With new blood surging up the ranks, India may not be as dependent on Sachin Tendulkar as they used to be. But the onus is still on the Little Master to lead the way where India's batting is concerned. After all, he is the touring side's most seasoned batsman with a wealth of experience under his belt, not to mention, a fortnight of intense Test matches.
In fact with India 0-1 down in the high-profile one-day series against South Africa, the time is ripe for another big knock from the batting maestro, perhaps, even a century. Tendulkar is back to the position of opener's slot where he is the most effective and destructive. Most, if not all of his one-day tons, have come as opener.
He would do well to overcome his vulnerabilities, stand his ground, launch a counter-offensive and in so doing, see the deadly new ball out, so that the batsmen that follow will have a slightly easier time settling in. It is a pity though, that he doesn't have a very confident partner in Murali Vijay. But if he plays sensibly, his inspiration might just rub off onto the lesser player who would then be inclined to emulate and mimic Sachin.
Like most Indian batsmen, Tendulkar's Achilles' heel is also the short ball. But over the years, he has perfected a technique to work around it and he would do well to fall back on that tendency in today's game as well. However, in past encounters, he has shown that he is prone to top-edging certain deliveries that are pitched up and thereby giving simple catches to fielders in the in-field.
One glaring such instance which comes to mind is the 2003 World Cup final, where Aussie pace legend Glenn McGrath foxed him with such a ball. Another example of such a scenario occurred in the 1996 Wolrd Cup in a league stage match against the West Indies, where he skied a delivery from pace bowler Ian Bishop (however, the ensuring catch opportunity was dropped by the the wicketkeeper Courtney Browne on that occasion).
Most recently, in Wednesday's first one-dayer against South Africa, he was out in a similar manner when trying to drag a middle-stump ball from Lonwabo Tsotsobe to the on-side and finding the hands of Dale Steyn in the in-field.
So, he is best sticking to what he does best - playing safe, text book cricket strokes so as to prevent succumbing to any indiscretions and impetuous shots. India beckons for another strong innings form Tendulkar. Will he respond today?