Sachin Tendulkar: The on-side trap


Monty Panesar had probably never sprinted so fast on a cricket ground till the moment he castled Sachin Tendulkar in the first innings of the second Test at the Wankhede stadium. So frenzied was Panesar's celebration that his high-fives missed his teammates' palms by as big a margin as Tendulkar's failed attempt to work him into the leg side.

When the left-arm spinner trapped Tendulkar LBW in the second innings, his reactions were more muted. Tendulkar had closed his bat face again, not as much as in the first innings, but he had still been looking to play towards mid on rather than down the ground.

Right through Tendulkar's career, the one sight that has defined him has been the full face of his bat pointing proudly down the ground. Power, MRF, Adidas. No one has had to strain their eyes to read the sponsor's name.

But his game has evolved around his often injury-prone body. Having missed a lot of cricket with a tennis elbow injury in 2004-05, he returned with a slightly lighter bat and a shorter backlift. This didn't stop him from playing the straight drive entirely, but he brought it out a little less often. Instead, he would wait a split second longer and tuck the ball into gaps on the leg side.

This probably became the definitive Tendulkar 2.0 shot, especially in the subcontinent, where bowlers would aim straighter and the ball would come slower off the wicket and with less deviation, allowing him to flick and glance all day.

But since his return to Test cricket after missing the West Indies tour last year, this shot has brought about his downfall a little more often than he would like. In that time, Tendulkar has batted in 28 innings. In exactly half of those innings, he has been out bowled or LBW. That 50 per cent figure is well above his LBW-plus-bowled percentage of 38.13 till the 2010-11 South Africa tour.

... contd.

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