A Cricket World Cup in Australia, be it in any format, cannot be consumed without talking to the man who Australia and Australians fall in love with his batting performances Down Under. Sachin Tendulkar, like many, is looking forward to the T20 World Cup and judging by his ‘Namibia told the cricket world today, “Nam” Yaad Rakhna” tweet following the African nation’s upset win over Sri Lanka in Geelong on Sunday to describe, he keeps a close eye on proceedings.
Namibia 🇳🇦 told the cricket world today… “Nam” yaad rakhna! 👏🏻
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) 1665907065000
Tendulkar may have played only one T20I, but he was the backbone for Mumbai Indians from 2008 to 2013, setting scoreboards on fire with innovative strokeplay. After the T20 game developed from 2008, Tendulkar is in awe of some of the shots that the players face into the nets almost immediately.
Tracing the evolution of T20s, Tendulkar says, “There are different types of shots that players practice even in the nets these days. We used to practice them once in a while. But today the kind of shots that these guys practice….”
A compulsive thinker and a cerebral cricketer, Tendulkar enjoys the various fielding positions that captains take up in T20s. “Positions like short third man have become crucial. Earlier, players were still figuring out positions like this.”
After seeing two days of action from Australia where wickets are usually hard and resilient, Tendulkar believes that cricket is not usually played in the months of October and early November in Australia and this could affect the scores.
What will his tactics be then if he is stuffed in the dug outs or mentors one of the teams? “I would say focus on getting off to a good start. I watched the game yesterday (SL vs Namibia at Geelong) and the surface had moisture. The ball shaped to the pacers and grabbed hold of the spinners. If there’s not enough sun is not, and there is grass on the field, wickets will not be difficult. It would be better to focus less on strike rate and keep wickets in hand. Teams will not go hard in the power play because you will not 185-plus or 190 doesn’t get -plus. 170 can be a winning total.”
You ask him about India, and he says, “The balance in the team should see them comfortably qualify for the semi-finals.”
If it has to happen, Suryakumar Yadav, now Team India‘s X-factor and the prized scalp for competitors, will have to have a big World Cup. Tendulkar has seen Surya develop and flourish for both Mumbai, Mumbai Indians and India. What was the key to its evolution?
“Trust and appreciation,” says Tendulkar.
“There is no better tonic than being encouraged and appreciated,” adds Tendulkar, saying the 32-year-old always had the ability and talent to play special shots. “It’s just that he does it more consistently now. Success and appreciation have also changed him as a person. He plays so confidently today because he knows he doesn’t have to worry about being selected.”
Another cricketer he has seen up close for India, Mumbai and MI is captain Rohit Sharma. Of late, his form has been spotty and even his animated behavior on the field after a misfield, catch or a poor over has sparked a meme-fest on social media and sparked debates about whether the pressure of captaincy ‘ a toll
However, Tendulkar does not want to read too much into it. “When someone tries hard to make the team win and things don’t happen the way you want, these things happen. Some people are calm, others react differently. If someone is calm, it doesn’t mean the person is trying hard. At the same time as a person is very animated and aggressive does not mean that the person is disturbed.”
Tendulkar chose not to comment on the DK vs Rishabh Pant debated and sent away to discuss team combinations. But he only warned: “Summer hasn’t arrived; fields can play differently. It’s best to be flexible.”
However, he said that places that will have infields may produce belts, as the wickets “will be well looked after.”
He concluded the conversation by naming his semi-finalists. “India and Pakistan out of our group. But I would pick South Africa as a dark horse as the conditions will reflect what they are used to in October and November. In the other group I expect Australia and England to qualify with New- Zealand as the dark horse.”