Sachin faces his greatest test this season, starting with the Champions League T20. Approaching a record 25th season in competitive cricket, he faces the stiffest challenge of his spectacular career.
The dice is loaded against him — at 40, more than twice the age of many others in the field. Sachin’s body is dented by age and injuries. His recent form has been erratic, and his bat has lost the magic. Gone is the certainty of the past. Now, he struggles to produce an innings of substance. With balls flying past the edge rather than off the middle of the bat, bowlers feel they have a decent chance against him.
As runs dry up and batting form recedes, voices asking Sachin to reassess his position have grown louder. Yet, as a nation gets hysterical about his upcoming 200th Test and possible retirement, Sachin has maintained mysterious silence.
He refuses to talk about the future, and deflects all loaded questions with an enigmatic response saying he will continue playing till he enjoys the game. That he can ‘enjoy’ the game is in itself astonishing. On the field, he has to battle the opposition and carry the burden of expectations of countless Indians. This would have crushed someone not as strong as Sachin, but he shakes off the pressure and continues to set batting records.
Of course, the situation now is more challenging, and when he steps out in Jaipur for the CLT20, he will for once feel the heat. Before the IPL (he had a modest season), Sachin had an equally modest Test series against Australia. And he has not scored a Test hundred for over two years.
One reason for the recent slump is that Sachin has moved on in life; for him there are other priorities. In the summer, he spent quality time with his family in England. Later, he attended parliament. He also appeared at the IBL and other events to fulfill commercial commitments. That done it is back to serious business as Sachin trains to get ready for another season. Hopefully, it will be one more year of celebration.
The writer is a delhi daredevils official