How big a match-winner is Sachin Tendulkar?

WHENEVER Sachin Tendulkar wields the willow, the nation freezes. Considering this fact, the debate whether he is a watch-winner or not seems to be redundant. He may not be a Viv Richards but that is because two of his fine innings — 241 not out and 60 not out in the Sydney Test recently, went in vain. On the contrary, the 233 and 70 not out by Dravid won India a historic Test. The fault was not Sachin's — just that India could not find an Agarkar who could take six brilliant wickets in the second innings.

Sachin may not be a Steve Waugh but then he does not have a Warne, Gillespie or Lee who could win a match by hitting the last few runs after he scores a century. Richards and Waugh both had great teams to back their efforts, not jut a few good players like what Sachin has.

Today, when Sachin goes out to bat, he has over a billion people praying for him. So, whether he is a MATCH-WINNER or not, who cares: he is a HEART-WINNER.

MANIT M. SHAH, AHMEDABAD

WITH a heavy heart we find ourselves questioning the credentials of Sachin Tendulkar as a match-winner. After all, the commitment shown by him over the last decade or so towards the overall game in general and the Indian team in particular has been exemplary. Just notice the vigour and intensity with which he runs between the wickets — attempting to convert singles into two's and three's — as if his very life depended on these runs! Why, he even put aside his father's death during the 1999 World Cup — to wear his beloved India colours, despite the opponents being the lowly Kenyans. What more can we ask of him? Your esteemed magazine, has rightly initiated this raging debate, which is similar to questioning the credentials of a master navigator after a momentous journey.

TUHIN GHOSH, GOA

THROUGHOUT his career, Sachin Tendulkar has proved his mettle a number of times. When his bat does the talking everyone is overjoyed, but no one points a finger when Sachin fails. He is a genius no doubt and deserves laurels and accolades. He may have been the player of the World Cup but that is valueless considering the fact that he failed to deliver in the final of the World Cup. Not only this between 2001-02 India reached a good number of finals but suffered defeats in various tournaments when Sachin miserably failed. Remember in the fifth Test at Kingston, Jamaica, Sachin had a good opportunity not only to play a great innings but, help India win the series (like Brian Lara was the king-maker many times for West Indies. As it turned out, it was West Indies that had it easy when not only Sachin, but the world's best batting line up collapsed during crucial moments.

BIDYUT KUMAR CHATTERJEE, FARIDABAD

MATCH-WINNER. This phrase has been used loosely over the years in cricket, especially in Indian Cricket.

Everybody talks about whether Sachin is a match-winner or not? Sachin is a match winner in his own right. It is not just because of his cricketing brilliance. Its because of his sheer presence, which motivates the players and also sends shock waves into the opposition.

I still remember Shane Warne in Channel 9 recollecting his duels with Sachin. Nothing can unsettle this genius. He goes on and says for a player like Sachin "we need to work out many strategies to get him out". This is where Sachin becomes a match-winner. He always keeps the opposition guessing. Even in the SCG Test none of his runs came through the cover drive or extra cover drive. The Aussies kept probing that line. But he kept on leaving that ball, that shows how he values his wicket.

Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Azhar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly are match-winners, but Sachin is greater than them because whether he scores or not, he keeps the opposition on their toes. The very fear of the rival bowlers makes Sachin a match-winner.

H. HARISH FREDRICK, USA

INDIAN cricket has produced many great cricketers in the past but there is only one all time great cricketer in India and that is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. The man is a true genius and without doubt India's biggest match-winner. His initials SRT could stand for Super Rare Talent. From the manner in which he has scored more than 50 centuries in both forms of cricket, he should be called Hundredulkar. The fact that nine of his Test centuries resulted in Indian victories makes him a true match-winner. Most of his other centuries have come as match savers. Tendulkar holds the record for winning the maximum `Man of the Match' awards in one-day internationals. Sachin is the first and only player to score 10,000 runs in ODI's. He is the only one who has the double of 10,000 runs and 100 wickets in ODIs. India has won almost 80 per cent of the one-dayers in which Sachin has scored a century. Sachin is an emperor in world cricket. Tendulkar has shone as the one man gladiator for India.

SUNIL NAMBIAR, MUMBAI

THE question — Is Sachin a match-winner — looks to be unfair, because we have witnessed his scintillating batting in various slots. Remember only a man with patience and perseverance (like Gavaskar, Hazare and Dravid) can be a match-winner and not a "Tornado" like Sachin. On the whole the Indian team feels secure in the hands of Dravid. The most fascinating aspect of the recent Australian tour has been the good knocks of Dravid and Laxman.

Today's great moments are tommorow's sweet memories. Though Dravid might be "the great WALL of India", if you look beyond the wall you can see a monument, an "Unconquerable Everest", in Sachin Tendulkar.

SAMUEL GEORGE, by e-mail

SOMEONE once said "an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing". The same applies to those experts who have conferred upon themselves the right to come hard upon someone who I would term a national asset.

Tendulkar outweighs statistics and numbers. That is reflected in his altruistic and dedicated batting which thoroughly impresses even my granny. Tendulkar is a match-winner, although in a team of 11 when everyone gives his best it would be an overstatement, but the number of times that Sachin has put India within sniffing distance of a victory is a sign of his class and commitment.

Indian cricket has seen some of the most prolific run scorers and bowlers. The likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Azharuddin, to name a few have given us reasons to take pride in our cricket, but to term one a match-winner would be unfair to others as they are match-winners in their own right.

Lastly, the slump in Tendulkar's form and emergence of Dravid as a man for all times is one of the most positive signs for Indian cricket in recent years. So a man who has given 14 years of his life to his passion should just be left alone and not put under a microscope.

C. SAURABH, NEW DELHI

PERSONAL glory may be synonymous with match-winning show in individual sports, but in cricket it's not certain. Who then is a match-winner?

Perhaps,a player who reserves his best for a time when it's most needed. Is the great Sachin Tendulkar, a match-winner? His innings of 143 at Sharjah,1998 and unbeaten 186 versus New Zealand, as well as his unbeaten 155 against Australia that single-handedly took the game away from the opposition, testify to this fact.

RAJEEV MARK SINGH, LUCKNOW

WHY do we have to ask if Sachin Tendulkar is a match-winner?

Is it because he has not won any one-day finals in the last few years? But how many of these finals would we have reached but for Sachin? Does it not take a match-winner to win the matches which take us to the final?

Or is it because he has not scored in the fourth innings in some oft-quoted Test matches? Was it his fault that his team-mates did not support him enough when he braved a bad back to make a century against Pakistan in Chennai? Reminds me of the days when Gavaskar was faulted for scoring 221 but not doing enough to take India to victory at the Oval in 1979.

Or is it because we forgot the hundreds scored by Sachin in the first innings of Test matches we won. I feel Sachin, like Gavaskar and Kapil before him, is scrutinised minutely because of the enormous expectations of a nation that for long rejoiced over individual heroics amidst the collective failure of the team. Now when the team wins and he occasionally fails, we magnify it out of proportion. A match-winner Sachin surely is.

R. VIVEKANAND, CHENNAI The debate is closed.