Just before the Indian team left for New Zealand, I'm sure many fans in India read an article in one of the newspapers titled "Sach a Grey Area". As the title suggests, it was about the Little Master's inclusion in the ODI team. The writer felt it was time Sachin concentrated on tests like how Laxman and Dravid currently (and forcefully) do.
I dont know about others, but as a hardcore Sachin fan, I was seething with anger after reading the article. I hated the way it criticised Sachin in audacious ways one can never imagine, for example, blaming him for getting the wrong decisions against Sri Lanka and describing his knocks in the CB series finals as slow and over-cautious.
Well, after his performance so far, I have completely forgotten about the article but one thing keeps popping in my head. Daniel Vettori had said that New Zealand fear Sehwag the most and are aiming to get him out very early. All fine and dandy, but as that article pointed out, there was a time when teams felt the shivers when Sachin was coming out to bat and Vettori completely knocked over that theory.
Anyway, after seeing the way he played in the second ODI, I had a feeling something big is coming. Something never seen before, and how right I was! Tendulkar played an innings so '97-like. On so many occasions he put his right foot out of the way and smashed the ball through the offside. On so many occasions he shuffled across in order to achieve the perfect sweep, which on many occasions the ball crossed the ropes.
It was a Sachin we have'nt seen in years. He looked like the 16-year-old lad once again thrashing bowlers left, right, and centre and by the 44th over he was on a mammoth 163 of just a bit above 130 balls. If it wasn't for the injury, I think another record was for the taking for the Master Blaster.
But why is Sachin still criticism's bunny?
So many think its time he retires. Why doesn't anyone ask Jayasuriya to retire? We Indians think that if Sachin gets a duck, he is useless. If he scored a century, he is back to being God. There was a time when people were beaten up for insulting him. Now, there are so many people criticising that they can easily overpower the fighters.
But those who understand cricket will know, Sachin will always be the greatest cricketer to be alive. He may even be better than The Don, but that is another argument.
He holds all the important World Records and those who think WRs are not important then one should know, he is the classiest player alive. He has maybe the most beautiful cover drive in his arsenal. His head should by high in the sky, but they are firmly put at five and a half feet from the ground. He is the most humble, honest, and he has achieved more than anyone will in ten lives.
He is Sachin Tendulkar.