India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 1st day November 14, 2013

Tendulkar's exquisite straight drive

N Hunter
Plays of the day for the opening day of the first Test between India and West Indies in Mumbai
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The drop
Mohammad Azharuddin and Rahul Dravid used to field at first slip. Hands that picked some of the best catches. A bowler would trust them completely and likewise, these guys built his confidence. However R Ashwin, who fields at the same position, has never given that same kind of assurance. Today he had already seen a difficult chance, an outside edge from Kieran Powell fall a yard in front of him. But a few overs later when Powell was beaten by the superb seam movement of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashwin spilled a straightforward catch. The ball was going to his left. Ashwin moved quickly but tried to pouch the ball, probably, with hard hands because the ball bounced off his left palm, trickled across his arm before bouncing off his lap onto the ground even as he tried to hold on to it in vain. Ashwin looked to the heavens for assistance. The bowler, too, did the same.

The shot
The ball was pitched on a good length. It was slightly fuller. Sachin Tendulkar's eyes lit up. He opened his stance, quickly moved forward and using his left elbow to lend direction, he punched that exquisite straight drive -past Darren Sammy, past mid-on for another four. It was a shot that comes to mind when you think Tendulkar the batsman. It is shot the roaring Wankhede took home.

The word of caution
Narsingh Deonarine was playing his first ball of the series. He tapped Bhuvneshwar towards mid-on and set off for a single without even realising Pragyan Ojha was standing well inside the circle. If that was not enough, Deonarine, who replaced Veerasammy Permaul, should have at least realised his partner was the as-safe-as-they-come Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The Guyanese, playing his 150th Test match, did not even blink as he turned his back to Deonarine, who had to retreat swiftly. An annoyed Chanderpaul indicated his displeasure by drawing a question mark with his hands.

The plan
The ploy of making the batsmen play as many balls as possible is a rule good fast bowlers never forget. Bhuvneshwar deployed that strategy successfully against all batsmen including Chanderpaul, who was defeated by the bowler's accuracy and persistence. In his third over of his first spell after lunch, Bhuvneshwar bowled four balls to Chanderpaul of similar nature: pitching back of a length, on leg or middle stump and moving away. Chanderpaul left a couple of deliveries alone, but the other two he was tempted to play, only to get squared up. In his next over, Bhuvneshwar improvised by pitching on the leg stump and creating an angle that forced Chanderpaul to play at the ball. The thick edge went to Ashwin, who did well to hold a good catch.

The catch
Deonarine seemed in a hurry as he tried to play most of the balls. Trying to defend a delivery from Ashwin which had pitched on the middle stump and was turning away, Deonarine stretched forward, but could not get to the pitch of the ball. The outside edge flew to the left of M Vijay, at short gully, who dived to pluck a spectacular low catch.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 15, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    For those who say ashwin is not good in slips please remember the other dismissal which is a much tougher than it is thought and he has taken many brilliant catches at slips in champions league.

  • Bokesh on November 15, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    SRT today is reminding me of the original Tendulkar he used to be.Just look at the exquisite straight drives, cover drives, this is how he used to play. Really getting jealous of people how are in govt.jobs( just by stroke of good fortune!!!!) .

  • Prats6 on November 15, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    Ashwin is a bad fielder. Good bowler but bad fielder and to see him in slips does not inspire confidence. Its a way to hide him on the field. Those drops can wreck havoc in a match. India should prepare someone like Pujara - who looks to be someone with a calm mind in the slips, instead we put him in the firing line against the spinners. What a joke.

  • 777aditya on November 15, 2013, 2:25 GMT

    "The bowler, too, did the same." Ashwin's response to why he cant catch - it slips! you cant run, you cant 'hide' - of course not till he is alive anyways!

  • baskar_guha on November 15, 2013, 2:20 GMT

    Would like to see a bold declaration by India with just 100-150 ahead and a West Indies fightback so that India can be made to get 100-150 in the second. Would make for an exciting test. In its current pace, it will be done 2-3 sessions after India declare.

  • dimpu303 on November 15, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Great man has done so far so good in his well compiled 38 except the first run! He swept it almost blind, nervous, could have been LBW or Bowled by that perfect Shillingford delivery..... Now settled after that first jitter, his 52nd ton in test cricket is clearly visible - Dhiren

  • Cpt.Meanster on November 15, 2013, 0:16 GMT

    It is so disheartening to see some foolish comments here putting down Ashwin. In the middle of all this Tendulkar drama, we have so conveniently forgotten Ashwin 100 wickets historical milestone. This is why Indian fans are some of the WORST cricket lovers on the planet. It is time we treat every cricketer with respect and recognize his achievements. WELL DONE ASHWIN !!!

  • dummy4fb on November 14, 2013, 22:23 GMT

    the play of the day must have been when Vijay got out to uproarious applause no!?

  • AnkushDeshmukh on November 14, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    Ashwin in slips is like asking Dhoni to bowl.... he'll get you wickets once in a while but HE IS NOT a bowler!! Ashwin should be kept at third man or fine leg busy with his warm ups and stretching... not trying to be in that ultimate important position of slips....hope Dhoni doesn't try him out at backward point in ODIs someday...!

  • GRVJPR on November 14, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    Whenever ashwin does well with ball people start finding some other mistakes to discredit him. Similarly when kohli scores 100 people start telling lies about his attitude!