The bulwark of Indian batting

WHAT would Indian cricket be without Sachin Tendulkar? Hard to imagine this team performing without the sevices of Tendulkar in any form of cricket.

The consistency level achieved by Tendulkar would be hard to match. There are signs of his reflexes declining, but not his determination to guide the team with his amazing ability.

Tendulkar continues to show the same enthusiasm that marked his cricket when he made his debut in 1989. All these years have honed his skills and they have also taught him to be disciplined and loyal to the cause of the team.

At the last World Cup in South Africa, at the end of the final, he was the most dejected man at the presentation ceremony even as he received the `Player of the Tournament' award from Gary Sobers.

Tendulkar did not hide his disappointment then. "I would've been happier if we had won the final,'' he had remarked at The Wanderers. The sentiments were repeated at the Eden Gardens when once again Tendulkar won the `Man of the Series' award for the tri-series, which went Australia's way.

Sachin Tendulkar is the `Man of the Series' and the Union Law and Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley applauds after giving away the award. — Pic. V. V. KRISHNAN-

Disappointment was evident on his face, and understandably, too. Tendulkar had aggregated the highest number of runs, but all his efforts could not lift the side to champion status. "I wish we had won this match. It was a poor batting show after the bowlers had done a wonderful job,'' he said at the end of the match.

For Tendulkar, and for the rest, too, the defeat hurt a lot. He has strongly believed that India, with the talent available, should be winning more titles than it has done. "It's a matter of putting the efforts collectively in the right direction,'' he says, but then the message is yet to be understood by his mates. The team continues to rely on Tendulkar to finish the job. The events at the Eden Gardens confirmed the fears as India lost the way after Tendulkar was out. True, Hemang Badani and Rahul Dravid kept the hopes alive, but the team missed Tendulkar in those tense moments.

Knowing his enthusiasm and passion for the game, it would be easy to believe that Tendulkar would like to be in the middle of any action. There is no lack of motivation for this cricketer who has, at times, been criticised of not winning more matches, but what of the situations he redeems for the team with those blistering starts?

Of late, Tendulkar has opted to cut out certain strokes with the intention of hanging in there. It may not seem the best way for Tendulkar to win his case, but then the pressures of the game compel him to make certain adjustments. It may not always be to his liking, but Tendulkar is not known to complain. He would be too happy to take on any responsibility and this happens to be his strength. The trophies that adorn his shelves keep reminding him of his commitment to win more matches for India. As of now, he is on the job even though his best and sincere efforts may not have won the team the final at Eden Gardens.