One-day loses its ‘One’
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* Sanath Jayasuriya
The mid-90s was an exciting period for ODIs. It was around this time that Sachin Tendulkar, like me, was promoted as a opener. Though, our styles were different we changed the way batting teams approached the start of an inning.
While I attacked the bowlers right from the first ball, Sachin didn't always go on the offense that early. For me it was imperative to go for my shots early because that was the only way I knew how to play.
It worked for me and I stuck to my gameplan. If I had to suddenly defend for a while during a game I was not as effective as I was when attacking.
But to Sachin's credit he had the ability, skill and technique to switch from defence to attack and in both modes he found ways to keep the scoreboard ticking over and put the bowlers under pressure.
I was amazed how he effortlessly controlled the pace of an innings against some of the best attacks in the world. What was exceptional was that he was able to stick to his natural game even though he was always under pressure.
I remember once when we were talking about batting, he told me that I should stick to my natural game and not bother about anything else. I took his advice and continued to play attacking innings.
He never took his skill for granted. He worked hard and innovated to become a street-smart batsmen. There are two of his shots that I always wished I could play as well as him. The first, of course, the straight drive that was played with such confidence and timing that it raced to the boundary even before the bowler completed his follow-through.
The second signature Sachin stroke that I admired was his flick to the square-leg boundary. When he played this flick or the straight drive it was a sign that Sachin was in form.