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Rule tweaks behind big ODI totals: Sachin

Sachin Tendulkar takes nothing away from the current crop of batsmen but the Indian great believes a slew of rule changes have led to ballooning scores in one-day cricket.

India will become the first team to play 1000 one-day internationals when they host the West Indies in Sunday’s series-opener in Ahmedabad.

Tendulkar has featured in 463 of them and his tally of 18,426 runs remains an unmatched benchmark even a decade after he played the last of his ODIs.

“I wouldn’t take away any credit from batters, but rules and conditions have changed,” the 48-year-old told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Batters’ strike rates are way higher than it used to be in the 1990s, and bowlers’ economy rates are also higher … average runs scored in 50 overs today is way more than it was in the 1990s.

“Two new balls, field restrictions and change in match timings – these elements have changed the game over the years.”

Bowling with two new balls has effectively killed reverse swing in one-day cricket, according to Tendulkar, whose 49 ODI centuries remains a record.

“I haven’t seen much of reverse swing. Maybe it reverses a little bit 46th over onwards, because the ball is actually 23-overs old.

“With one new ball, it would begin reversing from the 24th over and you bowl another 26 overs with that.”

The current crop of batsmen have also been spared the trouble of facing a discoloured ball, the former India captain said.

“When the ball gets discoloured, you don’t see it spinning in the air. That’s when an off-spinner’s doosra or a leg-spinner’s googly becomes more effective.

“Also when the discoloured ball is reversing, you don’t pick the shiny side and the scruffed-up side. You take a fraction longer and the fraction lost made a batter’s life more difficult.”

The rule requiring five players inside the ring has encouraged batsmen to go over the top and the advent of day-night matches has also worked in their favour, said Tendulkar.

“ODIs would start at 9 o’clock and there was more life in the surface at 9 o’clock in the morning.

“It made a huge difference. You had to bat differently, you had to plan differently.”

Tendulkar quit international cricket in 2013 with 100 centuries to his name, which also included the first ODI double hundred by a male cricketer.

He feels bowlers have become more defensive since his retirement and he would not alter anything about his batting if he were to play today.

“I would have continued batting the same way,” said Tendulkar.

“In the 1999 World Cup match against Pakistan, Wasim Akram was bowling the 47th over with a slip. Would you see something like that in today’s cricket? No chance.”

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