Contributing to victory is vital, writes Makarand Waingankar

Nothing succeeds like success. Though indisputably one of the legends of our time, is Sachin Tendulkar a real match-winner?

This question indicates there are others far more consistent in winning matches for their countries. Admittedly, not many can beat Tendulkar where consistency is concerned but his contribution to winning matches takes a beating compared to Inzamam-ul-Haq and Ricky Ponting.

The yardstick obviously is how many of his centuries have been winning centuries. And how many of these centuries have been scored in the second innings of the match. This, the pundits feel relates to handling of pressure when it matters.

Inzamam’s total number of centuries is 25 but 17 of his centuries helped Pakistan win Tests and the percentage amounts to 68. Ricky Ponting’s 24 Test match-winning centuries are from a total of 38 and the winning percentage is 63 whereas though Tendulkar scored 42 Test centuries, only 16 have helped India in winning Tests. The percentage is as low as 38.

Comparisons

The most important comparison is the number of centuries scored in the second innings. Out of six centuries scored by Ponting five resulted in Australia winning Test matches. That’s 83 per cent. Inzamam had four winning matches out of six centuries — the percentage is 66 but while Tendulkar scored ten centuries, only three saw India win matches. The percentage is 30.

If the styles of these three batsmen are compared, aggression is a common factor but why Tendulkar is not able to convert his second innings centuries into winning ones is something very intriguing looking at the class that he possesses. Is it because of the load of expectations of the country that agitates his mental make-up or perhaps he is unable to handle pressure in the middle?

If one argues that Ponting played for a stronger team, Inzamam certainly didn’t. It was late in his career that Mohd. Yusuf and Yunus Khan added strength to the batting line-up.

In Tendulkar’s case he seemed to enjoy his first innings batting rather than second innings. Apart from the first few years, Tendulkar had the support of Azharuddin, Dravid and Ganguly. Later Laxman and Sehwag joined to make the batting line-up strong.

Kapil Dev feels that Tendulkar seems to think that the more he accumulates runs, the more he will be comfortable, but in cricket when you change your approach you are inviting trouble. Tendulkar on the other hand has gone on record saying that people shouldn’t expect him to do what he was doing a decade ago.

Though one has to agree with Tendulkar’s comment, the fact is that he is unable to do justice to his class by not getting India to win more matches.

This is definitely not a blot on his career but not scoring a triple hundred and not increasing the percentage of the winning matches calls for some introspection before the new season begins.

In ODIs Tendulkar has to set milestones. There is no competition there but the class of a player is judged by the winning percentage in Tests and not in ODIs and T20.

Hopefully Tendulkar will devise a new strategy to work on the winning percentage and if the strategy clicks, the 2009-10 season will be a great one for India.

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper