Sunny bats for Sachin

‘Laxman nearing his personal milestone of 50 may have distracted Tendulkar’

New Delhi: Cricketer turned commentator Sunil Gavaskar has suggested that the fact that V V S Laxman was reaching his personal milestone of an individual half century may have been ‘slightly distracting’ to Sachin Tendulkar in the pursuit of the national milestone of scoring his 100th international hundred.

Gavaskar was reacting to the national disappointment of Tendulkar selflessly falling 24 runs short of his 100th international hundred at Ferozshah Kotla against the West Indies.

‘I am not saying that it (Laxman’s record) led to Tendulkar’s dismissal. But allow me to point out that when your batting partner is nearing a personal record it does inhibit your own batting. Laxman’s 50 must have preyed on Sachin’s mind as it was slightly distracting,’ Gavaskar was quoted as saying by the cricket correspondent of a Calcutta-based newspaper.

‘But I will also say that Tendulkar should have got it at the Oval (against England early this year where Tendulkar was out for 91) itself where there was no extra pressure as India was easily losing that match’. (Gavaskar, needless to say, collected the bulk of his career runs in matches that had little purpose. He once scored a century, refusing to get off the park even though the Test match was totally dead and even the post match presentation party had already lined up in the field).

Gavaskar added: ‘Yesterday, Tendulkar tried to play a big shot and get India to victory so that Laxman can score his half-century without any pointless pressure. It is also a fact that Laxman’s record also weighed on Yuvraj Singh. He (Yuvraj) was decidedly overweight all through.’

Tendulkar got out for 76, with Laxman (alarmingly and agonisingly close to his 50) on 33 at the other end. Laxman also hit the winning run without letting his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni even get off the mark. (For the record, because of Laxman, Dhoni collected a ‘pair’ in the match).

Dhoni, for his part, said it was indeed a worry that some individual achievements are hogging the headlines. ‘I don’t want to take names here. But people getting married in the midst of an important series is distracting. Perhaps that person can learn a few tips from a senior like Harbhajan Singh, who has not married so far basically because he still prefers to work on his doosra ’.

Meanwhile Sachin Tendulkar himself pointed out that records matter only in schools and biology classes. ‘I don’t look at my individual score while batting. I always look at the larger picture only. I knew I was at 15,048 career Test runs. But didn’t notice that I had reached 76 in the innings’, he said.

Though Tendulkar might have missed out on his 100th international hundred, he did manage a clutch of records yesterday. Here are some of them:

*Sachin Tendulkar’s 76 at the Ferozshah Kotla was the second highest Test innings score ever by a person attempting to score his 100th international hundred.

*The record for the highest innings score ever for a person chasing his 100th international hundred is incidentally also held by Sachin Tendulkar. He scored 91 against England at Oval early this year, a match India lost by an innings and eight runs. (It was a monumental innings that put to lie the criticism ‘Sachin’s centuries never result in India’s win’. It proved beyond reasonable doubt that even his 90s don’t lead to victories). 

*But Tendulkar’s 76 was decidedly the highest ‘fourth innings’ score ever by a person chasing his 100th international hundred. It was also the highest score at the Ferozshah Kotla and the highest in an India-West Indies series by a person in pursuit of his 100th international century.

*Sachin Tendulkar’s 76 against West Indies is also the top score by an Indian in any match in which the man of the match was from West Mambalam.

*Also, Laxman’s 58 not out is personally his highest individual score in an innings in which Tendulkar scored 76 runs for his team.

(Disclaimer: Even Tendulkar has to do it for Sachin’s sake).