How Sachin’s first India captain helped him become ‘world’s best batsman’

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Kris Srikkanth may have captained India in just four Tests and 13 ODIs, but he had what it takes to have been given a longer captaincy rope, feels former India leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. Impressed by what he saw of Srikkanth as skipper, Sivaramakrishnan credited the former India opener for his role in shaping a young Sachin Tendulkar early on in his career.

When Tendulkar made his Test debut in November 1989 followed by his ODI debut a month later, Srikkanth was India’s captain and Sivaramakrishnan reckons the India captain instilled a sense of belief and confidence that allowed the then 16-year-old Tendulkar to thrive.

“Cheeka (Srikkanth) was an aggressive captain. He provided a lot of results. He was very proactive,” Sivaramakrishnan said on the Cricket Connected Show on Star Sports Tamil.

“A player like Tendulkar made his debut under Cheeka’s captaincy. Cheeka’s encouragement to Sachin Tendulkar at that young age gave him confidence and he went on to become the world’s best batsmen. We’ve had a lot of inspirational captains, but I always feel Cheeka could have captained more.”

Few are aware of the need for an understanding captain for a youngster better than Sivaramakrishnan. When Sivaramakrishnan burst onto the scene during the 1985 World Series in Australia, he was just 19 but backed to the hilt by the great Sunil Gavaskar, who had asked for his selection. And the leg-spinner did not disappoint his captain, claiming 10 wickets from five matches.

Even though Sivaramakrishnan ended up playing only nine Tests and 16 ODIs for India, his early success, the former leg-spinner says, was due to Gavaskar’s faith in him. “Gavaskar’s captaincy and his man management. I was only 19-years-old and I needed guidance and Gavaskar gave me that guidance perfectly,” he said.