A slab of granite grabbed much attention during India's nets at the PCA Stadium on Monday afternoon. Pakistan had used the 4 feet x 2 feet slab on Sunday but it assumed special significance a day later.
That's because Sachin Tendulkar was using it. Placing the slab short of good length, he asked a local left-arm bowler to bang the ball on it. Standing on the edge of the crease and with the ball bouncing up to his shoulder and above, he rocked back, practicing the slash towards square third-man and the upper cut over the slips.
Tendulkar then went slightly forward without asking the bowler to alter the length and concentrated on playing square of the wicket on both sides. The difference this time was Tendulkar's decision not to take the aerial route. Pulling and cutting the ball firmly, he kept the ball down with regularity.
The granite slab isn't a regular feature at this venue and was brought over at the behest of the Pakistanis, who wanted to practise against the skidding ball. The practice pitches here are too slow to provide that effect. The visitors probably didn't realise the face they dread most in their rival camp would also use it to perfect his game.
He was not done with it. Tendulkar moved forward again to a point from where the slab was around the good length spot. The bowler stuck to the same length and Tendulkar started punching the ball on the off side from the backfoot.
Opting for a left-arm bowler and dealing with that particular length could have something to do with the presence of Wahab Riyaz in the Pakistani ranks, a left-armer who Tendulkar hasn't faced.
After a break, the batsman headed for another net where coach Gary Kirsten was helping the batsmen. This time, Kirsten was throwing the ball at a much fuller length, and head down, Tendulkar was playing on the front foot.