Fitness has hardly ever been an issue for someone with the career longevity of Sachin Tendulkar. But age might just start to be catching up with the Little Master. On Saturday, Jan 15, the 37-year-old contracted a painful hamstring injury which threatened to see him depart the field prematurely, as a retired hurt case.
However, always one for gritty bravado, Sachin stuck it out at a bouncy wicket to try and see out the deadly new ball. In the end, he was perhaps not quite successful in that objective as he was out to off-spinner Johan Botha for a dismal 24 off 44 balls.
Sachin has been ruled out of the remaining three games in the ongoing series and hence will be deprived of some crucial preparation ahead of the World Cup. It was vital he got in as much match practice as possible at this juncture, especially considering he is returning to the one-day format after nearly a year, and that his form, going by his two innings of 7 and 24 in the last week, has not been upto par.
Now with the World Cup commencing in a little over a month's time , doubts and fears are rife over whether Tendulkar will in fact be fit enough to take on the mega-event. His enthusiasm may not be matched by his fitness this time around.
Of course, with the names of the 15-members squad for the World Cup expected to be announced today, Jan 17, Tendulkar is likely to be included in the side. But in the event his gammy hamstring gives away during the tournament, the selectors will want to be extra sure that they have a suitable back-up for the maestro.
Sachin has generally been in his element in previous World Cups, notching up 1,796 runs from 36 matches at a staggering average of 49.88. He hasn't had fitness problems in any of the editions of the mega-tournament top date. But this time around, it just might be different. At any rate, his fans will be hoping he pulls through and shows up on Feb 19 as fresh as a daisy.