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September 24, 2002
1432 IST

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Tendulkar questions remain despite Sehwag's success

Kunal Pradhan

Virender Sehwag may be in inspired form at the top of the Indian batting order with captain Sourav Ganguly at the ICC Champions Trophy, but several former Test players still feel the slot should belong to Sachin Tendulkar.

The 29-year-old Tendulkar has been moved to number four to bring more stability to the one-day batting and the move is bringing dividends, particularly overseas where the team has often under-performed.

"I still feel Sachin is a champion opener and should come at the head of the order," said former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar.

"If he is scoring 100 at number four, he can score 150-160 if he bats at one."

The decision has also not gone down well with millions of Tendulkar fans, who feel he would have a better chance of scoring centuries opening the batting.

"The issue," former England captain Geoffrey Boycott counters, "is not if Tendulkar is breaking records but if India are winning matches.

"The openers have the luxury to go for their shots because they know the best batsman in the world is still to come in."

Skipper Ganguly, who has also asked batsman Rahul Dravid to keep wicket in one-day games, says the order should have been changed even earlier.

"Our strategy of making Sachin and Rahul bat lower down is working well and the batting looks deep," he said.

"We have already seen the benefit of this over the last two series and these were changes we should have done long ago."


Tendulkar started his new role in the West Indies in May and India duly clinched the one-day series 2-1 with Tendulkar scoring a sparkling 65 in the decider at Trinidad.

The Bombay player, who holds the world record for both one-day runs (11,521) and centuries (33), came up with a cracking 105 not out in a rain-abandoned match against England in July.

India then went on to win the triangular tournament, also involving Sri Lanka, chasing a mammoth 326 for victory in the final against England at Lord's.

The team plays South Africa on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in Colombo, after Sehwag and Ganguly both hammered centuries in raising 192 for the first wicket against England on Sunday.

But the Tendulkar nostalgia remains.

"I think India have asked Sachin to bat at number four so he can be more comfortable against the swinging ball. When he gets his confidence back, they should move him back up," former Test spinner Maninder Singh has said.

"Sachin has done wonders as an opener with Ganguly. Sehwag could be useful down the order as well."

India have also benefited in the last three months because of youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, who cracked 111 not out for his maiden one-day century against Zimbabwe this month.

Wadekar said: "Yuvraj and Kaif have been playing with a lot of heart. That's great news ahead of the 2003 World Cup."

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