India has a golden opportunity, says Sachin Tendulkar

Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar. File

Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Australia’s batting is fragile and its attack will have to think on how to dismiss a strong Indian line-up

An 18-year-old Sachin Tendulkar won the approving nod and admiration of the Australian cricket fraternity when he scored an unconquered 148 in the first innings of the Sydney Test and then followed it up with 114 in the first innings of the Perth Test — both on his debut tour down under in 1991-92.

Tendulkar’s ability to negotiate the bouncy Australian tracks and, that too, against the likes of Craig McDermott, Bruce Reid, Merv Hughes, Paul Reiffel and Mike Whitney established his credentials early on as a batsman of supreme talent.

Tendulkar scored 1809 runs in Australia, at a staggering average of 53.21. India captain Virat Kohli needs just eight runs to reach the milestone.

Sportstar spoke to Tendulkar recently as Kohli’s India gets ready to take on the Aussies in a four-match Test series.

What does Australia demand of a young cricketer touring the country? In England it is swing, in Australia it could be the bounce…

It’s the hardness of the surface, pace and bounce. Things have changed dramatically, though. When I played there in the 1990s, there were not many high-scoring games in Perth. Sometimes 500 would be scored in both innings put together. But if you see in the last decade or so, Perth has been a hunting ground for the batters. They score there in hundreds. Last time England played Australia, close to 1300 runs were scored in just three innings.

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When you are travelling to these places, the opening pair becomes very critical. In fact, 1, 2 and 3 and sometimes, even No. 4 get in quickly. The responsibility of 1 to 3 is to play out almost the first 30 overs. But that again boils down to the surfaces that you get to play. I said before the start of the England tour that the first 40 overs are critical, after that the ball loses its hardness. There might be a little bit of swing later on, but it just gives you the time to adjust; when the ball is new, the hardness of it does not give you the time.

India has a golden opportunity, says Sachin Tendulkar

In Australia, the first 30-35 overs are going to be very critical when the ball is new and the seam is upright. Then the seam kind of flattens and fast bowlers may not find zip off the pitch. The first 35 overs would be critical unless they provide green tops where all the bowlers will be in the game longer.

Do you think the top order and lower order have to contribute more on this tour?

The batters have to score 350-plus runs and that’s when the bowlers are able to put pressure. But it works both ways, if we were to bowl first, then it is equally important for our bowlers to not allow the opposition to go beyond 300 to 325. Otherwise, our batters come under pressure. With 220 or 240 it’s difficult, because the captain is forced to open out his field much sooner, but if you have runs on the board, you can prolong that.

How would you view the current Australian team?

The Australian team is not settled. It doesn’t require me to say that, everyone says so. Its batting relied heavily on David Warner and Steve Smith and so that is fragile right now. Its bowling attack is decent, but it will have to think on how to dismiss a strong Indian batting line-up to stay in the game. India has a golden opportunity (to win a Test series in Australia).

Nathan Lyon has picked 318 wickets in 80 Tests. No other finger spinner in the last two decades or so — like Muralitharan, Swann, Harbhajan or Ashwin — has made an impact in Australia...

A lot boils down to how many left-arm seamers a team has. When left-arm seamers are playing, Nathan Lyon is always going to be in the game. Where there is pace off the surface and bounce and with the rough, everything you edge is going to carry. That creates a lot of opportunities and Lyon has been good.

Sourav Ganguly said Rohit Sharma is at his peak and should be given an extended run in Test cricket. Do you agree with his assessment?

Rohit has played well and I thought even in South Africa in the second Test match, the partnership in the fourth innings was rather good. He had played out that session (morning session of the fifth day) really well. He had left the ball and right ahead of lunch we had lost a wicket. But had that continued till tea, it would have been different. It’s just round the corner and he needs to continue pressing the accelerator as hard as possible.

However, I am not involved in the processes of planing strategy and it wouldn’t be right to sit out and comment on it. There are a number of things which happen in the dressing room and I leave it to the management to decide who will play and how long will he play because they understand it better as they are practising with them and are aware of the mental condition, the physical state and also the pitch conditions. They have all the knowledge to make an informed decision.

For the full interview, read the next issue of Sportstar.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 8:49:23 PM |

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