India are not a one man team but they are sure as hell a better side when Sachin Tendulkar bats well! He is the focus of attention by the opposition bowlers and so good that even when Ganguly and Azza went cheaply he took the pressure on his shoulders and batted like a man inspired. I don't think he is just a great batsman, now he is streets ahead of any player in the world. His 19th one-day international century was brilliantly inevitable. When you think he holds the record for one-day centuries and yet his first one came in the 79th match and this one in the 201st, he is now averaging a century every 6 innings. Unbelievable statistics.
His runs are made at an alarmingly fast rate from orthodox textbook shots. No slogging-just exquisite timing with that heavy bat. One glorious front foot off drive from Kasprovicz was perfect and everyone will remember it but for me the harder shots were two off the back foot from the same bowler early on. One went for a boundary behind square and one in front of square, both with the full face of the bat straight. The only difference was having the skill to play one shot a little later than the other.
His balance is so good to the seamers, a slight movement back a little movement forward, but always he is balanced on the ball of the feet ready to spring further forward or back. Balance is the key and his footwork was so good like a ballet dance. Inexperienced Brad Young in his second one-day game was out of his depth. Tendulkar belted him out of the attack with two sixes over mid-off and the only way the Aussies were going to get him out was to run him out.
The partnership with Rahul Dravid was a good lesson for all the Indian players. Dravid batted well for his 48 but it did take him 80 balls.
If I had one constructive thought for him and others in the team it is to remember to play for Tendulkar when he is batting well. Accept you are `second fiddle' to him and take a single as early as you can in the over to give the bowling to Sachin. Don't waste three balls before getting a single as Rahul did sometimes. The field is spread, so collect your easy single. There were times when Sachin could not get enough bowling. You have to accept that your job is to give him the bowling because the more balls he receives the bigger the final Indian total will be. Don't try and compete with him. Be smart -while the bowlers are concentrating on Sachin it makes batting at the other end easier.
Sachin thought he had won the match with his 141 runs but just when Australian batsmen were in control he had to win it with his bowling. His bowling isn't special but he uses his head to think out batsmen, that is better than any bowling ability. He realised from batting against Mark Waugh's gentle off-spsin that the slower you bowled the spinners, the harder it was to hit. Waugh had got away with 6 overs for 27 runs. Sachin got 4 wickets as well as only going for 38 runs in 9.1 overs. His cleverest bit of all was bowling little leg- breaks and trying up Steve Waugh and then charging to bowl off breaks around the wicket to left- handers, Lehmann and Bevan. They are two of the best batsmen in the world against spinners and he tied them up in knots! Only one boundary off him, and that because Srinath misfielded.
He batted like a magician, bowled hand grenades and beat the Aussies single hended.