Cape Town: Sachin Tendulkar's brutal assault on Pakistan's formidable fast bowlers was an almost perfect execution of a plan he had agonised over in the initial days of the current World Cup.The Indian genius used his "floating" technique to almost perfection against the arch rival as he put to sword the trio of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar and conjured one of the finest innings ever seen in One-day cricket.Tendulkar deliberately took a guard to expose his three stumps and offer it as a bait to the Pakistan pacers, who fell for it despite their vast experience.
Tendulkar exposed his stumps in the hope that the rival fast bowlers would salivate at the sight of open three stumps and would try to york him and in turn present him with overpitched deliveries, which he could flick behind square leg with disdain or swing his arms freely to thump it on the offside."Yes, I took the guard which was not what I normally prefer in international matches," Tendulkar admitted."I could then come inside the line to flick it or swing my arms freely for off-side strokes," he said.
Tendulkar had been troubled by the tactics adopted by Australia in the league game at Centurion Park on February 15 when Glenn McGrath and company started bowling wider to him on the off stump in an attempt to force him to reach out rather than execute his array of shots.Australians were quick to change their tactics once Tendulkar had smashed Glenn McGrath for 14 runs in one over with flicks and off-drives for boundaries.McGrath later said Tendulkar had dared him to bowl to his stumps but he did not fall for it. "Why should I bowl to your strength and get punished," McGrath had then remarked.
Tendulkar, unable to feed off deliveries, finally fell leg before to Jason Gillespie for 36 when he came too much inside the line of a slower delivery.Tendulkar mulled over this failure and worked out a method through which the bowlers would try to bowl him on the stumps rather than bowl way outside and frustrate his stroke-making.It worked to perfection against Pakistan and before the fearsome fast bowlers could realise, 50 was up only in the fifth over and 100 well within 12 overs and Tendulkar himself had raced to 73 from a mere 47 deliveries at one stage.
Tendulkar also used his tremendous adrenalin control to his advantage, an area in which Pakistan fast bowlers failed miserably.Tendulkar was not pumped up by his hectic shot-making and calmly went for judicious play. In contrast, Pakistan pacers attempted to bowl still faster and shorter and played into the hands of the little genius. Tendulkar's career is littered with innings where he has used his head more than his bat to overcome odds. When Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka had bowled his left-arm spinners beyond the leg stump and curled it on his pads in one of the series in mid-90s, Tendulkar invented his paddle shot to overcome the tactics.
Similarly, Tendulkar had practiced to hit leg spinners against the spin in a bid to counter Shane Warne when the Australians visited India for a tour in 1998.South Africa's Shaun Pollock and company were at the receiving end when they packed the off side field and bowled to Tendulkar short and wide on the off stump during the Bloomfontein Test of 2001. Tendulkar replied with cuts over slips and before the opposition had realised, he had 155 on the board for himself.
Tendulkar, with loads of talent, also has the intelligence to shift his batting gears once he sizes up the bowlers and conditions as he showed in his innings against Holland and Namibia in this competition.Confronted with the slow medium pacers of the opposition bowlers of these two teams on slow wickets, Tendulkar completely eschewed extravagant shots and almost entirely depended on nudges and steers to rattle up scores of 52 and 152.In 2001-2002 season, Ashley Giles of England and Raymond Price of Zimbabwe tried to muzzle Tendulkar with their left-arm spinners, which were pitched in full beyond the leg stump and were neither full tosses or short enough for Tendulkar to employ paddle sweep. It did restrict Tendulkar from being his usual fluent self but he still managed 307 at 76.75 against England and 254 at 86.87 in the series against Zimbabwe.
Last summer, England captain Nasser Hussain asked his fast bowlers to go round the wicket and bowl short-pitched deliveries at Tendulkar's rib-cage in an effort to cramp him up. Tendulkar did fall for the tactics in the first Test at Lord's but then worked out an answer which fetched him 401 runs at 66.93 by the end of the Test series. PTI