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Chasing elusive hundred, getting back to basics

cricket Updated: Mar 16, 2012 17:08 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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The longest Sachin Tendulkar had to wait between two centuries was a gap of 34 innings, back in 2007. He has now played 33 without one - the one the world is looking forward to as much as the player himself.

The wait, just over a year now, is killing for the fans. And no one exactly knows what's going on in the master batsman's mind.

Whatever it was, Tendulkar, standing on threshold of hitting a landmark no statistician imagined would be achievable and hence never kept a header for it, is not letting it go without a fight.

And like most cricketers say during press conferences "we can only do whatever is in our control", Tendulkar was doing just that --- train harder and harder at the nets.

Honing skills
Few could remember when Tendulkar last turned up for an optional training session where he had just two for company. On Wednesday, it was just Yusuf Pathan and Rahul Sharma along with the coaching staff - Duncan Fletcher, fielding coach Trevor Penny and new bowling coach Joe Dawes, for whom it was the first feel of the nets in India colours.

Three years back, just before he began to pick and choose one-dayers, he had turned up for a similar training session during a bilateral series in Colombo. The reason was far more insignificant than what it is today. He had got out leg-before to deliveries that had come in late, and to rectify that, he had decided to train in severe heat in the presence of then coach Gary Kirsten, bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh along with a host of net bowlers.

Totally relaxed
Video analyst Dhananjay was the common factor on both occasions. The other thing in common was Tendulkar's mood. He appeared very relaxed and jovial. After his batting and a ritualistic discussion with Fletcher, he bowled to Sharma, mixing leg-spinners with quicker ones, foxing him every time and pulling his leg.

The fight now is more of a battle within. Tendulkar has always handled the pressure of a billion plus over the last two decades but this phase, with every passing day, is becoming something even he is alien to. There are voices calling for his retirement from one-dayers. There is now a "rotational policy" for the two opening slots. And the desperation is slowly creeping in, just as the country is growing restless.

He has three more matches here - provided India make it to the final - failing which it would be shelved till the Sri Lanka series post the Indian Premier League. Friday provides him with the best opportunity. Bangladesh obviously has the weakest attack and the Sher-e Bangla Stadium wicket which is full of runs. He knows that and surely is very disappointed, having missed out on Tuesday when both Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli got their 10th one-day hundreds.

Longest run without a ton | Fantastic four