Mumbai: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said that Sachin Tendulkar getting some runs under his belt in the Ranji Trophy match before the upcoming four-Test series against England is a good sign. Gavaskar was one of those who had said the 39-year-old's mode of dismissals in recent matches was concerning.
"He is one the most hardworking studious guys you come across. I think Sachin would have got enough time to think about how he got out. If he has got the runs now, obviously he has worked hard for it. "The evidence will be seen in the Test matches. The fact that he has got runs is a good sign," Gavaskar told reporters at an event where he was honoured for his 34 centuries by a Swiss luxury watch firm.
Yesterday, Tendulkar roared back to form ahead of the upcoming Test series against England with a strokeful 137 in 136 balls against Railways in the Ranji match. On his earlier comment on the senior batsman's dismissals, he said, "That was the early part of the season. Some people can be a little bit rusty. India had a rare two months off from international cricket. May be it was a case of rustiness. But he is somebody who would have noticed it himself and studied the videos. So I don't see too much of an issue."
On the series against arch-rivals Pakistan, to be held in between the Test and ODI series against England, Gavaskar clarified that he has no objection but felt the timing was slightly odd as India would have no rest before facing Australia after the long series against the English. Gavaskar was moved when presented with a watch and said it will be his 25 years of retirement on Monday and also recounted a nightmarish experience in 1971, just before the series against the West Indies.
"In the New York flight I started screaming and the on-board doctor gave me tranquilisers. When we reached an infirmary, the nurse mad a bad face because of the swollen finger and pus. The doctors told me it was lucky we had a stopover otherwise gangrene would have set in and we would have had to chop that finger off. "I couldn't play the warm up matches because it was my top hand and I couldn't hold the bat, " he said, adding that he noticed a similar thing in the morning but used a band aid this time around," recollected Gavaskar.
Gavaskar said India will an edge over England in the upcoming Test series if they manage to win the first match, but added that the hosts' batting line-up looks shaky. "I have always believed that home teams have an edge. They are familiar with the conditions. They are able to be in the surroundings they are comfortable in. You know the pitch conditions.
"In 2011, England very vulnerable, Australia were very vulnerable. The first Test becomes an important factor. England won the first Test and Australia won the first Test. You derive strength from that. If India wins the first Test, I don't think England will be able to come back," Gavaskar said. He maintained that the batting looks depleted with the retirement of senior players like Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman and the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir struggling for form.
"The batting looks a bit shaky. The opening pair's form doesn't look that good. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have retired. Cheteshwar Pujara is new. The batting looks a bit weakened to what we had earlier. "Just now the season has started... if the players are in form then even we can score 500-600 runs. In bowling Umesh Yadav is new. Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin's combination has not become that popular. It is not the same attack we had a couple of years ago," he said.
Asked to predict the outcome of the series, Gavaskar hoped India would make a clean sweep. "It is hard to predict but I hope so. I hope it is 4-0 against England and 4-0 against Australia. It is what we suffered in 2011," he said. Gavaskar conceded that the opening pair is woefully out of form, but said it is premature to think about tinkering with it. "It is good that there is competition because competition ensures that nobody takes his place for granted. We have got a set opening pair with Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.
Unless the situation is dire, unless the situation is that somebody is so out of form, I don't think we should be doing unnecessary changes. "We have got a pair who understand each other, (it) is not an easy thing. It takes time for a new pair, new combination to settle. I think we should wait a bit before taking any decision," he said. On the much-debated number six spot that is up for grabs, he said, "After Yuvi's performance with not just the bat but also the five wickets, he gives the extra flexibility to the skipper.
He brings in different angle of attack. Down the order at no.6 if he gets going, he can smash any attack. "Yuvraj has made a case for himself. The way he bowled and the way he has batted. He brings another option. He gives the captain flexibility in terms of bowling and batting. One of England's leading and dangerous batsmen Kevin Pietersen has been susceptible to left-hand spinner." Asked about captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's form and trying out different captains for different formats, he said, "Dhoni's form will not be a worry on Indian pitches.
The Australian system of picking the best 11 and then choosing the captain I think is very good. None of the players have doubt about a person's place in the team. "As of now Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an automatic choice. If he is an automatic selection then he continues to be the captain. When he is not an automatic selection then you can look at somebody else being the captain."