Lower-order batting crucial in India’s success, says Tendulkar

Nos. 7, 8 and 9 have dug India out of “challenging moments”, according to the Indian batting legend.

Sachin Tendulkar praised Umesh Yadav and called Cheteshwar Pujara “a silent warrior”.   -  Mohammed Yousuf

Lower-order productivity with the bat was one of the reasons for India’s success in the 2016-17 season, says Sachin Tendulkar.

“The long season has been tremendous for our team. There have been challenging moments, and those moments were when I felt our Nos. 7, 8 and 9 contributed big time. Those were critical moments when the Test match could have gone either way. When any team which has that kind of strength, where the bowlers can go out and score those crucial runs, the keeper can go out and score a hundred for them, you become a solid side. Obviously, the first six batters and then 7, 8 and 9 contributing (was significant),” he said at the launch of his digital app here on Thursday.

Excerpts:

On Wriddhiman Saha (three centuries during India’s tour of the West Indies): Incredible. These guys have played well at home in crunch moments that can decide the match and sometimes the series. That, I felt, was the difference. You could see, both teams going neck-and-neck, and one team starts pulling away from it. You can see that happen, and that’s what happened.

On the quality of the Indian team now: When we have a full strength side, it is a good problem to have…who to leave out. That means your bench strength is really strong. That is [what] champion teams are made of. I am sure everyone watched the way we have played. To maintain and stay at this level is something I am sure everyone is wanting to do; and the rest of us are looking forward once they resume [playing]. I have got a lot of faith and confidence in our team.

On Umesh Yadav: I think the way our guys showed discipline and commitment in 13 Tests at home (is heartening). I don’t remember anything like that happened during my days. And someone like Umesh (Yadav) has played in 12 of them. For a fast bowler, it is really taxing. That shows, you have got to work on your body. And if you are able to do that [it’s great]… Umesh is the type of bowler who gets better the more he bowls. You could see that. He bowled possibly the best spell in the last innings of the season. Anyone who bowls good reverse swing will always be effective in India. Because of the surface, the texture, there will be reverse swing. In Dharamsala, Umesh bowled damn good reverse swing.

Ajinkya Rahane, a Mumbaikar winning a Test match: The last Mumbaikar who led India to win in his first Test was myself in Delhi (India v Australia, 1996).

Was the India-Australia series exciting: You take from 1998 to 2000, 2004, it has always been exciting.

On Cheteshwar Pujara: Has been a silent warrior. He has terrific temperament; he is someone who is dedicated, disciplined and focussed. I have seen him from close quarters and I was impressed with what I saw. I knew this guy would be there for a long time.