Birmingham, Aug 14: When India embarked on the current Test series in England, backing the prolific batting genius Sachin Tendulkar to reach his100th international ton was on top of Team India's agenda. Instead, in the three Tests so far, Sachin's poor string of performances have outright belied his world-class stature. What else can one say of a man who has coughed up knocks of 34, 12, 56, 1 and 40?
At the start of the tour, the Little Master had said that his mind would not be affected by the overwhelming anticipation of reaching his impending feat, but rather that he just aimed to enjoy himself at the crease. The latter might very well have been true as one got the sense, Sachin was trying to play a reckless game oozing with over-confidence. The concentration and responsibility towards aiding his team's cause were secondary.
After all, he was out on several of his 6 innings thus far, playing loose drives outside the off-stump, virtually oblivious to the bounce and swing that his nemeses were dishing out on a regular basis. But now with the weight of competing for a drawn series off the table, one wonders what Tendulkar will bring to it. Will we see a more circumspect start to his innings, tempering the desire for extravagant shots for the patience of adapting to the wicket first?
Pacing his knock is key to success at the crease, but so is a mindset imbued in controlled aggression. What has made Sachin such a hero of the game is his ability to deftly vascilate between those two strategies. Now he has reached a moment of reckoning in the series, whereby he should revert to playing his champion's game. Balance between front and back foot is paramount to countering whatever the pacers may throw at him.
His trademark back-foot punches, piercing cover drives, smooth straight-drives, innovative paddle sweeps and flicks to mid-wicket and over is the composition of this batting talent. The tunnel-vision which has hampered his roving eye for picking shots around the ground has to be shunned an fthe full gamut of his strokeplay employed.
However, behind every great batsman, stand his team. And Team India had best buckle done to complementing if not just supporting Sachin. The Mastr Blaster once said that all the runs he makes are for his team. Now is their turn to give back... and see Sachinn through to his century off centuries. What better consoltaion can the disheartended Indian fan look forward to.