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Time to match mindset with No.1 status

india Updated: Dec 25, 2010 17:52 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times
Pradeep Magazine

Sachin Tendulkar's longevity, his child-like passion for making runs despite advancing age and his mastery over his craft needs no validation.

His name itself is synonymous with all that is best in sport and there is no point in wasting words on how great he is.

Even if he had not scored his 50th Test hundred or fails to score a century of centuries in international cricket, he will remain an epitome of perfection and a mirage for other sportsmen to chase.

The Centurion Test will be remembered in India more for the milestone Tendulkar achieved than the humiliating defeat they suffered, and that I am not sure is how we should look at sporting contests in a team game.

We are a nation obsessed with records where the number of wickets taken, centuries scored always get precedence over the number of defeats we suffer.

This was true of the times when we could hardly win and an individual's brilliance would be the best balm to nurse our bruised egos.

I still remember the 1996 Edgbaston Test in England where Tendulkar's dazzling hundred more than made our day, otherwise a routine one as India had lost one more match. I still remember my copy that day from Birmingham was more on the genius of Tendulkar, how he had shown the cricketing world what batting is all about and less on the fact that we had been mauled. It was a century which was a Tendulkar classic, full of audacious strokes, aggression and a defence in which he met the pace of Lewis and Cork on a treacherous wicket with front foot dead bat defence as if he was facing spinners.

That innings, like a number of others by him, was a work of a perfectionist, who not only understands the grammar of batting to its last syntax, but can even create its own set of new rules.

Instead of drowning ourselves in the sorrow of one more loss, we all celebrated the magic of an innings which restored our pride and dignity in the eyes of the world.

In today's time, when we are the No. 1 side in the world, this mindset has to change and I would like to believe that the euphoria that followed Tendulkar's scaling an unimaginable peak is a welcome aberration, given the enormity of his achievement.

The celebrations are justified but not at the expense of forgetting the hurtful innings defeat we were handed out by our adversaries.

Even before this tour began, the South Africans were mocking at our No. 1 status by citing our miserable record in their country.

Ian Chappell had once said that the difference between Australia and India is that if Waugh scores a hundred and Australia lose, no one gives a damn about the hundred. In India, if Tendulkar scores a century and India lose, no one gives a damn about the loss.

This was spoken when Australia were invincible and India among the also-ran.

Today, the world order has changed and we take great pride in our being the best Test team in the world.

As we go into the Durban Test, we hope that our batsmen have taken inspiration from Tendulkar's resistance and our medium pacers don't bowl like inert zombies, like they did at the Centurion.