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sachin

In one of my previous posts I talked about how I’m reconnecting with the sport that I grew up with. As I do just that, I realize that the more things have changed, the more they seem to have remained the same. Sachin Tendulkar at the ripe old age of 37 carries the expectation of an entire nation, much like he did when he arrived on the international scene 22 years ago.

Since his international debut in 1989, with a maturity that far belied his 16 years, he has stood in the middle, delivering time and again for his team. A quick look at the record books will show that he has single-handedly managed to raise the stock of Indian cricket to heights unparalleled.

There have been countless occasions when he has found himself holding up the proverbial fort, while everything around him has collapsed in a heap, with nary a fight. It is a true testament to his genius and his longevity that he finds himself in exactly the same situation 22 years hence.

Sachin Tendulkar

A Gift and a Curse!

So, why is it, despite everything that he has done and still continues to do, that we still expect him to do more? “With great power comes great responsibility” says Uncle Ben to Peter Parker, a.k.a Spider-Man, who eventually realizes that his incredible gift is also his curse.

Much like Spider-Man or any other super hero for that matter, Sachin Tendulkar carries that burden of responsibility, knowing very well that his gift of genius and greatness is as much a curse as it is a gift. What defines Tendulkar’s greatness is the fact that he has come to terms with that burden of great expectations that have felled lesser men in history past.

In a culture where mythological gods are not immune to being questioned for supposed infractions, why must Sachin Tendulkar be exempt from the wrath of people when he performs below his own monumental standards? Heck, we even go to the extent of blaming him when things go wrong for the team, despite him being the lone ranger holding off the outlaws!

This past weekend, Tendulkar hit  a breathtaking 111 runs, his 48th one-day hundred and the 99th of his storied international career, ripping into South Africa’s bowlers. Not only did he score the bulk of the 296 that the team scored, you had to see it to believe it… the “old man” was throwing his body around when his turn to field came about.

India Loses, It Must Be Tendulkar’s Fault

In the end, all of that didn’t matter as South Africa scraped through to a win in the last of its 50 overs. As much as the loss hurt for true fans, it was even more hurtful that some people believed that this was somehow the great man’s fault.

Call it superstition, or call it a big pile of crap like I do, that more than a few people bring up a nonsensical stat… “India seems to lose every time Sachin scores a hundred!” Ummm, really? So, in your own convoluted way, you’ve convinced yourself that India is better off when Sachin doesn’t score a hundred? Really?

For all those people who even consider believing this garbage, I will point you to some excellent analysis on the topic here. I however, wanted to delve just a little deeper into not just the numbers, but also the human psychology that drives one to believe something to be true when it is really not.

Mind Tricks

Let’s start with the possible reason why people are inclined to believe that India loses when Sachin scores a hundred. When India wins, you are happy, and it’s conveniently lost on your mind that the great man scored a century. It’s almost like you knew that would happen and take it for granted. After all, he has scored close to a hundred hundreds (!!) for you to remember which one ended in a win, right?

On the flip side, when India loses, the one things that stands out is that Sachin scored a hundred. So you wonder why India didn’t win despite him making a hundred. Your mind starts associating bad results with hundreds from Sachin. That’s when you start believing conjecture to be the truth!

Typically, when someone makes a score of 100 or more, the likelihood of his team winning goes way higher. Just go look at the stats if you don’t believe me. You’d have to wonder how badly the rest of the team screws up to throw away that kind of advantage.

It’s a Team Sport, Isn’t it?

The match against South Africa being the perfect example! When Tendulkar left, India were sitting pretty at 267 for 2 with about 10 overs to go. Where the team should have had a total score of no less than 325, the remaining 8 wickets, representing very good batsmen no less, much to the chagrin of every Indian fan, simply collapsed for an addition of 29 (you cannot be serious!) runs, leaving South Africa with a very manageable target.

To rub salt into the wounds, the bowling (and to some extent the captaincy) came apart at the seams in the last over, when South Africa needed 17 to make off 6 balls and needed only five to get them. How could this disaster have been averted, you ask? Yeah, Tendulkar “should” have stayed at the crease longer so we could get more runs right? One of my Facebook friends had this on his wall, that just about sums it up… “It’s called a ‘team’ sport”.

The Evidence In The Numbers

Now let’s look at some tangible evidence that exposes the myth for the bull shit that it is, shall we? Here’s some research that I did to see Sachin’s impact on Indian cricket as a whole as well as their wins in one day internationals…

Wins Losses Win %
Without Tendulkar In Team 150 160 48.39
With Tendulkar In Team 226 195 53.68
When He Hits A Century 33 13 71.74
When He Scores ~ 99 11 7 61.11
When He Scores 50+ 89 48 64.96
When He Scores Between 50 & 99 56 55 50.45
When He Scores Less Than 25 87 110 44.16
When He Doesn’t Score 11 11 50.00

 

This must come as a complete shock to some of those detractors, but it is no surprise to me, or the true fans of Tendulkar that India has a better chance of winning by him simply being in the team. That chance of winning goes up by 11% points when he scores in the 50s through to the 90s. So, what is the best chance of India winning a ODI you ask? Not when he scores just a fifty, not when he scores in the nineties, but, that’s right… repeat after me… when Tendulkar scores a century!

So, if you are hoping for India to win the ICC world cup this time around, you’d want to throw all that superstitious garbage out the window, hope that Tendulkar scores a hundred or more, on every single occasion that he steps to the crease, and… pray that the rest of the team throws its weight behind the little master!

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