Bet Virat Kohli never felt so unwanted in his backyard, the Ferozeshah Kotla, which nursed his sterling but agony-filled debut season in 2006 during which his dad passed away. In fact, the giant screen on Saturday had anointed him the 'King of Kotla'.
But when he was given out,
the crowd erupted in joy. Kohli, new to the No 3 slot in Tests, must have wobbled on his way back in shock of the crowd's apparent cynicism, till Sachin emerged. The 12,000-strong crowd was now chanting the maestro's name till he had reached the wicket. Phone cameras came out and tried to freeze him even from the distance.
The beginning was shaky and the crowd cried 'Aaram se'. He squirted a shot to point for no run and the response was deafening. It got even louder when he worked his first run to the leg-side. A local league cricketer summed it, "His one run is equal to Virat's 100."
A while later, Murali Vijay perhaps misinterpreted the applause. He raised the bat after a single that got him his fifty. In the stands, the real story behind the clapping emerged. Sachin had come on strike.
Ready to pounce
Sachin's stay was uncomfortable initially. The Aussies appealed a couple of times and as Nathan Lyon went down on his knees once, people almost threatened the spinner, 'Abey Oye, Oye'.
But the momentum died soon after as the sluggish Kotla pitch, which though is producing an evenly fought Test, curbed his stroke-play and his knock. He was greeted out with a standing ovation and incessant clapping.
There being no home series for quite some time after this, and the fact that political bigwigs, BCCI bosses and even his family members, are attending or are expected to attend this Test is leading to speculation that this could be his last Test at home.
If it is, Saturday showed why it shouldn't.
When Arjuna Ranatunga recently said that cricket would be hit by Sachin's departure, he had a point.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.