Sachin at 50 – Why he is a Benchmark for Investors
As Sachin Tendulkar turns 50, let us look back at the massive difference he has made to Indian cricket, Indian hopes, and Indian aspirations. Notwithstanding his greatness on the field, and statistics are eloquent testimony of that, what really stands out is the memorable cricket knocks he played. Most of his outstanding cricketing knocks also carry an important lesson for investors. Here we look at 6 such unforgettable innings of Tendulkar and the hidden investment message; not ranked in any order.
Audacious 114 at Perth in 1992: The power of one
The year 1992 was when the Australian team was just getting its moorings. Perth in Western Australia is known for its incredibly pacy and bouncy wickets. As Indian batsmen struggled to tackle the pace and the bounce, an 18-year old Tendulkar decided to take the bull by the horns. He met pace with aggression and by the time he was out for a well-compiled 114, even the Australians knew they were watching a champion.
What is in it for the investors? Quite often, the solution to any problem is through it. As investors, we often spend too much time trying to avoid or skirting problems. There is one more important takeaway for investors in this incredible knock. In our obsession for portfolios and diversification we lose sight of the fact that it is a handful of stocks that eventually make the difference. As Tendulkar proved on that day; it is always possible for one or a few to make a big difference.
Well Crafted 103 versus England at Chennai, 2008: Beat the devil within
Playing against the English spinners had always been a tricky affair. Swann and Panesar were tough customers and India learnt it the hard way. Tendulkar was always the great player, but lacking match-winning knocks. Chasing 387 in the fourth innings against a crafty English bowling was going to be a slippery affair. Tendulkar held his nerve and his wicket to see India safely through a massive fourth innings target.
When Tendulkar started the knock, there were the devils within. He had to make victory a reality. This happens so often in investments too. You often get caught in the experiences of the past and that tends to impact your investment decisions. In the process, you miss out on opportunities. Kill the devil within. Each investment day is a new day and treat it as such.
Desert storm at Sharjah 1998: Quite often, investing is about self-belief
The term desert storm was used literally and metaphorically. Sharjah was just recovering from a desert storm and the conditions had become very difficult in a day-night match. For India to qualify for the finals, somebody had to play out of their skin against a formidable Australian attack. It was Tendulkar once again hitting an unbeaten 143, with the next best being 35. India fell short but qualified for the final, where they eventually beat Australia.
Self-belief is so important, yet so elusive in investing. Most investors tend to be plagued by doubt and second thoughts. Data and analysis can take you up to a point. After that, you have to go with your gut. That is where self-belief can come in handy as an investor. Whether you are facing volatile market conditions or intractable stocks, you need conviction that you are on the right path. Beyond that, other things do not really matter.
Match saving 119 versus England in 1990: Some victories are subtle
The unbeaten 119 by Tendulkar was special for a number of reasons. He was just 18 and this was his first test century. India had their backs to the wall and were fighting to avoid a loss. It required one man to bat smartly without getting bogged down. That is what Tendulkar did. By the time the match was called off, India was just 60 runs shy of their victory target. An amazing turn of events compared to where India started off in the morning.
Could the match have resulted in a victory for India? We will never know, but the message is that in cricket and in investing, some of the victories are quite subtle. For instance, we often give most of the credit for investment performance to the star stock picks. Actually, the truth could be that you did not do anything stupid. Or you may have opted to wait out when the markets were awfully volatile. These victories are not captured in statistics but they are subtle and a lot more important.
Stodgy 241 versus Australia at Sydney, 2004: Discipline is often the key
Why do we equate this knock with discipline? During the series, Tendulkar had gotten out trying to hit the ball through the covers. That was his natural style but on Australian wickets and against the Australian attack, it was working against him. Through the knock of 241, Tendulkar adhered to the discipline not to hit the ball through the covers. He not only scored a double hundred, but remained unbeaten.
It is said that in investing if you want to stretch yourself, try discipline. There is no better way of testing yourself. Discipline comes in a number of ways. But it is essentially about not yielding to the temptation of what looks like the low hanging fruit. Discipline can be a double edged sword as you may end up missing opportunities. But that is small price to pay, as Sachin Tendulkar proved in the end.
Clinical 136 against Pakistan in Chennai, 1999: Get the process right
Playing in Chennai in summer can be mentally and physically dehydrating. India was chasing 271 against one of the finest Pakistan attacks ever and half the side was back with just 80 on board. Sachin with a sprained back walked in and partnered with lower order players to score an incredible 136. Eventually, India lost by 12 runs, but it hardly mattered. Here was a man, who focused on the process to perfection.
In investing, we often focus too much on results, strategies without giving adequate weight to the more mundane process. If you get the process right, everything eventually falls in place. India lost the Chennai test, but the process was so evident that India went on to win the next match against Pakistan. That was the difference.
As Tendulkar turns 50, here is wishing him another healthy 50 years. May he continue to inspire cricket lovers and investors alike.
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