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Unkindest cut: Heckled at home

THE CONTRAST could not have been greater. Like always at the Wankede Stadium, Sachin Tendulkar received a standing ovation and thunderous applause when he went out to bat against England on Sunday.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 13:30 IST

THE CONTRAST could not have been greater. Like always at the Wankede Stadium, Sachin Tendulkar received a standing ovation and thunderous applause when he went out to bat against England on Sunday.

But like never before, 33 minutes later, the same crowd who had chanted 'Saachin, Saachin' since Tendulkar came out to bat, booed him on his return to the pavilion. He had scored a solitary run off 21 balls. He had failed to break his poor run of form -- 279 runs, including an innings of 109, in his past 11 Test innings (including Sunday's).

Spectators in the East Stand and the West Stand were stunned when they saw the local hero taking the long walk back. The ones in the Garware Pavilion booed till Tendulkar disappeared from their sight.

They had done the same after Virender Sehwag was dismissed. But Tendulkar being given the thumbs-down in Mumbai was a first.

Among the stunned was Lalchand Rajput, under whose captaincy Tendulkar made his first-class debut. "It was really sad to see the crowd which has been worshipping Tendulkar for so long, boo him," he said.

Chandrakant Pandit, Tendulkar's one-time teammate, found the crowd's behaviour shocking but said it did not reflect on the state of the batsman's career. "He must've been severely disappointed to see the crowd's reaction," he said.

Dilip Vengsarkar, another Test cricketer, was less forgiving of the crowd's behaviour. "It was sad on the part of the spectators to behave in such a manner with one of the best cricketers ever."

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 13:30 IST