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Sitting at 15th floor of the Hyatt regency in Dallas, with a night view of the city scrapers in the background, the only thing that flashes is nostalgia. The feeling of growing up, adoring and tirelessly following a true champion in Tendulkar. Suddenly, he is taking one last walk to the 22 yard strip, a test match at his home turf in Mumbai. It must be emotional for many and I for sure cannot hold my tears. It is only a retirement, but wait no. It has been our life in some ways.

Today may well be his last innings with cricket bat in a test match. Stamp of vintage Tendulkar was seen yesterday. Let us hope that he adds a few more of his straight drives and cover drives today.  Never have a farewell touched this close. He was not just a hero, but a pride and a part of my growing up. As he walks to the sunset of a glittering career, a part of me fades from the horizon as well.  The timeless thing of our life, prepares to turn the page! Oh dear life, we have crossed two decades!

Happened to see the highlights of the last test match of 1999  Wi-Aus test series at Sabina park! That great Brian Lara’s knock in 1999 at Sabina Park. Remember watching it late night live on TV. The final tense moments with Ambrose and then Walsh! And of course the Lara’s finishing drive.

This week has been filled with a lot of terrible news. First, the Tendulkar ODI retirement, the unfortunate and sudden demise of a young girl in New Delhi due to atrocity by a few reckless men and now Tony Greig’s untimely death making the day all the more sober.

Tony Greig was a pure excitement at cricket commentary. The energy he generates is simply stunning. He has been a top bracket cricket commentator since the 80s and the void that he leaves aside is going to be huge.

I first heard about Tony Greig (much before seeing him on TV) was while reading about a book on the English Australia test match rivalry where some match in the 1970s in which the former Aussie (again sadly demised) David Hookes’s hitting Tony, the then English captain, for five consecutive fours. It may not be a big thing in the modern era, but hitting something of that kind in the olden era is something I had fancied (even though I was not really born in that era, but growing up in the 80s and 90s, I had such fancies:-)). Both Hookes and Tony Greig somehow etched in my memory, so did Greg Chappell (the Aussie captain for that series). When David Hookes (also a future commentator, died during a freak bar incident) died, the mood was pensive too. Besides that reading, I didn’t have much know hows on Tony Greig’s days as a cricket player, except may be the fact that I was aware of he being part of the infamous Kerry Packer spin-off league and world series cricket.

What he did as a commentator  however is in clear memory. Some one remarked this on the other day, his now famous remark “What a player” on Tendulkar when he played that famous sandstorm knock in the late 1990s. I also remember many of his exciting comments in the India-Australia series in both 1998 as well as 2001, the finishing stages of the famous Calcutta test match comes to my mind where Glen McGrath walks in as the last man, until given out LBW. I don’t think any other commentator could have captured the finishing moments of the greatest test match of all time, as captivating as Tony Greig had done. Beside reading the game very well, the great thing about Tony Greig was that he was also a commentator who had understood the dynamics of cricket fans all over the world. Fans to an extend got what what they wanted and they could in some sense associate to him.

A few weeks back, I had read the sad news about his lung cancer diagnosis, but never realized that was this serious. He will be missed by fans all over the world, big time. Many a times I got the feeling that he has a special liking for Sri Lanka and its cricket! But I could be wrong. Whatever it is, he was loved all over the world. RIP Tony Greig! Thanks for the memories.

Quite shocked to hear the news of Peter Roebuck‘s sudden demise. An incredible cricket columnist Peter was and it was always a wonder to me, on how well he analyzes the games. The earliest recollection of his name to me was when I heard the story about he firing the greats Viv Richards and Joel Garner, the aftermath of which resulted inIan Botham changing the playing county from Somerset etc. Irrespective of his famous acrimony with the stars of that era, his cricketing analysis skill is unparallell. A huge loss to cricket, especially test cricket writing. Hard to think of a natural death for a Wisden award winning cricketer and a man known to be of such strong will, but never know. I hope it is not one of those David Hooke’s kind of story. A tremendous loss to cricket writing.

Come to think of it, I remember his recent article on Australia’s 21/9 collapse in the first test against the South Africans. If that was a tragedy, his death is an even bigger one. After all, cricket was just  a game, but death, boy!

A Facebook feed (through a friend) led me to this nice article on Sachin Tendulkar. The title is “Point to Cover” and the author is Senantix. I liked the Bayesian view of Tendulkar’s performance. Quite simply true. Often, the short memory and incorrect assumptions lead to most of the controversies and criticisms against Tendulkar. As they say, Bayesian can never go wrong!

P(Sachin fails| crisis) = [P(crisis|Sachin fails) x P(Sachin fails)]/[P(crisis|Sachin fails)xP(Sachin fails)+P(crisis|Sachin does not fail)xP(Sachin does not fail)]

I woke up touch early (4am) to watch the final day of the fourth India-England test match at Oval. First, I checked cricinfo and wow, Tendulkar was still batting. After a series of troubles and time outs, I managed to find one video streaming link. He wasn’t at the imperial best, but all looked set for that 100th 100. Other than that momentary hope, there was not even a glimpse of hope in the test match result. Anyway, much like the millions (or billions) all across the globe, I waited to see that 100. But alas! On 91, yet again a 90s misfortune for Tendulkar. Out LBW, somewhat contentious, but not overly outrageous a decision by an umpire anyway. He wasn’t at his imperial best in this series, but he was looking good for one to make that 100th number. Now, we will have to wait again for more from the great man.

Now the England white wash over India in a 4 test match series. The BCCI and the much hopeless cricket administration is putting the nails on the test cricket coffin. What a pity! For them IPL is the cash cow. Everything else is just for time pass. When a lot of money is poured in, even the most respected commentators and ex test cricket players have swallowed tongues. No one will put a blame on preparation. An IPL soon after world cup have paid more than damage to Indian cricket. Half fit players for an all important test series? In the end, made a mockery of test cricket!

The cricket world cup 2011 was at best boring, until yesterday. The Chinnaswami stadium in Bangalore, when all lights were alight, Ireland looking down the barrel at 111/5 with 26 overs to go, in search of the English target of 328, in came Kevin O’Brien. What stuck then onwards was sheer magic. Scintillating innings of power and conviction, which in the end sink the English hope. I cant imagine how berserk the Irish pubs in Dublin would have been last evening, post the most thrilling upsets in the world cup cricket history.

Come to think of it that Ireland has beaten a reasonably in form England by 3 wickets with 5 balls to spare. That too chasing a mammoth target of 328 for a win! If only they had beaten a relatively easy Bangladesh in the earlier match, this pool would have been very interesting. Honestly, the Ireland-Bangladesh match was played on a hopeless pitch, but that is no excuse.

Until yesterday, not many people would have given a chance to Ireland, in spite of the upset victory over Pakistan in the 2007 edition. No one had feared Kevin O’brien this much. But from now on, the teams will be aware of this massive threat, especially on flat tracks where one can hit through the line at will. Ireland is due to play India next in the very same ground. Not to forget that, the last match prior to this at the same venue produced a classic tie at 238, between England and India. So, game on?

I was off from computer and internet for a few days, during the year end holidays. The thrill of going through some of the scenic mountains and farm lands was simply freshening.  This morning, while scanning through some articles, I caught the attention of Ian Chappell’s piece on Ricky Ponting. Good read, but touch sad to see a sad end to Ponting this way. A master on his on merit truly deserve a better end to his amazing test career. But then, sport is cruel and unpredictable at times. I don’t know whether Ponting has the same resolve as Tendulkar, who by the way is still going strong as ever.

Was following the latest test match between India Australia test being held at Bangalore. Today is the 5th day and it is heading for an exciting finish. I was glued to  cricinfo for online updates. Cricinfo ball by ball commentary is always interesting with occasional wits and funny side remarks. With lot of online readers and followers, there is no shortage of hilarious comments. Here is an interesting passage on the final innings when India was chasing 201 on a crumbling, and alarmingly reverse swinging pitch at Bangalore. Tendulkar is batting!

Just to give a prelude, if we turn back the clock to 1999, when India was touring Australia. Remember that infamous LBW decision against Tendulkar? The Umpire Harper and bowler Mcgrath? Here is the video snap for your take on the controversy.

Now, 11 years later, the same two counties are playing each other. The batsman is the very same Tendulkar, but everything else is different, including the playing country (Bangalore and not Adelaide), the  umpire is not Harper either. Anyway, here is cricnfo running commentary:

21.1 Watson to Pujara, no run, 129.3 kph, played off the front foot towards mid-off
“When you play for 21 years, nothing is new to you and everything that can happen has happened before. Even the ‘hit-on-shoulder-LBW’,” says Insachwetrust. Imagine the fun if Harper was here to give this one too.
End of over 20 (5 runs) India 104/2 

SR Tendulkar 8* (15b 2×4) SR Watson 4-0-10-1
CA Pujara 43* (54b 4×4) PR George 4-0-21-0
19.6 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 131.0 kph, he lets another one pass down leg side
19.5 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 129.6 kph, left alone down the leg side
19.4 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 136.2 kph, shades of Adelaide! Tendulkar ducks into a short ball and gets hit on the shoulder by one that does not rise at all. Watson appeals, just like McGrath did in Adelaide, but Bowden says not out, unlike Harper did in 1999. Replays suggest the ball grazing the bails.
19.3 Watson to Tendulkar, no run, 130.2 kph, he wasn’t in control of this one, reaching for the ball outside off and thick-edging towards gully
19.2 Watson to Tendulkar, FOUR, 129.1 kph, perfect. Tendulkar moves forward to a full and straight ball and meets it with a straight bat, driving the ball with care past the stumps at the bowler’s end
19.1 Watson to Pujara, 1 run, 127.0 kph, Pujara stays on the back foot to Hussey at gully, Hussey lobs the ball towards Paine who wasn’t expecting it, the Indians steal an overthrow
No slips in place, just a gully.

Whee! The highest number of runs scored in an over is not 36. Not even double that figure. It is only a mere 77 runs. Wow! How silly a bowler that could have been? It is all true apparently. One over in the history of first class cricket has recorded a whopping 77 runs. Check this out for a detailed run through story.

This is the scoring pattern (Much like a UK telephone number including the ISD code!): 0444664614106666600401. Even more striking thing is that, some dot balls figured out in between. Those were the times when batsmen got bored by hitting anything not too cosy for them!

“One man, two hundred!” was the caption, BBC world news displayed, while broadcasting the (breaking out) news of the world record hit by India’s super star player Sachin Tendulkar.  It was against a formidable South African bowling attack in a one day international cricket match at Gwalior, the little master decided to showcase his fabulous reportoire of pure shot making on a cricket pitch. He has done it so many times in the past, but yesterday was a day when history book needed a fresh page. The first man to score 200 runs in a single innings of a 50 over match is stamped with the name Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. What a feat from a great crciketer and amazing human being!

Times has published a truly nice article commemorating this new record. Cricket is not wideley popular in all parts of the globe. The United States is not among the cricket frenzy nation either. England and her former colonies are the main countries where the game took the center stage over many years. As for records, cricket is the second most popular game in the planet, after soccer. The article hence put the new feat in perspective for the non-cricketing community. Come to think of this record, we must realize that 200 runs need to be scrored from a maximum of 300 deliveries (excepting illegal deliveries such as no balls). On the average one batsman can hope to get about 150 deliveries. In baseball analogy, this is equivalent to getting 150 pitches. It seldom happens that one get more than this. That means, one will have to consistently hit the balls at a rate exceeding 100% strike rate. Tendulkar achieved the score in 147 balls, at a strike rate of 136.5%. It calls for multiple virtues including patience, stamina, focus and talent. All have to be combined and score runs at a faster rate.  It is not easy, by any means. It was something fabulous if not more. There have been scores close to 200 in the past by great cricketers including that from Tendulkar’s previous outings, but this one will go down as the best, literally because this came against a top quality bowling attack and a formidable fielding unit of the protease.

Here is the list of the top ODI scores.

SR Tendulkar 200* 147 25 3 136.05 India v South Africa Gwalior 24 Feb 2010 ODI # 2962
CK Coventry 194* 156 16 7 124.35 Zimbabwe v Bangladesh Bulawayo 16 Aug 2009 ODI # 2873
Saeed Anwar 194 146 22 5 132.87 Pakistan v India Chennai 21 May 1997 ODI # 1209
IVA Richards 189* 170 21 5 111.17 West Indies v England Manchester 31 May 1984 ODI # 264
ST Jayasuriya 189 161 21 4 117.39 Sri Lanka v India Sharjah 29 Oct 2000 ODI # 1652
G Kirsten 188* 159 13 4 118.23 South Africa v U.A.E. Rawalpindi 16 Feb 1996 ODI # 1049
SR Tendulkar 186* 150 20 3 124.00 India v New Zealand Hyderabad (Deccan) 8 Nov 1999 ODI # 1523
MS Dhoni 183* 145 15 10 126.20 India v Sri Lanka Jaipur 31 Oct 2005 ODI # 2290
SC Ganguly 183 158 17 7 115.82 India v Sri Lanka Taunton 26 May 1999 ODI # 1463
ML Hayden 181* 166 11 10 109.03 Australia v New Zealand Hamilton 20 Feb 2007 ODI # 2527
IVA Richards 181 125 16 7 144.80 West Indies v Sri Lanka Karachi 13 Oct 1987 ODI # 457

Among them, Richards 189 against the then England may be the one comes closest in terms of quality of opposition bowling. Syed Anwar’s 194 against India is also a glorious innings played by the elegant left hander against India at Chennai. But neither Engalnd nor India will claim to have a strong fielding mastery when compared to the South African unit. So Tendulkar’s new innings clearly own special merit.

It is difficult to comprehend the stardom associated with a five foot tall man. To know this all, one need to be in India. Tendulkar earns the respect of close to a billion souls in India alone. Expectations are at levels beyond one can associate to any moving object. No parallels, really. Every time he goes to bat,  millions glue to the television sets (and now internet).  Social hierarchy still exist at large in Indian lsociety. Religion and politics still separates people. People fight for reasons less than logical, but in the name of religion and castes. It sometimes goes beyond what civilized society can comprehend. The difference between rich and poor is startling. But nothing of that

Numerically there is only a digital swap between 2001 and 2010. Similarities are more instead. Plenty of things were in common between the test match between India-Australia in 2001 and the one between India-South Africa which concluded yesterday. First, they both were great matches. Sheer classics in cricketing parlance, especially test cricket! Nothing can quite scale up to that  2001 epic event, which ended the great Australian juggernaut of consecutive test victories  (and that too at a phenomenal level of domination) but 2010 indeed lived up to the Eden garden’s charm and reputation. With high level of tension and hanging fortunes, Eden gardens was much  like a  grand theater set up for the climax . The balance was between a win for India and survival for South Africa. In the end, quite fittingly India managed to win and gave the home fans something remarkable to cheer about for years.

The final stage had two actors at their imperial best. Harbhajan singh and Hashim Amla. Amla was the epitome of concentration, all personified in human form. Things surrounding him was chaotic and noisy. None of the furies around him however bothered one cool mind of his. Googly, leg breaks, off spin all were dealt with the impeccable calmness. Yet, Harbhajan was the hero emerged in the grand finale. His reaction when Morkel was adjusted LBW has literally pumped the Eden gardens.  That heralded the match, curtains were down on the cricket field, but the celebrations had only began.  Test  match cricket came alive yet again. What treat!

If Harbhajan was the pivotal figure in the finishing stages, one cannot forget Zaheer Khan‘s contribution in the first innings. That one session post tea in day one triggered a possible result in India’s favour.   The stage was well set for the Indian batsmen to drive home the advantage. Boy, did the famous Indian batsmen cash in? The master and student combo were at their best show on day two. The way Tendulkar handled the day and his attacking student Sewhag was amazing. Their innings paved the way for the man who own part of the Eden pitch to come and do a stroll. VVS Lakshman in the company of Dhoni did the routine. When India declared their innings on day three, it was ample clear that India is well within a big win.

The nature had her own ideas to add to the drama. Bad light and rain shared the stage time on day four. But action on the curtailed day favoured India with three top order wickets, including that of the important number of Jacques Kallis. Day five was yet again bright and sunny. Amla stood the ground like a rock, even when things around him followed a different formula. Indian bowlers tried their best, but nothing seriously worked against Amla. The leg before shout by Harbhajan when Amla was in the 70s had serious merit, but that was the lone chance the cool mind offered to the 11 folks. Otherwise he was knocking everything came in his way to still.

In the final stages Tendulkar came to bowl a couple of overs or so. Considering that, it was he who took three pivotal wickets in the 2001 stage, it was a great ploy by the captain. The dangerous opener Hayden, the ever so dangerous Gilchrist and the flashy Shane Warne all were tapped by the magic of Tendulkar in the 2001 classic. But things changed a lot since. Lot of water has flown away under the bridge over nine years. Tendulkar hardly bowl these days,even at nets. Yet, the very second ball almost curtailed the match. One pitched a few inches outside the offstump took a near 90 degree turn and missed the Morkel stumps by a whisker. It was a fabulous delivery.  Not as great as the famous one to Moin Khan, but it still had some magic.  He had done this many a times in the past. So, I hastened to believe that, he was going to have a different script for the final moment. But how can Harbhajan leave his favourite ground without a five wicket haul? It was only fair to have him take that final wicket and seal the match.  As they say, so be it.

For South Africa, there will be disappointment,but no one needs to remind them where they lost the plot. The first day evening proved too costly for them. They were outstanding at Nagpur, but Calcutta favoured India. In all, it was a fabulous test series. It was hastily arranged.If only the cricketing authorities gave it a thought to have a longer test series (by ignoring the flashy one day series)! Not to be! Anyway why complain, when we had two great matches. Long live test cricket!

As someone who has seen a good part of the great Australian dominance in world cricket, I found it a little anti-climatic when England drubbed Aussies in the fifth test at Oval to regain the Ashes trophy. England bowling has been good and occasionally brilliant, but I would rather put my weights on the lack of batsmanship from Australia for this defeat. Australia has been a touch unlucky in the first test as well, but will be a mean thing to hold as an excuse for not not giving credits to the English victory. For Australia, the absence of Langer, Hayden and Gilchrist made a mountainous difference. Ponting is not the old score machine anymore. Hussey is not the reincarnation of Bradman as he used to be in the initial few tests in terms of scoring, Clark has been brilliant, but his failure in few crucial innings didn’t help. And, England got the luxury of facing an Aussie attack without Warne and Mcgrath. If only Shane Warne had played this series (even at this age, post retirement) the Ashes owner would have been different. Looking at the way, the Oval pitch turned, I hasten to think that Warne would have ran over the 11 chaps in the England team. It is not realistic, I agree, but such is the nostalgia associated with the domianant Australia in the 1990s with Warne,Mcgrath,Waughs, Hayden, Ponting,Gilchirst, Langer etc.

To be fair, England under the low profile Andy Flower simply capitalized the Aussie weakness in bowling and to some extend on their batting. The over hyped Peterson didn’t make any significant contribution and considering that, it is an incredible achievement to the team coached by Flower. The English press must be over the moon with encomium showered on the cricketers and system around it.

The other big event came down with the Ashes 2009 curtain was the retirement of Andrew Flintoff from test cricket. A fascinating cricketer, an enthralling breed at times will be missed in tests. His gesture as a gentleman when his team is in the loosing side has been something worth recalling. I would like to think that he under achieved, but his commitment as a cricketer (in the playing arena) is largely unquestionable. He is not the best all rounder, as many calls, especially in the English press, but in my book he was a fine cricketing all rounder that England had over the last 10 years or so.

Oh boy! Didn’t this five foot five inches little big fella make us feel a little better today? Didn’t those back foot cover drives served our eyes as little soothing gels? Didnt the rolling of the leather ball deflected from middle of that MRF stickered famous bat, on to a lush green turfs to the boundary boards of the beautiful Hamilton cricket ground, fetched moisture to our eyes, even while gluing to the live stream on the LCD screen, all  in the darkness of the midnight hours?  I had stayed awake into the wee hours of a cold Lausanne night, to see his masterful show in the first innings of first test at Hamilton. As  Mark Richardson commentating remarked,  the innings of Tendulkar had been an absolute batting clinic. There were quite a few stamp shots of class, which included a few front foot cover drives, couple of back foot cover drives, the cut shots and the impeccable straight drive which separated the trace of the ball  epsilon inches away from the stumps at the non striker’s position.

“Like Lara, he has scored runs all over the world. I have seen him run down the pitch and hit Glenn McGrath over the top for six, and I have seen him hit me for six against the spin going around the wicket”

When the best spinner of all time, ever to have played the game of cricket say this, it means there is more than substance to it. Surely, Shane Warne knows what he is talking about. Anyone who has seen the Tendulkar era would rate him as one of the best batsman of his time, if not more. So, in my reading, Shane Warne got his assessment very neatly right. As the legendary spinner remarked, Tendulkar and Lara are two of the finest batsmen played during his playing era and there is only fine line separate these two. I personally, don’t prefer to separate them. To me, both of them complimented very well, and at times very similar too. One a right hand bat, the other left handed. One more flamboyant, the other text book perfect. Both attacking and times impossible to dismiss. One had the expectation of a billion people, while the other was more rebellious and often busy composing a symphony of his own class and date with destiny.

In some way, this assessment of Shane warne must be kept along with the very similar remark Don Bradman made about Tendulkar ten years back. He was equally candid to state that Tendulkar was one current batsman, who nearly resembled the Don himself in technique and stroke play. Now, we have the two best best players of all time, one batsman and the other bowler agreeing when it comes to the finest batsman since Bradman. Not many would disagree. If they do, then it lacks substance and proper reasoning. If you really look at the critics of Tendulkar, they are all guys who pass remarks based on 2 or 3 failures in a series. For example, when India exited the 2007 world cup in the very first round, there were furies and sounds for his head. Mind you, only he was targeted. What is the rational for such huge clamour? He played 3 innings and scored only one 50. True, he failed in two innings and one of the loss was enough to pack the bags. That is not quite the reason to singularly blame a batsman of his class for the exit. Common fans reactions at times are expected because the expectations from Tendulkar when he go to bat for India is beyond what words could describe. They want him to score at least a 100 in fewer balls with a minimum of few sixes and some down the lane whack. They want him to this every single time he go out to bat. In the hey days, Tendulkar could hit Mcgrath for sixes with consistency, but that is not going be a practical norm for every match. To add more masala there will be occasional senseless remarks by people like Kapil Dev, who out of the blue try to belittle him with remarks like ‘He never lived up to expectation’. Firstly, he gets it wrong when he uses the word ‘never’. Perhaps he didn’t drop in intentionally. Hindi to English translation perhaps change the meaning of the content considerably. Perhaps, but I don’t know! Secondly, he must understand that, it is easy to throw wild criticism without facts. Someone become hero not because he/she does something once in a blue moon. They build on to prove their mettle time and again, over a considerable test of time. In Tendulkar case as well, he earned the respect of millions of cricket lovers because of the sheer performance on cricket field. Let us admit and enjoy his game, as much as you can.

Tendulkar and Lara are once in a while phenomena. Unfortunately Lara is not there in the big scene anymore. Thankfully we still have Tendulkar, at least for a few more years. While he is there we can cherish for some class on a cricket field. By no means, we can expect him to be a machine to do a routine bash job like a quad core processor. When he does it, it is one of those ‘making it feel better’ proud moments to enjoy a sport. Let us appreciate those moments. As they say, once he is gone from the scene, there wouldn’t be too many such things in the pipe to hope for!

By the way, the list of Shane warne’s top 50 positions are largely his observation. We must accept his rational. It is very hard to put a number to a player, because the measure is not quite always black and white. I for instance would consider Steve Waugh in top ten, when Warne consider him at 26th position behind Lehman. Steve Waugh was not merely a match saver to me. He was much broader in scope than Shane Warne’s remarks. He might not have been as gifted and flamboyant as his brother younger by a minute, but he often fixed a high valued stamp for his wicket. That made it extra hard to get his wicket. One another aspect of Steve Waugh, I liked is his urge to push for a win, irrespective of the risk involved, at least at a majority of times.

The top 50 from Shane Warne’s list of cricketers, from his playing era are [1]

50 Jamie Siddons
49 Darren Berry
48 Brian McMillan
47 Chris Cairns
46 Dilip Vengsarkar
45 Waqar Younis
44 Alec Stewart
43 Michael Atherton
42 Ravi Shastri
41 Justin Langer
40 Kapil Dev
39 Stuart MacGill
38 Sanath Jayasuriya
37 Stephen Harmison
36 Andy Flower
35 Michael Vaughan
34 Bruce Reid
33 Allan Donald
32 Robin Smith
31 Tim May
30 Kevin Pietersen
29 Shoaib Akhtar / Craig McDermott
28 Saeed Anwar / Mohammad Yousuf
27 Jacques Kallis / Shaun Pollock
26 Steve Waugh
25 Darren Lehmann
24 Brett Lee
23 Stephen Fleming
22 Martin Crowe
21 David Boon
20 Adam Gilchrist
19 Aravinda de Silva
18 Merv Hughes
17 Matthew Hayden
16 Andrew Flintoff
15 Graham Gooch
14 Rahul Dravid
13 Anil Kumble
12 Mark Waugh
11 Courtney Walsh
10 Ian Healy
9 Mark Taylor
8 Ricky Ponting
7 Muttiah Muralitharan
6 Wasim Akram
5 Glenn McGrath
4 Allan Border
3 Curtly Ambrose
2 Brian Lara
1 Sachin Tendulkar

[1]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/shane_warne/article2364258.ece


Today, at Multan (in Pakistan) Brian Lara slaughtered the depleted Pakistani bowling attack on the way to Sunil Gavaskar’s record of 34 centuries in the five day version of cricket. Only Sachin Tendulkar ahead! With Tendulkar having age in his side (I expect him to play at least few more years, so should Lara! The former is 4 years younger than the latter). What a nice thing to have, these two star cricketers play, one right handed and one left handed!. I always loved to watch these two fine cricketers excel. To me Sachin Tendulkar is more of a complete player equipped enough to play well in all sort of conditions, while Lara is an absolute treat to watch, once he settle in on a decent (not so moving) batting track. He makes batting ridiculously easy and mind blowing to watch. The left handers elegance is something you can enjoy to the fullest extend when Lara on song. He is merciless at occasions. Look at this (poor Danish Kaneria) today!

End of over 83 (5 runs) – West Indies 255/2 

BC Lara   66* (57b 10×4 2×6)   Umar Gul   23-11-40-0
RS Morton   5* (9b 1×4)   Danish Kaneria   29-2-104-2
Long-on and a long-off in place
83.1 Danish Kaneria to Lara, FOUR, flat on the stumps, Lara steps out and lofts it straight down the ground, one bounce into the fence
83.2 Danish Kaneria to Lara, no run
83.3 Danish Kaneria to Lara, SIX, short ball outside leg stump, Lara rocks back and pulls it away high and over mid-wicket fence
83.4 Danish Kaneria to Lara, SIX, One more and this is high- Lara charges down the track and lofts it away high over the long-on fence, this is a massive hit and Lara is on a high
83.5 Danish Kaneria to Lara, SIX, Hat-trick of sixes! length ball and Lara steps out yet again and this time straight over the sight-screen, this is even bigger than the previous one, Lara is on a roll and this is really a treat to watch
83.6 Danish Kaneria to Lara, FOUR, Boundary to end the over! full toss, Lara steps out and puts it away over the mid-wicket fielder
26 runs off the over and Lara has moved into the 90’s off just 63 balls

This is not the first time he did something similar to a spinner. A certain South African spinner must be not so unhappy today, after seeing Danish Kanerias fate. Let us don’t, go into the irrelevant part of it. Man, Brian Lara has this uncanny ability to score high! …..when it rains it really pour from his bat…. He is surely a trend setter in this high scoring business. he is 197 not out at the end of play and surely on a game to score a double or perhaps a triple hundred. I am just hoping that he sails high tomorrow as well.

A lot of debate will once again sprout, on the argument “Who is better? Lara or Tendulkar?” Ricky Ponting is not very far, but I like to consider Lara and Tendulkar in a different league. Critics of these players would say that one is a match winner, the other is less attacking etc. The fact is that, the two legends are part of average cricketing teams (not so match winning bowlers and fielders to be precise). As a fan, I wouldn’t mind the team losing, but for these guys play a great innings, like the one today and Tendulakrs Chennai test against Pakistan. Isn’t it just so nice that we get to see a right hander and a left hander playing in the same era. Lara is 37 years and tendulakr 33 years. I hope Tendulkar take this as an appetite to score much more. If only he doesn’t care about winning or losing:-) I hope he play a little more care free in the coming days, as Lara often does. I often felt that Lara care little about the result and in the process produce some monumental innings.

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