He was India’s first to hit good balls for runs: Manjrekar on Sachin Tendulkar’s impact in the 90s
Former cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar claims the Indian cricket team of the 1990s was heavily dependent on Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar, a former teammate of Manjrekar, was the leading ODI run-scorer between 1990 and 1999, compiling 8571 runs, and sixth-highest in Tests with 5626. But Tendulkar mostly emerged as a one-man army as India’s Win/Loss ratio in the 90s stood at was 1.016, having won 122 of the 257 ODIs played.
“Sachin Tendulkar the batsman made his debut in 89. In just about a year, he got an 80 in New Zealand, he got his first hundred in England and by 91/92, the world was looking at him as a world-class player,” Manjrekar told India offspinner R Ashwin during a chat on Instagram Live.
“The age was always a factor, just 17 years old. And the way he was dominating quality attacks. For us in the team, there was no doubt that this guy was in a different league.”
The sight of Tendulkar carrying the burden of the whole team single-handedly was a common sight in the 90s. While the rest of the batsmen mostly struggled on hard, bouncy wickets abroad, Tendulkar would peel off centuries against the best bowling attacks – his knocks of 114 and 148 at Perth and Sydney in 1992, a masterful 111 and 169 vs South Africa at Johannesburg (1992) and Capetown (1997) remain a testament to his genius.
By the time Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid announced themselves on the international scene in late 1996/early1997, the batting responsibilities began being shared between the three. However, between 1990 and 1997, Manjrekar reckons it was all Tendulkar.
“Unfortunately, by 96/97, the team was really too dependent on Tendulkar. Because, you know, he was damn consistent. And he was India’s first batsman who was able to dominate and hit good balls for runs,” he said.
“Until then, India was about defensive batting and putting the bad balls away, like Sunil Gavaskar. A couple of sessions of giving respect to the bowler and then, you know, as they tire out, you get a loose ball and you score off it. Sachin would hit a good ball from a quality bowler on the up for four.”