New Delhi: In a country where talking about Sachin Tendulkar in less than deferential terms is tantamount to blasphemy, one tends to overlook certain inconvenient truths.
But after the master batsman found the going tough at home against lowly New Zealand, a few tongues have started wagging.
When his timber was disturbed three times in a row by the Kiwi bowlers, some wondered whether age was finally catching up with the 39-year-old batsman.
But if one goes by numbers alone, it is not the first time that Tendulkar has disappointed his legion of fans, who consider him nothing short of cricketing divinity.
- End of the road for Sachin?
- Has time caught up with Tendulkar?
- This god is human
- If not now, then when?
Consider these facts: For a cricketer who has played 190 Tests, Tendulkar has never scored 500 or more runs in a single series.
The closest he got was in the 2007-08 series in Australia, when he tallied 493 in four Tests.
It is in contrast to the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, who topped 500 in as many as six bilateral series, including his first one. What makes the achievement even more creditable is that the master opening batsman played in an era which had a proliferation of great fast bowlers in almost every team.
EVEN among his teammates, past and present, Tendulkar cuts a sorry figure on these counts. Rahul Dravid crossed 600 runs twice in a series, that too in the testing conditions in England (2002) and Australia (2003-04).
VVS Laxman is credited to have played the greatest Test innings by an Indian – his 281 against Australia in the 2001 Kolkata Test is the stuff of legends. That landmark series saw the stylish Hyderabadi accumulate 503 runs.
Both Laxman and Dravid have drawn curtains on their illustrious international careers, but Virender Sehwag is still at it.
The Delhi Dasher, too, has an upper hand over Tendulkar when it comes to big hauls in a series. Sehwag accumulated 544 runs in 2004-05 against arch rivals Pakistan, who have often been at the receiving end of his assault.
When one complains that Tendulkar has not played too many match-winning knocks, one is shouted down by his devotees.
But records show that the Mumbai batsman has only one hundred in a successful fourth innings run chase – that coming in the memorable Chennai Test against England in late 2008.
The fourth innings of a Test provides one of the toughest examinations for a batsman as the bounce is often inconsistent and there is help for spinners.
Tendulkar’s fourth innings average is 37.85, miles behind Gavaskar’s mark of 58.25. He falls behind Laxman and Dravid too, who average 40.55 and 40.38 respectively.
Tendulkar has too often failed to see his team home in the fourth innings. The most heartbreaking instance was against Pakistan in the 1999 Chennai Test when after he got out for 136 with only 17 runs left to win, the remaining three wickets fell in a heap and India lost by 12 runs.
With age slowing down his reflexes and opposition bowlers finding ways to break through his previously impregnable defence, it is safe to assume that these statistics may not be improved upon in the last phase of Tendulkar’s career. On the recent trips to England and Australia, he started off in good touch, but flattered to deceive.
The habit of getting bogged down for no apparent reason also did not help his cause.
May be, he no longer can summon the energy and stamina to play big innings on a consistent basis. With a younger crop of batsmen like Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara stepping up to the plate, it is now up to Tendulkar to decide how long he wants to block the path of another deserving youngster.
scored 500 runs or more in a bilateral series on six occassions.
They are 774 against West Indies in 1970- 71, 732 against the same country in 1978- 79, 542 against England in 1979, 529 against Pakistan in 1979- 80, 505 against the West Indies in 1983- 84 and 500 against England in 1981- 82
scored 619 runs against the Aussies, in Australia, in 2003- 04. He also scored 602 against England, in England, in 2002
scored 503 runs against Australia in 2000- 01
scored 544 runs against Pakistan in 2004- 05
In his entire career, Sachin has never reached 500 runs in a Test series. His best performance was against Australia in their country in 2007- 08. In that series, he played all the four Tests and scored 493 runs at an average of 70.43. It also included two centuries and two fifties.
— Compiled by Manoj Kumar