Tendulkar disappointed despite double
Sachin Tendulkar wasn't in his usual cheerful press conference mood, his slightly sombre interaction standing out on a day when he joined Virender Sehwag as the Indian with most double-centuries.
When the day began, Tendulkar was a stroll away from his sixth double, and many hoped for what would have been a maiden triple. Missing out on that elusive landmark, though, was not playing on his mind. "As far as scoring runs is concerned, you try to score as many as you can," he said. "Sometimes you manage them, sometimes you don't. The effort is in my hands, not the result. I have always tried my best to contribute. It is about what I want to do for my team. And I will not compromise on that."
Perhaps his mood had to do with the way the rest of the batting collapsed, not slamming the door on the Australians. The four wickets after him added just nine runs against pretty unspectacular bowling. As a result, India can't be assured of the series win after nine days of gruelling Test cricket during which they have won most of the crucial moments.
"Disappointed to lose five wickets in the span of 45 to 50 runs in the morning but such is the game," Tendulkar said. "I think we have come back very well. Bowlers did a fantastic job. It's going to be a big day for us tomorrow. The Test match is at a critical stage. It's all about how we deal with pressure and apply ourselves."
A special moment during his double-century didn't have much to do with Tendulkar. It was when M Vijay reached his maiden century. Tendulkar looked the happier of the two as he hugged the youngster and had a long chat with him. It was reminiscent of his reaction when Suresh Raina reached his first hundred alongside him against Sri Lanka in July. Being with them reminds Tendulkar of the time he scored his first century. It is a feeling not many know, and Tendulkar of course has gone on to score 48 more. There cannot be a better person to share that feeling with if you are a young upcoming batsman.
"Scoring the first hundred is always special and I am sure the players will never forget that moment," Tendulkar said. "However many more hundreds you score after that, but the first hundred is always special. All these guys have been really working hard, it is wonderful to see the guys working hard in the nets and applying themselves in the big games, and also becoming successful. It is wonderful to our cricket and they deserve it."
Along the way, 11 of those 49 hundreds have come against a side that has dominated world cricket for most of Tendulkar's playing days. "I just got to know that I have got 11 hundreds against Australia," Tendulkar said. "I don't believe in counting. It feels nice. To score runs against a top side is obviously satisfying and it has been a great challenge playing against them."
Tendulkar's focus, though, remains on the final day's play of another Test that has swung this way and that, and neither team holds clear ascendency going into the finale. "We know that if our opposition has scored 470 and it is there on the board, you have to chase it to stay in the game and then at one stage also on the top of the game," Tendulkar said. "These challenges are something we all look forward to, we don't want to take anything for granted. It's going to be exciting and that's what I can say. It's going to be a wonderful day."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo