Is it really time for Sachin Tendulkar to put an end to his 23-year-old international cricket journey? This is the million-dollar question doing the rounds in certain parts of the country. But the man himself, as he done over the years, has chosen to remain unfazed by all the hullabaloo. And he is right.
Tendulkar was bowled three times in as many innings in the India-New Zealand Test series, which prompted to utter the "R" word .
It was just unthinkable for any Tendulkar fan to see the Master Blaster fall in this manner to three different bowlers. So, does one assume that his reflexes are on the wane or do you put it down to three bad judgments?
An online poll conducted by ThatsCricket saw more than 50% wanting Tendulkar to continue playing.
Whatever the experts, media might think, it really doesn't disturb Tendulkar.
Just a few days before the Bangalore Test, the Master himself had said he is still enjoying his game and knows when to shut shop at the batting crease.
When queried, India captain MS Dhoni was quick to defend his senior-most batsman in the team.
"The good thing is that whenever people talk about (Sachin) Tendulkar's form, he comes up with a brilliant performance and I'm waiting for that. I don't really get worried about that," this was Dhoni's defence.
Former India batsman turned commentator, Sanjay Manjrekar slammed TV channels for "sensationalising" observations made during commentary by former India captain Sunil Gavaskar on Tendulkar's dismissal.
"Gavaskar makes technical observation on Tendulkar & it's 'Gavaskar slams Tendulkar'...talk of sensationalising matters on new channels," Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) tweeted.
"Shame on news channels using Tv commentary bytes to further their own agendas..get your own experts guys, make your own views !," he added in another tweet.
Gavaskar had said Tendulkar's feet were not moving with age. His comments were enough for TV channels to start debates over Tendulkar's retirement.
Agreed, Tendulkar has not been in the best of form in recent times. He has no Test hundred in his last 25 innings. These statistics could be worrying but with the departure of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, can India afford to let go another batting legend in the five-day format?
India definitely cannot do away with Tendulkar. His 190-Test experience is a guiding force for youngsters. His mere presence in the playing XI lifts the spirits of all players. And his art of batting is an university for any newcomer.
And above all, Tendulkar need not be told when his time is up, as he has mentioned on several occasions, it is he himself who will decide when to leave the scene.
The same experts who are after Tendulkar, don't seem to know who will replace the Mumbai man even if he has to go.
With Suresh Raina already struggling in Indian white shirt, there is uncertainty over the number six spot. Rohit Sharma's One Day International form is a subject of jokes. Ajinkya Rahane has proved at domestic level but Test cricket is a different ball game altogether. Manoj Tiwary and S Badrinath are other candidates. But are they ready? May be not.
The real challenge for Indian youngsters will come when they tour Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England. Will these batsmen's technique save them in alien conditions?
For now, Tendulkar and the rest of his doubters can put an end to this discussion. India's next Test series is at home in November against England. With more than two months left for that, it is time to say relax, Tendulkar, prepare hard for England and be at your best.
It is not new for Tendulkar to be under pressure and this will certainly not be the last of the post-mortem reports on his batting failures.
The only way to shut your critics up, is talking through your bat. And Tendulkar knows how to do that. He is the Master.