Tendulkar, India broke new ground in international cricket (2010 in Retrospect)By Abhishek Roy, IANS
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
NEW DELHI - The inimitable Sachin Tendulkar broke new ground in international cricket while the Indian Test team stayed at the No. 1 spot in 2010 - both no mean achievements. The year was also marked by an internecine war in the Indian cricket board, leading to the suspension on charges of financial irregularities of Lalit Modi, the creator of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).
Tendulkar became the first batsman to score an ODI double century and also struck his 50th Test century. He amassed more than 1,500 runs in 13 Tests during the year at a stupendous average of more than 80 runs per innings. In the process, he surpassed 14,000 Test runs. Interestingly, Tendulkar’s seven centuries in 2010 are the most by him in a calendar year.
His remarkable performance was taken note by the International Cricket Council (ICC) by adjudging him the Cricketer of the Year. And, the Indian Air Force made him the honorary group captain.
World cricket was plunged into turmoil by the spot-fixing allegations against Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt and his teammates Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif during the England tour. Though Indian cricket managed to stay clean from any serious allegations, a Pakistani actress charged a Delhi-based sports photographer with shady dealings with her country’s players.
India started the year by drawing Test series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, comfortably beat Australia and New Zealand at home to maintain their position at the top. But India’s No.1 Test tag is looking increasingly threatened with their roller-coaster ride in South Africa where they suffered a humiliating innings and 25 runs defeat in the first Test at Centurion but bounced back with a resounding 87-run victory at Kingsmead.
However, India’s No.1 spot would be in peril if they lose the third
Test beginning Jan 2, 2011 at Cape Town and with it the series.
Winning the Asia Cup and successes against Australia and New Zealand in ODIs, however, gave world’s No.2 one-day side some confidence as they prepare for the World Cup in the sub-continent from Feb 19, 2011.
India began the year losing the tri-series final against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh, but bounced back by by sweeping the two-Test series. Tendulkar hit 105 runs in the first Test to become the first batsman to score 13,000 runs in Test cricket while Gautam Gambhir with his 116 in the same Test became the only Indian cricketer to have scored centuries in five consecutive Test matches.
With no more Test matches in sight, India were on the verge of being dislodged from the No.1 position. The Indian board then extended a last minute invite to South Africa for two Tests and three ODIs in February.
The Test series was drawn but India won the three-match ODI series 2-1 with Tendulkar hitting a record unbeaten double ton in the second match at Gwalior.
India then traveled to the far away West Indies for the Twenty20 World Cup in April-May. They started with convincing wins against Afghanistan and South Africa and topping their group and qualifying for the Super 8 stage. But lost all their Super 8 matches to Australia, West Indies and Sri Lanka and were knocked out of the tournament. England, led by Paul Collingwood, were the new T20 champions, which was also their first world title in any format of the game.
India suffered another low in Zimbabwe under the captaincy of Suresh Raina in the triangular series, Sri Lanka being the third country. India went down to the hosts and against eventual champions Sri Lanka and failed to reach the final.
India atoned for their loss in Zimbabwe by beating Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup in Dambulla and then drew the Test series in Sri Lanka.
India again lost the next tri-series, also involving New Zealand, final to hosts Sri Lanka.
India hosted Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy featuring two Tests that the hosts won. The series also saw Tendulkar crossing 14,000 runs and returning to the top spot in the ICC Test rankings for the first time since 2002.
In the second Test in Bangalore, the nation saw the debut of young Cheteshwar Pujara, who walked in at No.3 instead of Rahul Dravid in the second innings as India chased 207 for a series victory. The 22-year-old scored a fine 72 and along with Tendulkar (53 not out) set a seven-wicket win for India.
India won the three-match ODI series against Australia 1-0 after two matches in Margao and Kochi were called-off without a ball being bowled.
New Zealand then flew down from Bangladesh for three Tests and five ODIs. India won the Test series 1-0 and a young team under stand-in captain Gambhir whitewashed the Kiwis 5-0 to end the year as the World No.2 ODI team.
Notwithstanding the midnight coup by the Indian boards top bosses by expelling Lalit Modi within minutes of Chennai Super Kings winning the IPL final April 26, the league remained a hot property as they sold two new franchises — Kochi and Pune - for $703 millions, much more than the value of the eight original franchises put together. The big question is whether the IPL will have the same stature under the new dispensation as it had under Modi.
(Abhishek Roy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)