Monday 2 April 2007 

Pressure Intensifies For Tendulkar

India's premier batsman Sachin Tendulkar may not escape the wrath of the cricket-crazy country's fans following the team's disastrous World Cup.

The 1983 winners crashed out in the first round of the event after losing two out of three group matches, to Bangladesh and former champions Sri Lanka. Irate fans and a number of former players have called for the axe to fall on captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell, while senior players are also under fire.

Local media on Monday highlighted a television news channel's poll that showed 64 percent of those who responded wanted Tendulkar to retire.

The Asian Age newspaper quoted another television poll of 60 current and former first-class cricketers on Tendulkar's future, which found that a third were in favour of Tendulkar retiring from both test and one-day international cricket.

More than half wanted him to retire just from one-day internationals while one in 10 wanted him to retire from all forms of cricket.

The 33-year-old Tendulkar became the darling of Indian households since making his debut as a curly-haired 16-year-old in 1989, but at this World Cup he flopped against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and managed only a half century against Bermuda.

Former South African batsman Barry Richards said it would take a huge commitment for Tendulkar to regain his former dominance with the bat. "He could slaughter the minnows, in other words he's still capable of taking lesser attacks to task, but to truly earn the respect of his peers he has to score runs when it matters and against the best," Richards wrote in a column on Monday.

"Does he have the dedication to do that or has all the pressure over nearly two decades taken a toll on body and mind? Only Sachin can answer that and his answer must be honest."

Tendulkar has been a shadow of his former self since shoulder surgery in March last year.

Former England captain Mike Atherton suggested in his column in the Sunday Telegraph that commercial interests might be the only reason for Tendulkar to stay.

"The truth is that Tendulkar has been marketed as a brand for some time, advertising many of the biggest commercial names in India," he wrote.

"There are many interested parties who are keen to see Tendulkar wearing India's colours for a while yet."


© Reuters 2007.