Watching Sachin Tendulkar bat in full flow is an experience. Whether he's running between the wickets, dancing down the trackto a spinner, or rocking back to play a tickle to third-man or playing his trademark straight drive against a paceman, you just can't take your eyes off him when he is at the crease.
Wednesday was one such occasion when the master was indeed in the zone. And at the end of the day, not only had he crossed his 48th Test century, fourth at the Sinhalese Sports Club, but most importantly, he had taken India towards safety in the match.
"Everyday we listen to him in the dressing room and that is equal to learning for us," Virender Sehwag, who missed out on his 21st Test century by a run, said on Wednesday. "Today also there is as much hunger in him as there is in a youngster. Look at Suresh Raina batting and Tendulkar, and you can't tell which one is making his debut. The big plus point about Sachin is that whenever he gets down to play it is as if he is playing his first game."
Debutant off-spinner Suraj Randiv, who dismissed Sehwag, admitted that Tendulkar did not let him settle. "It's very difficult to get a good line and length to him. He comes forward, he goes back," said Randiv said. "I bowled well to him. He went for some cut shots and it was very difficult to get the line and length to him."
But Randiv was obviously ecstatic with Sehwag's dismissal, which triggered a mini-collapse. "He was on 99 at that time. I thought he might go for a big shot. Then I thought to bowl a doosra. I bowled the doosra and it helped me to get his wicket. When you get a player of his calibre, it's a big thing," Randiv said. "I just came into bowl. I thought he will do something different. Our bowlers hadn't given him any easy runs at that stage. So I just thought I will try something different, but didn't think he will go for a big shot. But he went and was dismissed."
Though Sehwag said he "knew it was a doosra", he was disappointed for having been dismissed early on in the innings. "I am disappointed. Not because I was out on 99 but because today's day could have been very good for us if we were one or two down."