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The Return Of The Destroyer

, (Wisden's Caption for Sachin's picture)

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> The Return Of The Destroyer, (Wisden's Caption for Sachin's picture)
post Feb 14 2006, 08:01 AM
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One can pull out the thesaurus and combine different adjectives to describe Sachin Tendulkar's 95 at the Gaddafi Stadium at Lahore, but nothing may convey the influence it had on the course of the run-chase. A buoyant Rahul Dravid, speaking at the post-match press conference, described Tendulkar's effort as "absolutely incredible" and went on to add that it was "one of his best innings". "I think he assessed the situation beautifully," he said. "He realised there was something happening with the ball, realised we needed to keep wickets. The way he controlled the game, played positively without doing anything risky, was great to watch. He scored at a great pace on a difficult wicket in difficult conditions. I thought it was one of his best. There are so many he has played but this was really a special one."

Rahul Dravid later referred to it as a Tendulkar special, and he's seen a fair few in a decade of batting alongside him in international cricket. As good as Tendulkar had been at Peshawar, it had been the innings of an individual working his way back into form, rather than that of a man determined to stamp his authority on proceedings. In front of a packed house at the Gaddafi Stadium, he rolled back the years with a wondrous effort that merged the virtues of experience, grit and panache in equal measure.

Mohammad Asif's first spell, in helpful conditions, was as good as any you could hope to see, and you had to peer extra hard to make sure that it was batsmen of the quality of Tendulkar and Dravid that were managing to survive by the width of an outside edge. Asif was spot on with his line and length, and yet Tendulkar's judgement, especially in choosing which deliveries to leave, was so precise that it evoked as much awe as the sublime cover-drive that he later played off Umar Gul.

At 14 for 2, there was no margin for error and it would be a gross distortion of the truth to suggest that either Dravid or Tendulkar was in complete control during their 72-run association. Their defiance, interspersed with some gorgeous drives from Tendulkar, spanned 99 balls, and set the stage for those that followed. Had Yuvraj Singh or Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked out to face a ball that was seaming around prodigiously, the match may well have taken a different direction. But by seeing the shine off the white ball, not to mention the considerable threat posed by Asif, Tendulkar and Dravid smoothed the path to victory.

There has been much innuendo about Tendulkar's batsmanship in recent times, with many suggesting that the destroyer of old had given way to a nudger and accumulator. After the initial circumspection however, Tendulkar took out both bludgeon and rapier, driving, pulling and cutting with immense power in an enthralling 105-run partnership with Yuvraj. After Dravid's departure, Yuvraj's silken shotmaking helped him to play at a pace that suited him, and the cascade of boundaries that followed was all the more impressive for the fact that he was clearly struggling with cramps.

This, though, was to be the batsmen's day out, and how fitting for India that it was the oldest pro - perhaps second only to Vivian Richards in the ODI batting pantheon - that led the way.

Endulkar? More like the end of such trash talk.

If you stop trying to make sense of it all, you'll be less confused. Reality is an illusion.
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post Feb 14 2006, 08:41 AM
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Mr Unni

Thanks for the article. For me it is not even the "return," Sachin's class is permanent and its another slap for those who were writing the legend off.

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