I was restless on my bed exactly 3 years ago at 3 am on March 24, 2007. Indian team was out of the world cup 2007 in league stage. Like all the Indian cricket fans I too was very disappointed with the team’s performance. However unlike other fans instead of cursing the players, I was thinking about the players’ state of mind, especially of the Little Master’s Sachin Tendulkar. Sehwag and Dravid were sitting outside the dressing room with him and through the eyes, you could even see the pain that they were going through. Nobody wants to lose!

But then the Indian Cricket fans (or the sub continent fans) are different from the world. Next morning, I opened the idiot box and as expected, media had not spared anyone, in exploiting the sadness and turning it into backlash towards the players. With the news items like all the seniors/non performing should be sacked from the team immediately, it sparked a feeling of angst and hatred amongst the public. In the central Indian city of Indore, dozens marched with what they described as “a funeral of Indian cricket”. It was just madness all over. They didn’t stop over there, the players’ home were not safe, the fans started shouting and pelting stones onto every player’s home. Dhoni’s house in Ranchi was broken by the so called fans. Suddenly the news broke of few fans outside Sachin Tendulkar’s house in Mumbai who were demanding of his retirement. I was amazed to see when a 10 year old boy started giving tips to Tendulkar, on how to defend a ball (as Sachin got bowled in defending the inswinger from Dilhara Fernando). What the hell was going on!

“Tell me, the world has gone on talking about all this [our defeat and exit] but has anybody spared a thought for us?,” asked an emotional Tendulkar. “Did they try to find out what we have been going through? I am shattered beyond words and I feel helpless. I’ve never felt so bad in my entire career,” he said. “No matter how many Tests or one-day series you win, nothing else even comes close to a World Cup triumph. The World Cup was our passion, our collective goal, our dream and that has been shattered. And we all are terribly disappointed over it.” Sachin, was I not thinking the same?

I switched off the box and turned on my desktop. Being the moderator of the biggest Tendulkar community on Orkut, I had already realized what it could be seen in the SRT community. Total Mess ! The loyalty of the fans was on sake. The fans started leaving the community, saying Sachin has disappointed them and the nation. True! But then what do we actually want? Do we want his head or what? Sachin Tendulkar himself would have been more disappointed than any other person in the world, isn’t it? Cricket is his life and World cup his dream. It was the time when many of us believed that if and Indian Team deserves to win, it was this combination to win the Cup for India. With Ganguly, Dravid, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Uthappa, Zaheer, Kumble, Bhajji in the side, this was Sachin’s best chance to win the Cup.

Except his loyal fans, the whole world went against him, asking for his retirement. From former players to media and to Cricket Administrators all went against the Little Champ. Tendulkar didn’t say anything on his retirement but he did reply to the allegation from the team coach Greg Chappell on his commitment by saying,”Paani sar se ooncha ho gaya hai (Things have gone a bit too far to keep quiet). I’ve given my heart and my soul for 17 years. No coach had mentioned even in passing that my attitude was not correct,” Tendulkar told Times of India. “Cricket has been my life for all these years and will always be.”

India’s next tour was against Bangladesh, Tendulkar looked determined not to throw his wicket or go after the bowling irrespective of the opponent. Scored back to back 100, fans hardly bothered team’s performance against a team like Bangladesh. He scored 254 runs in 2 test matches and they were highest by any player from both the teams. Fans and experts raised the question, Tendulkar scores against the minnows. Tendulkar didn’t reply.

Then started the long tour of England. India was scheduled to play 1 ODI against Ireland, 3 ODIs against South Africa (all in Glasgow), 7 ODIs & 3 test matches against England. Sachin, failing to flick a straighter one from Whelan, got bowled out for just 4 while chasing a target of 170 odd runs. Then arrived the mighty Proteas and Tendulkar showed his class and arrogance in the 3 match series scoring 200 runs (with 2 nineties) and was Man of the Series. Though the test series could not be termed as successful series by his standard as Sachin scored 228 runs. But Tendulkar looked determined not to throw his wicket. He didn’t play a singl rash shot in the entire test series and was bit unlucky to get out on 91, but then his score of 91 and 84 runs did help India to win the series in England after 20 years. In the 7 ODIs against England, he was in top form, scoring 374 runs with two more scores of 90 plus. There were questions raised again that Sachin can’t play short pitch bowling well as was hit by Anderson on helmet’s grill in test series,Tendulkar didn’t reply. Tendulkar scored maximum runs in overall series 574 runs in 10 ODIs and 228 runs in Tests, a grand total of 802 runs.

He didn’t play the Twenty–20 World Cup and under MS Dhoni’s fresh scaptaincy, India won the inaugural T-20 world cup. Questions were raised again, do we really need seniors? It was believed that India won because Sachin, Dravid & Ganguly were not in the team. Tendulkar again didn’t react.

Australia arrived in Oct, just after the T-20 World Cup , India lost the series by 2-5, won in Mohali and Mumbai. The anchor at Mohali was Sachin and Ganguly’s partnership. Dravid lost his place from ODI team, Ganguly’s place was in danger. Sachin scored 278 runs in the series while the second best Yuvraj had just 192 runs.

Shoaib Akhtar and co. were ready to take on the Indians in next series. Tendulkar was at his best in ODI’s especially in Gwalior where he scored 97 runs. The innings was a combination of class and brilliant stroke play. Sad to see him getting so close to 100 and yet not able to score 100. Though he scored 139 runs in test series in 2 tests he played, but that test series clearly belonged to Dada. Sachin scored 259 runs in ODIs next only to Yuvraj by just 13 runs. Questions raised again, Sachin gets nervous in the 90’s and can’t score 100 that easily. Master was again silent.

The Year 2007 went in trying to play the ball in the right place. Showing the determination of how much he wants to stay on the wicket. Sachin Tendulkar was greedy yet again. Though scores were more into 90’s but he looked solid as never before. Tendulkar was scoring again for India. He didn’t say anything in media since the start of Bangladesh test series. But what exactly was going in his mind, could anyone guess?

The new year began in style and controversy. Sachin Tendulkar finally scored a 100 at his most favorite ground Sydney Cricket Ground. The match is more famous for the controversies than any other thing. But nothing affected Sachin’s innings. Sachin kept scoring at all the grounds of Australia. The shot of the series came in the 3rd test match at Perth. Brett Lee to Tendulkar, short ball, Tendulkar was almost ready to let the ball go over his head, but on Perth pitch, the fastest on earth, against one of the fastest bowler, Tendulkar showed what hand eye coordination is all about. How much time HE has to play ball. He played the ball at the very last moment while ducking it. When everyone thought the ball would go past the batsman, Tendulkar showed his class, bent a little bit and then sliced it over the slips to third man boundary. Mark Nicholas was the commentator and his was reaction was, “ That’s awesome ! It’s one for the photographer and one for our memory” .

May be only Tendulkar made that shot looked beautiful. No slog no hard hitting, innovation at its best and a lesson for all the kids, a new way to tackle short pitch balls. Scored 493 runs in 4 test, the top scorer of the series. In CB series final Sachin shows his class yet again. Without doubt, Australia, the best side in the world has always brought best out of Sachin. His 117* in SCG was a treat to watch. India has never won a tri series in Australia before. A drought was over. India won its 1st tri series tournament after the gap of 6 years. Sachin scored 399 runs in 10 ODI’s next only to Gambhir who scored 440 runs. Overall 892 runs on the tour. Question raised: None. Ganguly’s career over in ODIs.

Next 2 series were not good for him, he missed the test series against South Africa and was not in touch against Mendis and Murli in the test series. He wasn’t clueless against Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan, like some of his team-mates, for he often began confidently only to get out in unorthodox ways or to soft shots. From Sachin to Dravid, Laxman to Ganguly, it was a poor series for every senior batsmen. The fab four’s career was on stake. The new question raised, should they get a chance to play together again in test cricket? Are you still expecting a reply from Sachin? No, let the bat speak.

Australia arrived once again, Tendulkar was short of 77 runs in breaking the world record of most number of runs in the test cricket. He did it in the second test at Mohali, that was my 1st day at RBS office and I was fined for reaching the training room late. I forgot I was in office, I was clapping and cheering for every run he scored before reaching the milestone. The atmosphere in cafeteria was like a stadium and in the process I forgot my training. Nevermind, I was happy to pay the fine, may be for the 1st time in my life. Tendulkar breaks his silence after months, “ Success is a process and during that journey sometimes there are stones thrown at you and you convert them into milestones. It’s a great feeling.” Runs kept coming in the entire series and he again was the second highest run scorer from both the teams. 393 runs in 4 test . Gambhir was on top with 463 runs. Ganguly and Kumble retired from test cricket.

Tendulkar didn’t stop there, he played one of the best knock of his test cricket career at Chennai against the Englishmen just after the 26/11 attack. Determined Tendulkar once again played a match winning knock, that too in 4th innings of a test match. The innings which stopped people, fans, experts, media and critics from raising any more question. But not a single time Tendulkar replied them directly. All he did was reply with his bat. 4 back to back Centuries in test cricket and three huge score of 163*, 175 & 200* in ODI within a year time, not to forget his 139 in the tri series finals.

3 years back, cricket fanatics, experts, media wanted Sachin to retire, today they all want him in the T-20 international cricket, though he has already retired from T-20 cricket. Sachin stands by his words. 3 years after the disaster, Tendulkar is on the top! Though he was always on top amongst his fans but now on top of every former cricketer’s list, media / experts and cricket fanatic’s list. Tendulkar never reacted to any of the comments/ criticism made on him. The generous Tendulkar not even said anything against any of those critics even after scoring so many runs.

This year I predicted everything correctly about his scores in every match he played. My close friend Alok knows how good I am at predictions when it comes to the Master. My last and final prediction on Sachin Tenudlkar, he will quit from Oneday Cricket and Twenty-20(including IPL) after the World Cup 2011 (irrespective of the result in the World Cup) and will continue to play the test cricket till 2015. But what’s in Sachin Tendulkar’s mind is still a secret and we will only come to know about it through his bat.

The performance of top players since 24th March 2007 till Date:

Sachin Tendulkar
Test : 31, Runs: 2279, Average: 59.12, 100’s: 12, 50’s: 11
ODI: 58, Runs: 2751, Average: 51.90, 100’s: 5, 50’s: 16, Strike Rate: 89.20

Virender Sehwag
Test: 24, Runs: 2536, Average: 61.85, 100’s: 7, 50’s: 9
ODi: 51, Runs: 2094, Average: 42.73, 100’s: 4, 50’s: 11, Strike Rate: 124.71

Mohammad Yousuf
Test: 13, Runs: 878, Average: 38.17, 100’s: 1, 50’s: 5
ODi: 46, Runs: 1716, Average: 47.66, 100’s: 3, 50’s: 12, Strike Rate: 79.88

Yuvraj Singh
ODi: 84, Runs: 2797, Average: 39.95, 100’s: 5, 50’s: 16, Strike Rate: 92.70

Ricky Ponting
Test: 33, Runs: 2532, Average: 45.21, 100’s:6, 50’s: 15
ODi: 74, Runs: 2903, Average: 44.66, 100’s: 6, 50’s: 20, Strike Rate: 83.51

Kevin Pietersen
Test: 37, Runs: 2913, Average: 47.75, 100’s: 10, 50’s: 8
ODi: 54, Runs: 1573, Average: 36.58, 100’s: 4, 50’s: 8, Strike Rate:80.62

Jacques Kallis
Test: 30, Runs: 2413, Average: 53.62, 100’s: 10, 50’s: 8
ODi: 49 , Runs: 1965, Average: 49.12, 100’s: 2, 50’s: 16, Strike Rate: 78.66

MS Dhoni
Test: 28, Runs: 1722, Average: 50.64, 100’s: 3, 50’s: 14
ODi: 93, Runs: 3433, Average: 56.27, 100’s: 5, 50’s: 23, Strike Rate:85.52

Greame Smith
Test: 29, Runs: 2514, Average: 55.86, 100’s: 9, 50’s: 8
ODi: 43, Runs: 1772, Average: 44.30, 100’s: 2, 50’s: 17, Strike Rate:86.82

Mike Hussey
Test: 33, Runs: 2226, Average: 42.00, 100’s: 6, 50’s: 11
ODi: 77, Runs: 2391, Average: 48.79, 100’s: 0, 50’s: 20, Strike Rate: 86.41

Gambhir
Test: 18, Runs: 2114, Average: 66.06, 100’s: 8, 50’s: 8
ODi: 77, Runs: 2668, Average: 41.04, 100’s: 6, 50’s: 17, Strike Rate: 86:65

Rahul Dravid
Test: 32, Runs: 2221, Average: 42.71, 100’s: 6, 50’s: 12

Conclusion from the above stats:
• He is the third highest run getter in last 3 years. Sachin scored 5030 in 89 matches. Ponting on top with 5435 runs in 107(18 more matches than Sachin) matches followed by MS Dhoni who scored 5155 runs in 121(32 more matches than Sachin) matches.
• Tendulkar and Dhoni are the only players who have average more than 50 in both form of the game.
• Tendulkar topped with overall 17 centuries, followed by Gambhir who has 14.
• Sehwag on top when it comes to strike rates in ODI with 124.71 runs per 100 balls, followed by Yuvraj (92.70) and Sachin Tendulkar (89.20)

The above stats clearly shows that why Sachin is the number one batsman in the last 3 years. Are you reading Mr Ian Chappell? Ian Chappell wrote in his column “If Tendulkar had found an honest mirror three years ago and asked the question: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the best batsman of all?’ It would’ve answered: ‘Brian Charles Lara’. “If he asked that same mirror right now: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall should I retire?’ The answer would be: ‘Yes.”

If Ian Chappell has found a mirror right now and asked the question: “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the best batsman of all? It will answer:’Sachin Tendulkar’. “If he asks that same mirror right now: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall should I retire from writing?’ The answer would be: ‘Yes,”.

I hope Kapil Dev would stop cribbing after checking these stats. In every second innings of Sachin in past three years he just said one thing, I want to see him play like the young Tendulkar, the Tendulkar of 90’s. Here you go Mr Dev, Sachin is scoring almost at the strike rate of 90, better than all the contemporary cricketers.

Ian Chappell in 2007
At the moment, he looks like a player trying to eke out a career; build on a glittering array of statistics, if he really is playing for that reason and not to help win as many matches as he can for India, then he is wasting his time and should retire immediately.”

Ian Chappell in 2010
It’s not just the number of runs he’s scored in this prolific period (although four Test centuries in six innings is pretty impressive); rather it’s the manner of his run-gathering. In his scintillating 175 against Australia and the double-century that demolished South Africa, it was his dominance that stood out. Both innings rattled along at much better than a run-a-ball,s and when he is regularly punching drives off the back foot you know Tendulkar is master of all he surveys.

Rameez Raja in 2007
“I would want to see him play regularly for India in Test matches, maybe not so in One-day cricket. You need little more fire power in One-day cricket and the youngsters can provide that fire power. “Of late, his graph has been going down and though he is averaging around 50, he has not been winning matches for India for quite a few years. You need bit of experience and class (in Test cricket) and certainly Sachin has that experience and class and maybe he will be of use to India in Test cricket.”

Rameez Raja in 2010
“He’s been a great ambassador for India and world cricket, He is a great role model because for someone who has played international cricket for 20-odd years there isn’t a single scandal against him. It shows the character of the man and he still has the passion and enthusiasm of a 10-year-old.”

Kapil Dev in 2007
“Sachin Tendulkar should retire. A player should know when his time is over, like Gavaskar. People asked him, why now? Instead of why not retiring.”

Kapil Dev in 2010
“Sachin has touched several milestones during his 20-year career in the international cricket. He certainly deserves the Bharat Ratna. We will be very happy if he gets the highest honour of the country, Even if Sachin would have got a duck in this innings, still I would say that he deserves the honour. No decision should be taken on the basis of performance in one match, but I am keeping in mind his overall contribution.”

Times Of India in 2006
Endulkar – On Sachin’s retirement

Times of India in 2010
‘Tendulkar is Almighty now’

How things have been changed from 2007 to 2010. Its hard to believe people commented and had doubt on the India’s biggest icon and most favourite son. Enough have been said about the year 98. Enough have been said about his 200 at Gwalior. Its time to shut our mouth and let the master’s bat speaks for him and his fans. Things have turned around again and to conclude everything there can’t be a better saying than the one follows. As the famous placard during the Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Daredevils read “ Sachin Tendulkar— Reducing the number of atheists since 1989.”