Everyone was waiting to check his response. For the first time, Sachin Tendulkar was returning home from a tour amidst calls for retirement. Try as much as he could, Tendulkar was not able to wriggle out of the bad patch in Australia.
Sachin Tendulkar reacts after scoring his hundred century during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between India and Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka. AFP/Munir uz Zaman
But, when within 24 hours of his arrival,
Tendulkar headed for the nets at the Mumbai Cricket Association's facility, the Mumbai cricket fraternity knew the Master was not giving up yet.
“He accepted the team had been beaten fair and square in Australia. 'We didn't perform, fair enough,' he said. But, his confidence was amazing. He was not affected by the criticism because he said he knew he was batting well. 'I am in good touch, but somehow just not able to get out of the bad patch. That's the key. It's not that I'm playing back to a ball pitched up or playing the wrong line', he said. From his mood we could sense he was ready for the challenge," said former India player Sameer Dighe, one of his close mates.
“He was confident he could compete with anybody,” added Dighe.
Chief coach of the MCA Academy, Pradeep Sundaram, said the look in Tendulkar's eye reflected the determination of a man who had a point to prove.
"There was something in his eyes, like a man looking for a lost coin. They were full of determination. From his training, it was like he wanted to put behind the setback in Australia. When he said he would be coming for nets at 2.15 pm, he would be there sharp. For us, it said that he wanted to prove a point to the critics, 'I am not through yet'," observed Sundaram.
For Dighe, in Tendulkar's muted celebration of the landmark hundred, there was a clear message that he wants to bat on even in the ODIs.