I envy him, because if Pakistan had someone of his calibre and class, we would have been a different force today. As much as I hate to admit this, the reality is that Pakistan was a ‘Tendulkar’ away from glory – the glory and success that deserted us throughout the last ten years in one-day cricket.

In 2003, Saeed Anwar retired. He was Pakistan’s run machine, someone who was considered this country’s answer to Tendulkar. It’s been almost 10 years now and believe it or not, we are yet to find an able replacement, an opener extraordinaire, who could tear apart bowling attacks and pile on the runs.

That’s when you realise how Pakistan could have done with a Tendulkar up top. How Pakistani bowlers who more often than not succeeded in restricting the oppositions to mediocre first-inning totals would have loved someone like a Tendulkar to score those runs and avoid the hiccups (read: Pakistan batting’s infamous chasing blues) that earned them the ‘unpredictables’ tag.

When was the last time you saw a Pakistani opener go on a lengthy streak playing with consistency, confidence, flamboyance and flair like Tendulkar?

From the Wastis to the Nazirs, from the Afridis to the Akmals, we’ve seen a whole host of names come and go. But no one, no one was even remotely close to Tendulkar. The harsh reality is that we just couldn’t produce one.

Furthermore, I get atrociously envious thinking about what could have been if we had a Tendulkar playing for us in the 1999 World Cup final or in the disastrous 2003 and 2007 World Cups. My blood boils when I hear that tone of uncertainty in the voice of commentators when we’re chasing a low total. That’s the reputation we have built during the past ten years. A reputation that has developed because of the absence of a Tendulkar.

This also reminds me of the popular argument that most Pakistani fans, including myself, present about all those centuries that Tendulkar scored.

We say:

“Whenever Sachin gets a 100, India lose.”

Oh, who are we kidding?

How does that undermine the misery he piled up on opposition teams?

How was it his fault that the Indian bowlers were not good enough to clean up or restrict the opposition batsmen?

That’s when you think what a wonderful match Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan would have made. A match truly made in heaven.

Sachin’s master class supported by Pakistan’s plethora of bowling talent – it’s the stuff dreams are made of. So don’t blame me for being envious that we weren’t blessed with him.

I speak here as a disgruntled Pakistani fan, who respects Tendulkar from the bottom of his heart, for what he has achieved in the sport, but also hates him with equal intensity for scoring all those runs for our arch-rivals.

I’m envious because Pakistan was indeed a Tendulkar away from glory through all these years.

Wasim Akram, arguably one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, had this to say about Tendulkar upon his retirement:

“Sachin was really 16 at the time when he came to Pakistan in 1989 and Waqar and I thought, ‘What will this 16-year-old do against us?’ I hit him in his face but he still showed a lot of gumption and courage and went on to score a 50 in the fourth Test in Sialkot and that is when we realised that this man was a special, special talent.”

Exactly, Wasim bhai, exactly!

Read more by Emad here, or follow him on Twitter @EmadZafar

Emad Zafar

Emad Zafar

A PR, Communications and Digital Media professional with an undying passion for all things sport, technology, music, media and aviation. He tweets as @emadzafar (twitter.com/EmadZafar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • GhostRider

    Yes I envy them too but m proud that no one has been able to produce Wasim, Waqar, Imran Khan, Sarfaraz Nawaz, Zaheer Abbas, Miandad, Shoaib Akhter….. and etc etc.Recommend

  • Wasim (Not) Akram

    Tendulkar was/is great… Does it mean that Pakistani batsmen are not great.
    Oh… Please come on… Grow Up…
    Pakistan has produced greatest resilient batsmen the world has ever produced. Inzamam was a match winner & far better than Tendulkar in handling pressure. And Yousuf & Younis have always been strong against any opposition on any soil.
    Tendulkar was a legend but Pakistani batsmen are far ahead in mental toughness.Recommend

  • GrimmJow

    The game of cricket will never be talked about without the mention of Tendulkar!

    What a legend.Recommend

  • Bismah

    @ Wasim (Not) Akram:

    Just in case you didn’t realize, he’s talking about Pakistani openers here. Inzi, Yousuf, Younis and co were NOT openers. The truth is we still have not found an opener who belonged to the league of Saeed Anwar or Tendulkar. Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    A Pakistan does not have to envy indian cricket team but should rather sympathize with them as they have no one else but to him to be dependent on.Recommend

  • Salman

    Well put Emad! I miss Saeed Anwar, we all do. And just when Tendulker is gone, we see Kohli who is Tendulker + Aggression. Rest assured India Vs Pak contests will always be special, here’s hoping Mohd Aamir makes come back and is Pakistan’s answer to Kohli. We may have not matched Indians with their batting lineup, but our bowling is world class and I am proud to support a team that has produced the best bowlers to have played the game.Recommend

  • Babar

    I envy Indian Cricket, they had the most selfless cricketer ever.Recommend

  • Nauman

    No doubt Tendulkar was great but please do not forget the luxury he had of having Dravid, Ganguly, Sehwag, Laxman, Azharuddin, etc playing on his side! The media made him larger than life. Tendulkar batted in the earlier part of his career at number 4 (Until ’98). It was the opening partnership with Ganguly that became a blessing for India.

    So when we are talking about Tendulkar, why ignore the likes of Kallis, Lara, Inzamam, Ponting, Hayden and so on. I hardly saw Tendulkar perform with the chips are down! At 15-2 I would rather opt for someone else rather than Tendulkar. When if comes to record, just imagine is Kallis would have made the debut with Tendulkar.

    Pakistan problem with openers is nothing new. We’ll never produce quality openers unless we make the pitches of domestic cricket more lively.Recommend

  • Naila

    Some people are never happy……Recommend

  • Logic

    Presentation of some very shallow thoughts. You want to pay a tribute to a legend (Tendulkar, in this case and I am not disagreeing), fine…..but don’t drag cheap comparisons and analysis to prove a point which is not relevant. Recommend

  • usman

    I envy Lara as he played with most diastrous batting line up. In middle order I envy Javed Maindad because he played most of time the most unpredicable batting partners unlike Tedulkhar who played with Ganguly, Dravid(Wall) Laxman. I envy pakistan cricket with fazal Imran Wasim Waqar Shoaib, Qadir,Saeed Ajmal And Saqlain. Recommend

  • amir

    To me Lara was a match winner and and never a run/record chaser like Tendulkar. Recommend

  • Babar

    and by selfless i meant Rahul Dravid.Recommend

  • sujata

    Truley Sachin was an out class player no comparison….We’ll miss you …..Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    To me its not the batting alone, its also about other things.

    For 23 years, Tendulkar has been an example of humility and behaviour. He has never been in a controversy, never foul mouthed anyone, never even claimed a catch he did not complete, never picked fight with his team mates, never “spot fixed”, never fought for the Captain’s position, never put pressure on the selectors for any reason!

    He set the bar in the Indian team. When Pakistani players were beating each other with bats, asking their team mates to convert to Islam if the one were a non-Muslim or ask the Muslim ones to join some Islamic group, when they were taking drugs to perform better, India produced men of high caliber, who would play in the right spirit. Not only play but dominate!!

    Think about Srinath, Kumble, Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, you name them.. You think of humility, hard work, dedication. They were work horses of the Indian team, examples for all Indians. Icons, my generation will remember forever.

    Tendulkar is the last of his kind.. A 90s player, who provided confidence and played with grace, when we were growing up. Scarcely do players like Tendulkar come along in the Sub-Continent, but there were quite a few in the team who matched his dedication to the game and for THAT India should be proud.Recommend

  • Babar

    @ Anoop.

    Who asked who to convert to islam? stop accusing.Recommend

  • Sab33N

    @ Anoop

    Can you please keep your hateful rant to your self? jeeezz .. Indians are never happy and never let go of any chance to bash Pakistan .. not even when the blog is intended to appreciate an Indian player ..

    @ Writer

    So? Indians should envy Pakistan as well .. they never had Imran Khan, or Wasim Akram or Waqar Younus for that matter. Recommend

  • Adeel

    Have to agree with the writer here. Our opening batting has been vulnerable for over a decade now. We have had all the talent in the world we could have wished for in bowling. But sadly that was never complimented by a world class batsman like Tendulkar.

    I’m sure Indians feel the same about our bowlers though. Recommend

  • From India

    Nice Artical.Recommend

  • good read

    We had Imran Khan, and the whole world envies us for that.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Tandulkar was great batsman but he was never a match winner. Can writer please tell any match in which India was under pressure and Tandulkar takes the responsibility. Recommend

  • Waqas

    @Anoop: you can not judge whole team by few peoples. Ok Tandulkar never involve any controvery I agree but I think you have very short memory so you forgot the incident of Harbanjan and Srisanth. Harbanjan and Symond, Suresh Raina’s link with bookies.

    Before pointing fingers upon others first look at yourself.

    We all agree Tandulkar was great batsman but it does not mean Pakistan never has good players or all members of the team are corrupted.Recommend

  • Sufi

    Nice read. That man was CLASS.

    @Waqas:
    That’s exactly what is being implied in the article. Tendulkar deserved a better bowling lineup than India. Imagine him, Waqar, Wasim and Saqlain playing the same team. Woof!Recommend

  • Muhammad Mustaqeem Yousfani

    he was a good player, no doubt, a key player for India but certainly not a match winning player,Recommend

  • Vinodh

    @Waqas:

    The thing is that whenever sachin plays the pressure automatically goes off. The pressure comes on Indian team only when he gets out.

    1998 Sharjah, India had to qualify and he did it.
    2008/09 CB Series, both the finals. He made youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa play from the other end.
    1994 1 over 6 runs needed for SA to win, he bowled and gave oly 3 runs. India won by 2 runs.
    1998 Australia was cruising to a target of somewhere arnd 290. He came, bowled and took 5/32.

    i can give you a lot more. but i m not a cricket historian, so i dont remember the exact details. Recommend

  • Vinodh

    @Waqas:
    to add further to my statement… go thro this link… it has all the perfect stats…

    http://www.cricketcountry.com/cricket-articles/Sachin-Tendulkar-Busting-the-myths-ignorant-fans-held-against-the-greatest-batsman-in-ODI-history/21399

    if you are still not satisfied, may your soul RIPRecommend

  • Waqas

    @Vinodh: More then 23 years career and you just mentioned few matches as examples infact these are the only matches. The matches you are talking about in 1998 Sharjah Australia came with young team. Fleaming was there main bowler so if they quailify for the final not a big deal. In other match against which you are talking about was played. VB Finals India won the match becasue of Rohit Sharma and Robia Utthapa not becasue of him. I think you forgot 1999 Test against Pakistan in which he was unable to finish the game despite of scoring a century.

    My point is Tandular never played when India needs him. Youvraj,Shewag,Dhoni,Raina are the players on India can rely.

    So chill Recommend

  • Adeel

    @Vinodh:

    Funny how two out of the four instances you have mentioned are about bowling and not batting.

    Also, the other two, he still didn’t win the match.

    Nevertheless, great batsman and deserved a better bowling lineup. Him and Pakistan would have been magical. Recommend

  • Vinodh

    @Waqas I dont wanna argue wit u guys and and waste my time, thats y i gave a link , incase if u have missed out.. here it is again http://www.cricketcountry.com/cricket-articles/Sachin-Tendulkar-Busting-the-myths-ignorant-fans-held-against-the-greatest-batsman-in-ODI-history/21399…. i already said i cant list all the instances…. CB Series 2008 finals we won bcoz of Sharma & Uthappa… R u kidding?? hve u ever once watched those matches fully ? first go and watch and come back and argue here… sachin scored a unbeaten century in first final and a 91 in second final … sharma played in first final and uthappa in second final…. ok ? first get ur facts right …. and also there are lot more than jus playin and scoring runs… for instance both sharma and uthappa had said in post match press meets and in some other journals that sachin was the one who made them play wit cool and composure against the daring australian attack… infact in few instances during the match when they played some rash risky shots, sachin would walk down the pitch all the way to the other side of the pitch and spoke to them… jus like ganguly did for KKR during IPL ….
    @Adeel i jus mentioned them to say that he was almost a allrounder, until his tenis elbow surgery, post which u couldn’t bowl wit much pace as before …. and for ur stmt that other two he didnt won… in sharjah he walked on his own, even when the umpire didnt raise the finger, had he stayed like other players like Ponting we would have won, maybe ….. (go and watch the video in youtube incase u haven’t seen) …. and for CB series first final he was 117* (120), isnt that winning the match in whole ? bcoz i thought it is… sry if i m wrong … and for the second final, india batted first and he scored 91… wht do u want him to do ? come back once the australian innings is over and hit a boundary and win the game which we already won and stay in notout …. first know wht a cricket means dude ….
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%9308CommonwealthBank_Series

    one thing that we all have to agree, the one which this article is mainly based upon, is that we never had a strong bowling lineup like u guys, had that had happened, we would have been invincibles for more than past 2 decades …. but for that to happen we would have to go back in TimeMachine to 1947 and rewrite the history, which is not gonna happen :( ….. Recommend

  • Adeel

    @Vinodh:
    The moment I saw you post a Wikipedia link to support your argument, my interest in this conversation ended. Recommend

  • Waqas Baig

    For sure Tendulkar is a world class player and he really defines ODI but my dear as far as World Cup final of 1999 is considered i guess even he would have failed because Tendulkar Played 2 world cup finals (2003 vs Australia scoring only 4 runs C7B McGrath and in WC 2007 i guess he didn’t score more than 25 runs) and he failed on the day when India really needed him.
    Indeed Pakistan really never produced anyone like him. Not even India Produce like him. For those people who thinks that Virat kholi can be Next “Tendulkar” are living in fools world. I do agree that virat kholi is a very talented batsman and he can even surpass the record of Sachin but the way sachin played, “Head Down” 23 years without sledging and with greatness, is far away from virat kholi.
    Only against Pakistan he was not that much impressive as compare to other countries.
    Anyways it’s a bitter truth but for sure he is indeed a great PlayerRecommend