No fairy­tale cen­tury, but Sachin makes classy exit

Drives, pad­dle-sweeps, del­i­cate touch... mae­stro en­ter­tains loyal fans

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

FIRST, there was stunned si­lence.

Then, as the crowd re­alised it was the end of Sachin Ten­dulkar’s likely last in­nings for In­dia, they rose and ap­plauded and the roar only got louder as their hero briskly walked closer to his grand­stand exit.

Ten­dulkar was dis­missed for 74 by the West Indies yes­ter­day, spoil­ing the wishes of the full house in the Wankhede Sta­dium and mil­lions more TV view­ers who had be­gun to an­tic­i­pate a fairy­tale cen­tury in his in­ter­na­tional swan­song.

But as he shaped to cut part­time off- spin­ner Nars­ingh Deonar­ine, he only edged the de­liv­ery to lone slip Dar­ren Sammy. West Indies’ cel­e­bra­tions were muted, as Ten­dulkar im­me­di­ately turned and headed to the club­house, tuck­ing his bat un­der his arm with grim dis­ap­point­ment etched on his face.

Not un­til he was al­most to the bound­ary did he take off his hel­met, wipe his brow, and raise his bat to ac­knowl­edge the crescendo of cheers, and let the fans’ ado­ra­tion wash over him.

“He has crossed bound­aries, meant some­thing to ev­ery­one, which is why you see such out­pour­ing of emo­tion,” for­mer In­dia cap­tain Rahul Dravid said while com­men­tat­ing on tele­vi­sion. “He has touched the lives of so many peo­ple over the years.”

Ten­dulkar smashed 12 fours and faced 118 balls, play­ing both spin and pace with stylish ease and ex­e­cut­ing shots he has be­come fa­mous for – the straight drive, cover drive and the pad­dle-sweep.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing to see him get out but he played some in­cred­i­ble drives,” said In­dia all-rounder Yu­vraj Singh, guest com­men­tat­ing on TV. “When he walked in, how ev­ery­one cheered for him, well that was just amaz­ing to see – the love of peo­ple for him.”

There’s a chance he could bat again, but that de­pends on the course of the sec­ond Test over the next three days.

The re­mark­able clam­our for 40- year- old Ten­dulkar be­gan be­fore the sec­ond day’s play as he knocked the ball around in prac­tice and spoke to Aus­tralia spin great Shane Warne, who is do­ing TV com­men­tary.

Peo­ple were still pour­ing into the stands when the great­est bats­man of this gen­er­a­tion, the holder of all the mean­ing­ful in­ter­na­tional bat­ting records, walked on to the field of his home-town sta­dium to another rous­ing re­cep­tion.

Ten­dulkar then re­sumed on 38 af­ter an evening cameo on day one. The Lit­tle Mas­ter did not dis­ap­point a crowd in­clud­ing his wheel­chair- bound mother Ra­jni, watch­ing him live for the first time in his 200th and last Test, as he played a clas­sic in­nings to im­mense ap­plause and chants of “Sachin, Sachin”.

The 40-year-old Ten­dulkar smashed con­sec­u­tive bound­aries off off- spin­ner Shane Shilling­ford to set the tone for the day – cut­ting a short ball through point and ex­e­cut­ing a vin­tage pad­dle-sweep. On 47 he sur­vived a big ap­peal for caught be­hind. Not long later, he hit an off-drive to the bound­ary to raise yet another half­cen­tury, the 68th of his ca­reer and first since Fe­bru­ary.

The cen­tury wasn’t to be, but he’s al­ready given In­dia a record 100 of those on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

Mean­while, Za­heer Khan, Viren­der Se­hwag and Harb­ha­jan Singh find them­selves out of a cen­tral con­tract for the 2013-14 sea­son, while Gau­tam Gamb­hir and Yu­vraj Singh find them­selves down­graded in the BCCI’s re­tainer list, re­leased on Thurs­day.

Suresh Raina is the sur­prise in­clu­sion among the five play­ers in the high­est grade; the oth­ers are cap­tain MS Dhoni, Sachin Ten­dulkar, R Ash­win and Vi­rat Kohli.

The list also fea­tures five who were not re­warded with a con­tract last year. They are Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar (Grade B), Mo­hammed Shami, Am­bati Rayudu, Jay­dev Unad­kat and Mo­hit Sharma (all in Group C).

While Za­heer and Se­hwag fea­tured in Grade A last year, Harb­ha­jan was in­cluded in Grade B. ESPNcricinfo un­der­stands that they were axed be­cause none of them is as­sured of a place in the team in any of the three for­mats. Their ex­clu­sion need not, how­ever, be the end of their ca­reers, be­cause BCCI rules say that any non-con­tracted player who fea­tures in any in­ter­na­tional match dur­ing the con­tract pe­riod is awarded a Grade C con­tract for the rest of the ten­ure.

Ravin­dra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan and M Vi­jay have been up­graded from Grade C to B for their “ex­cep­tional” per­for­mance in the last con­tract cy­cle, while Ra­hane’s de­mo­tion on the re­verse route was due to the fact that he has failed to make most of his lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties. – Sapa-AP,


FI­NAL FLOUR­ISH: Su­per­star Sachin Ten­dulkar scored 74 in his fi­nal in­nings for In­dia against the West Indies in Mum­bai yes­ter­day.

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