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B Baskar

Spare a thought for this man too

| Updated on November 07, 2013 Published on November 07, 2013

chanderpaul   -  PTI

Amidst all the hype surrounding Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell test series, it’s heartening to note that at least some people are paying tribute to West Indian batsmen Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The test match between India and West Indies next week at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium will be Tendulkar's last and Chanderpaul’s 150th. Apart from Tendulkar, Chanderpaul is the only cricketer in the present series who made his debut in the 1990s.

For 148 tests Chanderpaul has ‘nudged’ his way to more than 10,000 runs with an impressive average of 52. His record against India is nothing short of phenomenal, he averages 65 against India. He also scored his first test hundred against India in 1997, in the test where India failed to chase 121, losing by 38 runs in Tendulkar’s first stint as captain.

To call Chanderpaul’s batting style unorthodox would be an understatement. From his unique way of taking guard (he bangs the bail into the ground) to his two-shouldered stance, which has only got ‘squarer’ with each passing year, he has given unorthodoxy a whole new dimension. But to call him dour would be unfair. He scores runs at a fair clip. He even has a 69-ball century in tests against an Australian attack which boasted of McGrath, Bret Lee and Warne.

He made his debut way back in 1994 against England, in the series where Lara scored 375 not out and broke Gary Sobers’ record. In fact Chanderpaul gave Lara company at the other end and himself scored a polished unbeaten half-century.

Chanderpaul in some ways is carrying on with legacy of the other two Indo-Guyanese greats – Rohan Kanhai and Alvin Kallicharan – though their batting styles could not be farther apart. Both Kanhai and Kallicharan were exciting stroke players in the classical mould, whereas Chanderpaul would shudder at the very thought of classicism.

The all-conquering West Indies of the 1980s had no player of East Indian descent. Kallicharan had left the scene by 1980-81 and Rangy Nanan played just one test in the early 1980s. But in an era where West Indies were producing fast bowlers at will, an off-spinner like Nanan had little chance to forge a test career. So it was nice to see Chanderpaul breaking into the West Indies side in the 1990s and holding on for so long.

By the time Chanderpaul made his debut, West Indies cricket had already started its slow and steady decline. By that time Richards, Marshall, Greenidge and Haynes had all retired and though Walsh and Ambrose soldiered on for a few years, the writing was clearly on the wall. But Chanderpaul along with Lara batted along gamely even when West Indies were losing test series at home and abroad with alarming regularity.

Chanderpaul even had a brief shot at captaincy but if there is one similarity between him and Tendulkar, it was their mediocre record as captains.

But Chanderpaul’s perseverance has paid off. West Indies have shown a resilience of late and their fortunes have begun to revive. And Chanderpaul has played no small part in that revival.

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Published on November 07, 2013
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