Monday, January 7, 2013

When Sachin's batting is more important than a wedding ceremony

Yesterday, hundreds of them turned up at the Wankhede Stadium to see the ODI-retired batting great and Tendulkar did not disappoint them through his hundred against Baroda in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final.

Tendulkar, who scored 108 (10x4 and a six), brought up his 18th Ranji Trophy ton with a nudge to long on. He is now two short of Sunil Gavaskar’s 20 Ranji tons, and just one short of Gavaskar’s record of 81 first-class hundreds.

Some spectators at the Vijay Merchant Stand revealed to MiD DAY that they cancelled plans of a Sunday siesta at home when they heard Tendulkar was batting.

As expected, Sachin Tendulkar was cheered on loudly when he walked in to bat at the fall of Hiken Shah’s wicket. His every move was keenly followed as if there was no tomorrow. The crowd drew great pleasure from Tendulkar’s explicit straight and cover drives, and back foot punches. The straight drives stood out.

Tendulkar could well have dominated the Baroda attack, but he preferred to play intently. He consciously stayed away from playing across the line most of the time. He tried to play as straight as possible with most of his runs being scored in the mid-off and mid-on region.

When Tendulkar played a rare uppish shot on the off side, a fan spontaneously remarked: “Sachin paaji neeche se khelo. Sirf aapki batting dekhne aaye hai.” (Please play along the ground… we have only come to see you bat). A loud appeal for leg-before was turned down which prompted a fan to say: “Mehnat karo, mehnat. Sachin ko out karna aasan nahi hai.” (Work hard. It isn’t easy to get Tendulkar’s wicket).

Forget the wedding
A few spectators were dressed in sarees and sherwanis. They slipped off from a wedding ceremony taking place at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s banquet hall to catch a glimpse of Tendulkar’s batting.

The news of Tendulkar playing well spread like fire as seats filled up at a decent pace.

Restlessness slowly started to creep in among fans as Tendulkar decided to deal in singles in between. Chants of ‘Sachin, Sachin’ grew louder, urging the batting maestro to go for big shots. A fan shouted: “Chagdi maar Sachin.” (C’mon, hit a six).

He finally went for one straight down the ground off Ketul Patel much to the delight of the patient fans.

Tendulkar was however, embarrassed when a spectator charged on to the field to touch his feet after scoring his hundred. A big inswinging delivery from Murtuja Vahora that sneaked through Tendulkar’s bat and pad to send the leg stump cartwheeling crushed all hopes of what was becoming a memorable Sunday.

Tendulkar may have disappointed millions of his fans by retiring from one-day cricket, but the spectators that turned up yesterday gave him a standing ovation just like they would do at his farewell ODI.