Little Master's biggest moment
By Atreyo Mukhopadhyay | ENS | Published: 14th November 2013 01:38 AM |
While everything at Wankhede Stadium had something to do with Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday morning, there was a moment when the departing master was not the cynosure.
It was shortly before the Indian team had wrapped up practice and Tendulkar was standing behind the nets watching Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma bat. It was impossible to imagine what he was thinking, but the sight of the guardian of Indian batting inspecting the next generation was symbolic and meaningful.
After the second Test against the West Indies starting on Thursday, there will be no Tendulkar in the Indian dressing room. Nobody will switch on the TV or radio to find out how much he is batting on, debates on whether he is past his prime will stop and for a countless number of fans, cricket will not remain the same.
But the show will go on. Who will take it forward, how prepared they are, whether they are ready in the mind – these are questions doing the rounds and watching Tendulkar behind the nets, one wondered whether he too was thinking on similar lines. Whatever the reason be, he stood there for about 10 minutes.
For the rest of the period a day before his 200th and farewell Test, Tendulkar it was everybody wanted a piece of. The groundsmen handed him flowers and got him to pose for photographs. The BCCI president N Srinivasan, who will honour him just before the start of play, spent some time with him in the middle and after practice, the large media contingent crowded around Tendulkar for one for their albums. The attention of all eyes did his customary stints. The 40-year-old batted against pace and spin and returned to take throw-downs, as he has been in the last few years. In short bursts, he looked focussed on making contact with the ball rather than dealing harshly with it. He seemed to be enjoying the game of taming the ball.
Out of nowhere, MS Dhoni spoke of Tendulkar taking wickets. “Since this is his last Test match, I would like him to enjoy it to the fullest and maybe get a few wickets. That will be fun as one expects some turn and bounce from the wicket,” Dhoni said. Tendulkar’s 46th and last Test wicket came in the previous Test.
Otherwise, the skipper sounded keen to keep things normal. “No point talking about the distractions as it is part and parcel of this game. It will be one of the greatest matches in cricketing history, we need to keep it as normal as possible. For us, enjoying the moment is the key,” Dhoni said.
With all eyes on the “moment”, it almost went unnoticed that the West Indians too came for practice in the afternoon. Probably the only team in history to be ignored ahead of a Test match because of the occasion, they too seemed taken over by the enormity of the moment.
They can’t be blamed for that. This Test is so different from the 2101 played earlier. The greatest of cricketers have retired, with and without fanfare, but this is the last stop for someone head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to grabbing eyeballs. When that happens, irrespective of the subject being behind or in front of the stumps, gazes become fixed.