Tendulkar: In quest of a batting nirvana
Early morning on Day 3 of the four-Test series: Hospitality tents being readied, Indians in the practice nets behind the Giffen stand with Ramesh, Sehwag and Chopra having a hit.india Updated: Dec 15, 2003 00:16 IST
Early morning on Day 3 of the four-Test series: People trickling in through the turnstiles, hospitality tents being readied, Indians in the practice nets behind the Giffen stand with Ramesh, Sehwag and Chopra having a hit.
Hanging around them: men is shorts and sunglasses, drinking coffee, waiting for mates to arrive; mothers on mobiles, issuing last minute instructions for breakfast at home and schoolkids searching for autographs.
All of a sudden there is a distinct buzz, the mood changes. Everyone crowds round the playing area, pushing to get closer. Sachin Tendulkar has appeared.
He comes with a helmet on (the Indian flag placed prominently in front), carrying two MRF bats, wearing a BAS thigh-pad over his Sahara tracksuit and the usual light-weight Morrant pads with leather straps.
He asks for a leg-stump guard and when the Adidas rubber studs fail to make an impression on the hard surface, pulls out the leg stump to scratch a mark on the popping crease.
Murali Kartik tosses up left-arm spin, coach Reid keeps a good off stump line with his seamers, Harbhajan (injured, unfit and thus unavailable for selection) delivers some kind of medium pace and others, mostly club bowlers, bowl a variety impossible to describe.
But the bowling does not matter - Sachin is playing against himself. Batsmen forever search for rhythm, an inner momentum which automatically gets feet into position and has the ball travelling speedily off the bat.
Strangely, you can have rhythm without runs. Players talk of playing well despite scoring zeroes, at other times they are dissatisfied even after making a 100. Their quest is the batting nirvana, the happy but elusive state where batting is effortless.
At present, Sachin seems far from the auto-pilot mode. In Australia, he has played nine balls to make one run - obviously some part of his cricket supercomputer is malfunctioning.
But form, experts remind us regularly, is temporary, and on Sunday in the nets, Sachin was a craftsman carefully reviewing his methods. Head still and arms close to the body, he worked on foot movement and balance, got into the line and played straight. Still, the fluidity and control was missing.
To judge Sachin or to form any kind of opinion after watching him in a net would be a mistake. To decide whether he is suffering a run drought is impossible to say. All he has had is one bad decision and one bad shot.
Sachin could be in the middle tomorrow, or the day after, proudly waving his bat to acknowledge the cheers of 2 crore Australians and 100 crore Indians.
First Published: Dec 15, 2003 00:16 IST