Chennai is Sachinís zone


Chennai was expected to sleep early on Saturday. That's because Sunday would see alarm clocks around the city come to life at sunrise. For a cricket fan, this isn't a weekend to oversleep. Serpentine queues are likely to tie MA Chidambaram Stadium in knots for the second successive match day. After R Ashwin's 7/103 on Saturday, Sunday's promise is better and brighter.

Anywhere in the cricketing world, when Sachin Tendulkar walks off the field with a 50-plus score at stumps, the next day registers a sharp peak in foot-fall. There is absolutely no doubt that this extraordinary phenomena will be repeated on Day Three of this India-Australia opening Test.

This game has an exciting buzz about it. It's the kind a home supporter loves. India, replying to Australia's 380, finished at 182/3 from 52 overs. Considering Australia were 166/5 after the same number of overs, it was clear that MS Dhoni's team had nosed forward but the home captain wasn't quite a stride ahead of Michael Clarke.

So that happens to be the big picture of the Test, but the bigger picture that Chennai is expected to dream about tonight will be of Tendulkar, unbeaten on 71 at close, reaching the three-figure mark at his favourite ground where he is possibly playing his last Test. Surprisingly, the anticipation of that Tendulkar special had spread really early on Saturday ó in the very first over he faced, bowled by James Pattinson.

Three fours from six balls bowled by a pacer who had clocked 150 kph in his previous over, broken through the defence of the openers and who had got the better of him in their last encounter; was as ideal a start as Tendulkar could have hoped. That much-discussed tentativeness of the England series seemed to have evaporated by either the sight of the Aussie fire power or the rising Chennai temperature.

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