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Sachin, Laxman gatecrash Waugh's farewell party

The duo hammered Aussie bowling in a record triple-century stand.Did we judge Sachin too harshly? Read what others have to say

india Updated: Jan 04, 2004 00:58 IST

 

It was an astonishing day's play. In the context of the series, it was a day like none before; a day when India batted Australia out of the match and are now in a position to even win the Test and the series.

It was also a day when Sachin Tendulkar rediscovered himself as a man who can still bat. And it was a day when VVS Laxman played an innings of great character and lyrical charm. It was an innings replete with strokes manicured to perfection by a man who wields his bat like a magic wand. Had God chosen to be a batsman he would have had to bat the way Laxman did today.

Though the entire focus may have been on Tendulkar and his voyage of self-discovery in an innings spanning nearly ten hours, it was Laxman's virtuoso performance that took one's breath away.

There is no batsman in contemporary cricket whose can match Laxman's delicate touch and who can use the wooden bat like a string and direct the ball to any part of the ground without even appearing to have touched it. Sheer magic and Laxman's innings on Saturday was nothing if not pure magic.

Even Tendulkar, who himself was playing an innings of a lifetime, paid the ultimate tribute to Laxman's skills. "I dare not play the kind of strokes he is playing," he said.

It is very difficult to describe a day's play where a genius makes a successful attempt to redefine himself and where the effort of two batsmen bring the best team in the world down to its knees.

Tendulkar, who can even make a triple hundred on Sunday, showed today that he still has the energy, the stamina and the willpower to astound the world. In the beginning of his innings his feet were not moving well.

 

The man was uncertain whether to go forward or back. Missing was the decisiveness in his footwork that has defined his genius and also missing was that assurance with which he addresses the ball.

That he still went on to bat the whole day and scored an unbeaten double hundred tells the story of a man who does not want to embrace failure without fighting with all the skill and strength at his command.

And once all doubts in his mind got cleared -- that he is still the master of his own destiny -- Tendulkar became the child once again and started enjoying his batting.

The footwork became more decisive and his shot-selection more assured. It was a batting display of heroic dimensions, regardless of what the quality of the wicket may have been and regardless of what the quality of the attack may have been.

And what Laxman and Tendulkar, in their contrasting styles, did on Saturday was to make Australia suffer and suffer in humiliation. The seconds passed into minutes, the minutes into hours and when the hours completed the day, India were still batting.

The Australians can now only hope that they don't lose this Test. And that must be a very disturbing thought. There is every possibility that this Test could get buried in mounds of runs judging by the placid manner in which the wicket behaved today. But if the wicket takes spin -- and it is expected to do that -- India are in with a chance. They are in with the chance of winning the series.

For the Australians, present in thousands at the ground, the sight of Steve Waugh no longer makes them go wild with joy. It was almost with sadness that they reacted each time the ball was hit in his direction.

Around the close of play an announcement was made that "a souvenir on Steve Waugh would be available at the ground". And the reaction of a spectator summed up the mood at the SCG. "This souvenir will always remind us of what Tendulkar and Laxman did to us this day."

Scorecard

First Published: Jan 03, 2004 05:58 IST