Patient Sachin Tendulkar middles it this time


The ball from Monty Panesar was pitched on middle-and-leg. Sachin Tendulkar had gone forward to a ball of similar line in the first innings at the Wankhede, and tried to work it to midwicket. It had spun past his bat and hit his off stump.

But this one was a little slower, and landed on a pitch that didn't provide half as much turn or bounce. Tendulkar waited on it, saw that it hadn't really turned, and played it away to square leg. The Eden Gardens scoreboard congratulated him for reaching 34,000 international runs.

This was the first ball from Panesar that Tendulkar had scored off on Wednesday. It was the 15th ball he had faced from the left-arm spinner. It was also the first time Tendulkar had turned him into the leg side. During both his dismissals in the previous Test, off the same bowler, Tendulkar had looked to play across the line.

In all, Tendulkar was to face 83 balls from Panesar. He took six singles four into the leg side one double, and hit three balls for four a soft-hands edge past slip, a fine glance when he drifted one too far down leg and a gorgeous drive between cover and extra cover. The other 73 were dot balls. The majority of these, Tendulkar simply patted back down the pitch, of front foot or back.

Panesar was metronomic as always, with perhaps a few more variations in pace and trajectory than usual. Tendulkar played him with utmost respect, and was seldom troubled. This wasn't a vicious turner.

But there was plenty happening at the other end. An hour after lunch, Steven Finn bumped one short. Tendulkar moved across his crease and tucked it off his hip to the fine leg boundary. He let the next one go; Eden Gardens let out a collective ooh as it darted in and missed off stump. The next one moved away. Tendulkar let it go again.

... contd.

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