I don’t know about you, but as we enter this critical final day in the first test I get the distinct sense of déjà vu. The déjà vu is being brought about by the fact that India is again relying on the wide (and surely tired) shoulders of the little master, Sachin Tendulkar. History tells us that Tendulkar will deliver on the big stage. But surely there will come a time when the pressure of being India’s go-to man time-after-time will get the better of Tendulkar. It may not be the case today, but India must realise that he can’t continue forever, and at that time they will have to start relying on those who replace him.
Tendulkar’s 98 in the first innings was pure class. Unlike many of his younger teammates, Tendulkar is a genius at understanding the state of play and adjusting his style of batting appropriately. At that stage the game didn’t require him to blast his way to a quick-fire score, instead it required a calm, solid and controlled knock, and of course Tendulkar delivered. Rahul Dravid and Suresh Raina also provided good runs to the total, but it was Tendulkar who anchored the innings.
Now again, Tendulkar has been thrust into a position of having to steer India out of the abyss. After an incredibly impressive second innings bowling performance, particularly from Ishant Sharma, India worked their way into a strong position. However, too many of their batsmen find it impossible to adjust to the situation. Virender Sehwag is an outstandingly gifted batsman, but he knows only one way, and his way was not suited to this run chase. It made me remember a fantastic innings in Adelaide by Chris Gayle last year. Gayle is known as being a swashbuckling smasher, but changed his style when his side needed it. His century showed great maturity. Sehwag made his runs quickly, but got out when his side could least afford it. Even Dravid, usually so reliable, was too keen to score quickly, and was out flashing at a ludicrously wide ball from Doug Bollinger. Now India finds itself four wickets down for not many, and again having to rely on Tendulkar to see them home.
Tendulkar will probably do it again, the records say he must, but surely when he goes home at night he must dream, as Brian Lara did in his West Indian side, that someone else may take it upon themselves to perform when his team needs it most. Until then, we’ll just have to rely on the magic of the little master.
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