iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Chennai, February 23, 2013
India had just lost the wicket of one of their most entertaining batsmen, Virender Sehwag, and were down to 12 for two. But no one seemed to care at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Everyone was on their feet to welcome India's No 4 batsman.

Call it the Indians' penchant for hero worship; but that is how it is with Sachin Tendulkar in Chennai.


The excitement the ageing warrior creates at this ground is understandable.

In both the matches he played in Chennai against Australia, he got match-winning hundreds - 155 not out in 1998 and 126 in 2001. He averages 87.60 in nine Tests in Chennai.

The 39-year-old didn't disappoint his legion of fans, playing a masterly hand of 71 not out to pull India out of the woods on the second day of the first Test on Saturday.

With Tendulkar looking good to break his century drought, all roads in the city on Sunday are expected to lead to the stadium.

The game is interestingly poised. And there is also the prospect of  the rising star, Virat Kohli, building on the fine innings he has played so far.


Pace Power
Providing the main challenge for the hosts was fast bowler James Pattinson. The Melbourne-boy bowled all the three Indian batsmen in a short six-over effort. Consistently hitting speeds of 150kph, the 22-year-old showed a bowler can be effective in any condition if he has pace and the right plan.

However, there was one thing Pattinson would have liked to do differently, and that is how he bowled to Tendulkar first-up.

Carried away by his success against Sehwag and Murali Vijay - both played on fuller length deliveries - he tried the same plan, but it backfired for Tendulkar dispatched three of his first four balls to the fence.

For the experts, it was the gamechanging moment of the day. The pressure was on Tendulkar after poor home series against England and New Zealand. Pattinson returned for his second spell and bowled Pujara with an off-cutter.

The setback affected India's scoring momentum as Tendulkar settled down to regulation pace. But Kohli was rarely tested, raising questions about how Clarke used Pattinson. The Chennai fans were not complaining though.