Age just a number for Sachin

Age just a number for Sachin

It’s as if time has stood still for the little Mumbaikar, who turns 38 on Sunday. At an age when post-retirement plans are well in their implementation phase, Tendulkar is still hard at work, devising his own plans of continuing to entertain and enthrall with the bat.
Like good wine, the master has got better with each passing year. The doomsday-sayers who had predicted five years ago that he was on the last legs of his international career all have egg on their faces now.

The last year and more has been particularly productive for the toast of the nation. A stirring run that began with the first ever international 50-over double century has culminated in a maiden Twenty20 hundred too, in the Indian Premier League last week. Remarkably, he wasn’t dismissed in IPL IV until his fourth innings! Tendulkar has emphatically proved that even in the supposed young man’s format, there is no substitute for class, experience and expertise.

His 200 not out against South Africa in the Gwalior one-dayer in February last year set off an extraordinary chain of events that has seen the runs cascade in a torrent off his scything willow. Between then and now, he has made nine international hundreds in the most productive phase of an incredibly consistent career.

Between August and October last year, he made two double centuries in Test cricket, capping it off with a staggering 50th Test hundred in Centurion in December. In 13 Tests since his 37th birthday, he has amassed 1458 runs at an average of 76.73, nearly 20 runs more than his career average!

Throughout that period, however, the focus was on the World Cup. Determined to keep himself fresh and eager for the one laurel that had eluded him, Tendulkar picked and chose his one-day matches with care. By the time the World Cup came around, he was well and truly ready.

In a further shot for genius and longevity, Tendulkar finished the second highest run-getter in the competition, and made stirring centuries against England and South Africa to leave himself within one hundred of a hundred international centuries. The 482 runs he made in India’s Cup of Joy came at a frenetic pace; Tendulkar scored 91.98 runs per 100 deliveries faced, taking on far younger, fitter, more athletic men and stamping his authority repeatedly.

Typically, Tendulkar will celebrate his 38th birthday with little fanfare, on a cricket ground in Hyderabad. Genius, needless to say, is timeless!

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