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The effects of the Tendulkar injury - Suneer Chowdhary column
by Suneer Chowdhary
Sep 21, 2008
The inevitable has occurred. Sachin Tendulkar's elbow, which has been the 'bone' of contention for some time now, seems to have played up again and the little champion has decided to give the Irani Trophy match a skip. His absence from the Rest of India squad that takes on the Ranji Trophy Champions, Delhi, would definitely be felt by his team, as they take on a relatively stronger looking Delhi side. Rather surprisingly, Tendulkar had declared himself to be fully fit earlier, however, Paul Close, the NCA's physiotherapist has signalled otherwise, which means that the otherwise frail-looking batting line-up of the RoI squad has been denigrated further.

To begin with Tendulkar himself, one cannot help but feel a little quizzical. By now, he would have obviously known of the healing time that his own body needs, and even if he is not a certified doctor, he would have had the advice of many such qualified personnel. Why then would he have declared himself fit, only to be overruled by the official doctor is beyond me. And it has not been the first time such an instance has occurred in Tendulkar's career. Immediately after returning from the Australian tour, John Gloster had declared that Tendulkar's groin needs a definite rest from the rigors of cricket, for a certain period of time. The maestro had thought otherwise, and had gone on to play in the first home test match against the visiting Proteas. The injury had obviously aggravated, and the result was the loss of Tendulkar from the remaining two test matches and for at least half of the Indian Premier League. This time, Team India has been luckier. If Tendulkar had had actually gone on to play - as he had deemed - and worsened his 'Achilles Heel', his elbow, it would have been a huge dent to India's chances in the vital series against Australia.

Moving on to the affect that Tendulkar's absence would have, it consists of a bit of both sides of the world. On one hand, it leaves a gaping hole in the RoI's batting line-up, but then, on the other, it allows a couple of the 'new' guys, like Mohammad Kaif and S. Badrinath a chance to prove themselves to be a viable replacement for Sourav Ganguly. For starters, RoI was to go into the match with only six batsmen - including M.S. Dhoni - and Parthiv Patel had been tipped to open the inning. With this unfortunate injury, the batting line-up would have read something like this: Parthiv Patel, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif and M.S. Dhoni. However, S. Badrinath should be the most likely replacement for Tendulkar, thus giving him a huge opportunity to knock the selectorial door down.

The biggest con though is that if one were to look at it from the match's standpoint, Delhi should now be firm favourites to win it. Sourav Ganguly had already been left out of this set of 'probables', and without Tendulkar, the batting seems to be both, inexperienced, and weak. I may also be talking a little ahead of time, but it also seems almost surreal and could also very well be the sign of things to come very soon. It looks to be a precursor, so to say, of the future of Indian test cricket.

For now though, Delhi looks to hold all the aces, and it would take a mammoth effort by the RoI side to overcome the Ranji Trophy Champions.

From the forthcoming Australian tour's perspective, Tendulkar joins the list of at least three other cricketers, who haven't had competitive cricket for some time now. With Ricky Ponting, Matt Hayden and Brett Lee having being left out of some of Australia's previous series this year, Tendulkar wouldn't have played competitive cricket for almost two months by the time the first test is underway. Incidentally, Ponting has been out for almost four months, while Hayden's injury goes back even further in time.

And like everything else, there could be two ways of looking at it. For one, it would be of a great relief and rest that Tendulkar's body would have done well with, but on the other hand, the rust-factor would always be there. This would be a far cry from Tendulkar's preparation for the 1998 series against Australia. Then, he had had Laxman Sivaramakrishnan bowl to him outside the leg-stump on a pitch so scuffed up, that it would have given the wrinkles on my grandmother's face a run for her money. With Tendulkar having not had a great series against Sri Lanka - he had faced only 155 deliveries in the whole series - and also not having held the bat in the figurative sense of the word since then, Tendulkar would go into the series a trifle under-prepared, something that Tendulkar himself would not enjoy. So, Tendulkar may get fit by the time the first test is around, but the question that would remain on everyone's lips would be whether he is match fit and attuned enough to be there?

Time, as they say, should be the best judge.
 
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