The Reuters global sports blog
Tendulkar’s retirement a boon not a bane
While Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement may have been looked upon as the saddest chapter in Indian cricket, the fact remains that his exit can only work to the benefit of MS Dhoni’s emerging Test side.
There is no doubt about Tendulkar’s contribution to Indian cricket but as statistics show his impact was on the decline, more so in the last two years.
Tendulkar averaged only 31 in Tests in last two years, highest score being 94 against the West Indies in November, 2011. His average is lower than that of Dhoni (41.3), Virat Kohli (41.1), Cheteshwar Pujara (80.2) and Murali Vijay (55.4) in the same period.
With time, Tendulkar’s batting also transformed itself. The right-hander curbed his aggression and focused more on protecting his wicket without the attacking intent of the past. His recent knocks haven’t been free-flowing essays, but jerky outings.
His last dismissal against the part-time off-spin of Narsingh Deonarine is a case in point. Tendulkar tried to score of a ball that he could have left alone, and then could only guide it to first slip, whose very presence should have acted as a deterrent to the shot.
Tendulkar’s insistence on carrying on and the selectors’ faith in him meant that many promising youngsters were devoid of an early opportunity to get a taste of international cricket.
Now that the dust has settled over Tendulkar’s retirement, Ajinkya Rahane seems to be the most likely replacement despite his poor Test debut against Australia in March, where he could only accumulate eight runs in two innings.
Rahane, 25, averages almost 60 in the domestic circuit and possesses a good technique for Test cricket.
India can also go in with an all-rounder in the form of Ravindra Jadeja, which will add more balance to the Test side, which normally features just four specialist bowlers.
Replacements may take a while to get going but it is an investment for the future. Tendulkar’s retirement, though delayed, has opened a slot for a new face in Indian cricket.
Whether it is a batsman or an all-rounder, the Indian team will be a better one than that which featured an out-of-form Tendulkar.
Indian fans may find it hard to see a Test side without Tendulkar but opposition teams know that their task just got harder.