Don’t blame Sachin Tendulkar for the defeat

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Don’t blame Sachin Tendulkar for losing to Bangladesh. It’s a misconception that Team India loses whenever Sachin scores an international century.

Figures tell a different story. The reason for the defeat on the same day that Sachin enjoyed the magical moment of scoring his100th international century was very poor bowling and shoddy fielding.

Consider the statistics. Of the 49 ODI centuries from the Little Master, as many as 33 were in a winning cause and the success rate is a whopping 67 percent.

India lost only 14 of those matches (1 tied, 1 no result) yielding a team failure rate of 28 percent. Team India may have lost ODIs in which Sachin scored his 99th (vs South Africa in World Cup 2011) and his 100th but by no means is he to blame for those debacles.

Coming to the Tests in which Sachin made 51 centuries, the percentages are again hugely in his favour with 20 Tests won, 20 drawn and only 11 lost.

Of his 100 centuries, 70 may have come on Asian pitches but it is not as if the batsman made the collecting of centuries against relatively weak opposition a habit, In fact, Friday's century was his first in ODIs against Bangladesh, as opposed to five Test hundreds against the newest Test nation.

The success rate in matches featuring Sachin centuries is very favourably tilted towards the 'Mumbai Bradman'.

Among his peers, Rahul Dravid was the next most successful in terms of compiling international centuries and India's success rate in Dravid-century matches is comparable in ODIs - Team India won 8 ODIs and lost 4 yielding a success rate close to 67 percent.

In Test matches in which Dravid's batting had a major impact after Sachin, the success rate is also comparable with India winning 15 Tests in which Dravid made a century, drawing 17 and losing only 4.

The lesson to be drawn is if great Test batsmen are performing to potential to the extent of compiling centuries, India becomes that much harder to beat.

Strictly speaking, figures of the two formats are not to be conflated but considering India won 53 international games in which Sachin scored centuries and did not lose another 22 (20 Tests and 2 ODIs), not losing in 75 out of 100 games is imposing statistics that throws light on the dominance of the finest batsmen in the most modern era.

Dravid's figures are also good in terms of percentages since in his 48 hundreds, India lost only 8 games. Sachin towers over him in the enormity of a hundred centuries as opposed to 48.

Comparisons across eras may fail badly because the criteria and conditions are so different as also attitudes and the approach to cricket.

But take Sunil Gavaskar's 34 Test centuries, the highest in cricket before Tendulkar and then Dravid passed his record - India won only 6 Tests, lost 6 and drew as many as 22. The success rate was minuscule but then India suffered from a lack of incisive bowling in any pitch conditions then.

Comparisons cannot be made with Ricky Ponting for the simple reason that he figured in teams containing two champion bowlers, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

He was also part of the world's top ranked Test teams in two record runs of 16 Test wins on the trot and also in great World Cup teams that won three on the trot. Of matches featuring his 71 international hundreds, Australia won as many as 55 and lost only 9.

The table presents the comparative statistics of South Africa's Jacques Kallis who lies third in the list of international century makers with 59 three-figure innings.

While it is arguable how much we can depend on success rates based only on centuries where even 99 in challenging conditions can set up victories, what the figures prove is the belief that Sachin's centuries do not bring wins or, alternatively, help avoid defeat in Tests is baseless.

Take the Dhaka innings of Friday. Sachin may have faced a few more deliveries — 138 balls — for the landmark ton than he may have liked to, the innings strike rate of 72 runs per 100 balls being worse than his career strike rate of 86 runs per 100 balls..

But he was not batting in a vacuum. Considering the unbearable load on his emotions as the landmark neared, it was up to colleagues to step it up at the other end, which is what they did not do well enough.

And the bowling and fielding was horrendous, which is why India lost, not because Sachin scored a century.

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