Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test: Emotions run high as the maestro keeps his calm in final innings

Even at the twilight of his career Sachin Tendulkar was able to assess the conditions so quickly and then execute his shots accordingly © IANS

By Gaurav Joshi

It was probably the first time in his 200 match career that Sachin Tendulkar looked burdenless at he strode out to wicket for possibly the last time. All the mannerisms were the same, traditional look up at the heaven, the bat tucked under his arm, slight movement of his hip and the modest appreciation of the guard of honour. But then for the first time he touched the Wankhede pitch with his right hand and then touched his heart then asked the umpire for two leg.

He played a slogged sweep to get off the mark. It was an uncharacteristic shot to many but it was indication he was going to bat with freedom and with a clear mind.  From that moment it was evident Tendulkar was going to enjoy his last outing. There was sense of feeling Tendulkar for the first time in his career felt the expectations of runs had taken a back seat and all the people wanted to witness was the Goliath himself.  This mindset allowed Tendulkar to settle into his groove. Rarely was there a nervous poke or pessimism, Tendulkar looked at ease on a pitch that still had plenty to offer.

From a technical perspective even the slog-sweep Tendulkar played to get off the mark was a case of perfection than a risk. Tendulkar had practised the sweep shot thoroughly in the net over the past couple of days, so it was premeditated approach. 

What followed was yet another well thought out and constructed innings. Tendulkar had watched the West Indian batsmen succumb to the bounce by lunging towards deliveries on the front foot, so he ensured he predominantly played off the back foot. He also knew the turn on offer was not quick so he went deep in his crease and accumulated the runs. Even at the twilight of his career he was able to assess the conditions so quickly and then execute his shots accordingly. 

On his 90th birthday Sir Don Bradman had apparently told Tendulkar ‘a time will come when your reflexes will go and your mind will be your greatest strength’. Today once again he proved the mental side of batting just it in the first 20 balls. It was a classic example of a relaxed man but with still a goal to please those who had continuously worshipped him.

Even as the team bus turned onto to the scenic Marine Drive at the conclusion of Day One, Tendulkar sitting in his usual front seat let out a smile and raised his hands at the thousands who had lined up waiting to catch yet another glimpse of him.  It was an unusual act from the champion. Normally the great man listens to music and is emotionless but today he absorbed the moment. The mind was lucid and he was just relishing his childhood dream of playing for beloved India. The dream continued the next day and he gave hope of a ton when he passed 50. However, the dream ended on 74 and he walked into the dressing room. Emotions were running high!
 
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)