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Sachin’s in cracking form...

Sachin Tendulkar is another man who gets unnecessarily pilloried for everything he does, writes Ravi Shastri.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2007 02:48 IST

Pakistan are facing a barrage of questions — Shoaib Akhtar lacks rhythm, Shoaib Malik is not pulling his weight; the spinners are not effective, the fielding is awful, the running terrible. That doesn't leave much else! But I think their defence exist.

Mohammad Yousuf is being criticised for batting selfishly, that he never shifted gears during his knock of 99 and ran out Younis Khan. But I don't think it was a selfish innings, for he came in after Pakistan had suffered their customary early stutters. The fact is, Yousuf is irreplaceable.

Sachin Tendulkar is another man who gets unnecessarily pilloried for everything he does. He fell in the 90s for the sixth time this year, he is in a rare form. He batted positively and his foot movement reminded people of Tendulkar of old. Back to Pakistan — everyone wants to know why Malik chose to bat first. He obviously hoped to rack up 275-plus and expected his pacemen to make things tough for India on a wicket with dew settling on it. But Pakistan's bowling was lame.

Malik is under pressure. Pakistan have lost to India in India for the first time in 24 years, his form isn't great and he must be struggling to command the respect of his men. But he must not allow all this to bother him. He needs to be positive and lead from the front, bat at the top and bowl more.

India, on the other hand, are a cracking unit. MS Dhoni and Yuvraj are immovable in the middle, and thus Robin Uthappa hasn't had much of a hit, but India would take that. With the series won, India could now try a few youngsters. Sehwag should be kept in, for he's showing signs of returning to form. India must be happy with the bowling options they have --- Ganguly, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj are all handy with the ball, giving the regulars some respite.