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Googler says . . .


The googler's Player of the Month produced arguably some of his most devastating performances ever with the bat in this month, but his April began in a most unlikely fashion, carrying on in fact from where his March left off... as a born-again leg-spinner. It was his 5-32 on April 1 against Australia, mostly with sharply turning wrist spin, that was responsible for India's victory in the opening match of the Pepsi Triangular Cup. Maybe it was just his April Fool's Day joke on the Australians. If so, it worked.

But after that, back to serious business. His 100 from 89 balls in his next meeting with Australia on April 7 included no less than seven sixes. Although this was his sole batting highlight of the Indian one-day series, better was to come in the Coca Cola Cup at Sharjah. An 80 from 72 balls against Australia on April 19 was enough to give him the man-of-the-match award on a losing side. On the 22nd, with India seemingly down and out and facing a difficult task of qualifying for the final, a desert storm whipped up a batting frenzy - 142 in 131 balls, with 9 fours and 5 sixes - not enough to win the game over Australia, but enough to bring India back from the dead and into the final on net run rate. The last act came in the Sharjah final on the 24th. Faced with a stiff target of 273 for victory, he dominated from the start to complete 134 in 131 balls and take India to an tournament win that earlier in the week seemed impossible. The award of Man of the Series was only fitting... and on his 25th birthday as well. If he stays in the game till 35 or beyond then all existing career aggregate records will surely fall to him.

If there is such a thing as the Tall Poppy Syndrome in cricket then he took to the tall poppies of Australia over the past two months and cut them down with brutality - 1130 runs in ten matches, first-class, Test and one-day, at an average of 113.00. Though Shane Warne won the occasional battle against him, there can be no doubt who won the war between the two. The hurt of being dumped as Indian captain is now far behind him, and in hindsight the best thing for him and for his nation's team.

Much has been said of his greatness in the week since, and it shows the dangers of attempting valued judgments in an atmosphere of euphoria. To compare his batting style with Bradman is baffling - he hits more sixes in a busy month than Bradman did in his entire career. To compare him to Pollock (Graeme) or Richards (either) is to compare unlike geniuses. To compare his 1998 to Lara's 1994 is equally as incongruous. Perhaps with his new found versatility in bowling he is aiming for a comparison with Sobers. What is important is that we are seeing an extremely special batsman at work, and that we should savour the great moments that we have witnessed during the month just ended.

the googler's Player of the Month for April 1998, and for the second time this year, is known to many fans simply by the initials SRT, but to spell out in full: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.