'Tendulkar most enchanting of all'
Showering encomiums on Sachin Tendulkar for his back-to-back match-winning knocks against Australia in the ODI tri-series' finals, noted cricket writer Peter Roebuck said the little master counts among the most "enchanting and compelling" players the game has seen.
"Over the past 15 years, cricket enthusiasts have enjoyed many delights but two stand out. Anyone able to follow the careers of Tendulkar and Shane Warne at close quarters has been privileged," Roebuck wrote in his column for 'The Sydney Morning Herald'.
"Both were craftsmen of high calibre but also artists of supreme talent. Warne was a mesmerising tweaker with a fiercely competitive streak. The Indian remains a classical batsman unburdened with ego and capable of exquisite stroke-play," he added.
Roebuck was also all praise for the Indian young brigade for putting up a fearless challenge to Ricky Ponting's men in both the Test series and the one-day tri-series.
"India defended their score with spirit and left the country with heads held high. Throughout a contentious trip these tourists played with tenacity and audacity. It has been a colossal struggle between an ageing champion and a bold challenger," he said.
The former county player said the second final in Brisbane that turned out to be a cliffhanger was a fitting finale to the ill-tempered series and singled out Tendulkar's 91-run knock as the best memory that one could take home from the game.
"A match jam-packed with desperate action has brought a pulsating summer to an appropriately dramatic conclusion," he said.
"Apart from the frenzied finish and the curious outbreak of tackles on the field, the abiding memory of the match came from Tendulkar's bat. The first final, in Sydney, had produced one of the game's finest chasing innings.
"Alas, the hullabaloo distracted attention from Tendulkar's hundred. Accordingly, reporters hoped for a second helping from the maestro. Happily he obliged with a superb effort in the second final," he added.
Roebuck said Tendulkar did well to allow his bat do talking when it came to responding to critics who questioned his track record in Australia.
"It is not so long ago that observers wondered whether the time had come for the veteran to slip down the order. He had been losing his wicket to the new ball and seemed to have lost his edge.
"Recently, another critic pointed out that Tendulkar had never scored a one-day hundred in Australia and had a relatively poor record chasing targets. Never awaken the sleeping tiger," he said.