In the first Youth Test between India and Sri Lanka at Colombo in the 2018 series, our Under-19 beat their Lankan counterparts by a good innings and 21 runs. This was the 274th Youth Test played and it’s something that gets very little attention in the Indian media.
18-year-old Ayush Badoni was the star of the match clobbering an unbeaten 185 off just 205 balls studded with 19 fours and four sixes. He also took a fine 4-24 to give a solid all-round performance. Badoni was ably supported by 18-year-old Atharwa Taide who scored a century and 18-year-old Harsh Tyagi, who also had a 4-wicket haul.
But very few Indian cricket fans would have heard of the exploits of this troika for the very simple reason that there was someone else that played in the match and didn’t do much. His role in the Test, though minimal, was splashed all over the media organizations and it was as if that was the only thing that mattered.
Here’s a look at that part of the scorecard…
Kamil Mishara lbw b Arjun Tendulkar
(Yes, son of the great legend Sachin Tendulkar)
Here’s one headline on that wicket…
Arjun Tendulkar shines on global debut, Vinod Kambli cries “tears of joy”
Of course, it was just a solitary wicket in the match and Arjun didn’t get a 5-wicket haul or something. There were many more headlines on his batting performance though…
Arjun Tendulkar put for an 11-ball duck in his first Youth Test match
Here is how Arjun Tendulkar’s father—Sachin Tendulkar—debuted in cricket
Like Sachin in his first ODI, Arjun Tendulkar dismissed for zero in debut innings for India U-19
Arjun Tendulkar gets out for a duck in his India Under-19 debut, gets trolled mercilessly
Arjun Tendulkar's poor India U19 debut steals focus from teammates
So it was all about poor Arjun. A wicket and a duck sure beat centuries and 4-wicket hauls from other players. It was a real sense of déjà vu as you may remember when the great Sachin played; it was all about him and nothing else.
Whether Sachin failed or succeeded, it would be him in the headlines. Rahul Dravid and other players forever lived in his shadow. Even about the time when he retired when MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli were winning matches upon matches, it was still about Sachin.
When Dinesh Karthik played a few lusty shots in an ODI and won us the match, he was accused to denying Sachin a century by scoring too many runs.
When Virender Sehwag scored India’s first Test triple century in Pakistan, a commentator said that he was lucky to have Tendulkar at the other end. (Wasn’t actually Tendulkar lucky to have seen India’s first Test century live at the field?)
When Rohit Sharma entered Test cricket, the commentator said that he was lucky to debut in Tendulkar’s farewell series and remember it just for that. Well Rohit was man of the series and scored two back to back unbeaten centuries, so we are sure he will remember it mainly for that!
But now Ayush Badoni, Atharwa Taide and Harsh Tyagi know how Sachin’s team-mates felt because they now happen to be team-mates of another Tendulkar. Had there been no Arjun, then maybe this troika would have found themselves in the headlines in a bigger way.
The last time when Arjun was caught in a controversy was when a certain 15-year-old Pranav Dhanawade hit the headlines. Dhanawade hit an unprecedented 1009 not out in 323 balls, with 59 sixes and 129 fours in an inter-school match. He broke a record that had been made by AEJ Collins in the nineteenth century.
However in an Under-19 West Zone match, Arjun made the cut and not Dhanawade. Memes comparing the two went viral on social media. It probably was not the kind of attention that both Sachin and Arjun wanted.
It brings us to the fact that all this attention on Arjun will be counter-productive. We should just leave the poor chap alone. Sachin scored a triple century in an Inter-School Harris Shield Tournament match and put on a world record 664-run stand with Kambli. Then Sachin performed at the international level. That is not so with Arjun.
If we continue to put Arjun’s sub-par performances in match report headlines, then one is doing a dis-service to both him and his team-mates. Concentrate on the scores and performances, not the dynasties!
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here