How big a match-winner is Sachin Tendulkar?

FIRST of all I would like to congratulate you for inviting your readers' opinion on an interesting subject. The coverage of the Australian tour in The Sportstar is excellent and because of your magazine we have never felt the absence of the live coverage in the STAR Sports channel owing to the imposition of the Conditional Access System (CAS) in Chennai. Thanks a lot.

There is absolutely no doubt that Sachin Tendulkar is one of the best batsmen in the world today.

There is also no doubt that there can be a bigger match-winner than Sachin in One-Day Internationals.

However, if you take into account his match-winning performances in Tests, the percentage of victory is not that encouraging. The statistics given by you in your edition dated 03.01.2004 itself reveals the truth. At the same time we cannot say that he is not sincere in his attempts as he never plays for records. But the fact is that there are some matches he could have won if he had only played with a little more patience — e.g. his knock of 136 at Chepauk in 1999 against Pakistan. Had he refrained from playing that awkward shot, with just 17 runs needed for victory, India would have triumphed. Likewise, in the recent Melbourne Test also, there was no need for him to chase the wide ball from Williams and nick to the wicketkeeper. What we needed at that time was occupation of the crease in an attempt to draw the Test. Here Dravid is also to be blamed for the same mistake. Their patience was vital as we have a long non-performing tail.

Hence, keeping in view the statistics and the way Tendulkar gets out to innocuous balls, I feel Dravid is definitely a bigger Test Match winner than Tendulkar.

As regards the greatest match-winner in the history of Indian cricket, I would rate Gundappa Viswanath as the best followed by Kapil Dev.

N. Mahadevan, Chennai

IS Sachin Tendulkar a match-winner or not? Well, this question is as absurd as asking whether the game he plays is cricket or not. He is undoubtedly one of the most magnanimous match-winners in the history of the game. The fact that he didn't maintain his usual belligerent standards, at least in the first three Tests against Australia, will not tarnish his reputation for winning matches. It goes without saying that his dedication, commitment and contribution to the game are legendary and matched by few.

For some time top-notch players such as Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and to a certain extent Zaheer Khan have been threatening to upstage Sachin as the primary match-winner in the Indian team. But none of them shoulders the hopes of the nation as much as the Mumbai Maestro. What makes him special is that he combines the temperament of a Gavaskar with the flamboyance of a Richards. Therefore, it's a foregone conclusion that Sachin's the greatest match-winner that the Indian team has and his presence certainly puts pressure on the opposition as well.

Indian cricket history is studded with the names of illustrious match-winners. It's certain that the names Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar will be etched in cricket folklore till eternity. But going by the sheer ability to turn a match on its head by savaging the opposition bowling attack or by terrorising the batsmen, Kapil Dev should get the vote as the most dependable match-winner. One has only to look at the way in which Kapil led his men to victory in the 1983 World Cup at Lord's to conclude that his class hasn't been surpassed!

B. Sabarinath, Thiruvananthapuram

HOW can we start doubting Sachin Tendulkar's credentials as a batsman if he fares poorly in four or five innings? He is going through a lean patch, which is common for almost every person in the world of sports.

Tendulkar is the biggest match-winner in the Indian team and also in the history of Indian cricket. But, whenever India loses a match, the whole blame is put on Sachin for not performing, although the entire team is responsible for the defeat.

But Sachin has never complained. He is a very committed and dedicated player and plays to win matches for India. He has always been under pressure to perform and has kept performing. He values his wicket dearly and always puts his critics to silence by letting his bat do the talking. He indeed is a role model for young and aspiring players.

Rohan Bajaj, Bangalore

Sachin Tendulkar is a great match-winner all right. He is a stylish and confident batsman with an array of strokes. But, to me, Kapil Dev is the greatest match-winner in the history of Indian cricket. He is a true living legend. Hats off to Sachin and Kapil Dev.

Ravi Prakash, Navi Mumbai