India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day November 15, 2013

Tendulkar's knock a learning experience - Pujara

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In Sachin Tendulkar's last Test, Cheteshwar Pujara scored a fluent 113, Rohit Sharma scored an unbeaten 111 - 66 of those in an 80-run last-wicket partnership - but the biggest story of the match has been Tendulkar's 74. Not only that, but it was also the best innings of the lot, according to Pujara, because it was the center of such frenzied attention and answer to so many expectations. Add to it, the emotion itself of being near the end of what you have loved and done all your adult life.

"I would say Sachin's innings was the best because he was playing his last game and it is not easy to focus and concentrate," Pujara said. "There is a lot of nervousness, and the way crowd was supporting - it was good on the crowd's part - but when you are in the middle it is difficult to concentrate so I would rate Sachin's innings as the best.

"It is not easy to stay calm when you are playing your last game. I think there was a lot of expectation from him since he was playing in Mumbai and it was his last Test match. But the way he batted it is incredible and only he can do it I guess."

Pujara was the fortunate one to have batted with Tendulkar throughout what seems like Tendulkar's last innings in Test cricket. "It was a very good partnership," he said. "Initially it was very difficult for me to concentrate because there was a lot of noise from the crowd, and I was just coming, and I didn't face any balls. He faced the first ball before me because [M] Vijay got out. He told me to just stay focussed. Once I played a few balls it was easy for me to bat then."

When the partnership did end, it left Pujara asking for more, but not dejected. "It was disappointing but the way he batted I think it was really amazing to see him score those runs," Pujara said. "I always feel that he is always determined to score, and he might be as determined as he might have been in his first game and there are many things to learn from Sachin."

Tendulkar's final intangible stamp on the Indian batting might have come in his last nets session. Over to Pujara for more. "Actually, the conversation was that I was not playing well in the nets to the balls going through me," he said. "I was struggling against the outswingers in the nets a bit so he told me that my right shoulder is opening up a bit, and I should be a bit side on. He also told me to have a little bigger stride, and I tried doing it once I finished my nets and it helped. But I think initially, as I said earlier, it was difficult to concentrate and keep all these things in mind so I tried working it out in the nets and I think it helped me a bit."

There was praise for fellow-centurion Rohit too. "I felt that the way VVS Laxman used to bat with the tail, he has done the same thing," Pujara said. "It was not easy to score runs. He was batting on 50 or 60 [44] when we were eight down, and from there onwards to score a hundred it is a big achievement. And he has started off well, even in the first Test match so he is in good form. He has done well in the ODI format also, so I think he is doing really well."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh28 on November 20, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    I know there are a few Sachin haters, but I will not be surprised if the little master is KNIGHTED. He has done enough to me amongst the best in the world. Sports players around the world can only draw inspiration from someone who went on for 24 long years in his discipline.

  • takala on November 18, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    My only regret: I did not watch Sachin enough in the last 24 years. I did not ever think I would now feel so much loss

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2013, 15:29 GMT

    To Joshua Matthews: agree that Pujara, Kohli and Sharma are good replacements, but the jury is out on Dhawan and sorry, Vijay is cannon fodder for any good bowler. Don't be fooled into judging an Indian batsman by performances in India against a #8 ranked team.

  • PeterJerome on November 16, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Should our pacers yield some teeth, this Indian team is already looking like world beaters for quite some time to come. They have proven this in the ODI format already. lets wait and watch the tests. I hope MSD can stand up to the demands of test cricket this season around. When it comes to tests overseas, dare i say he has looked a weak link in the team so far. Lets c what experience has taught him. Interesting season ahead for the Indian team. All the best guys.

  • pull_shot on November 16, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    @bigdhonifan i think pitch count will increase if u add odi's

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    Sachin played a very good innings today and it would have been fantastic if had been able to sign off with a century. Sachin will be remembered for ages not just because he was one of the greatest batsman but more for being a great human being that he has been over the last 24 years.

    Rohit was fantastic and due credit to Shami.

    It is not fair to compare batsman of different eras, but India has been very lucky it has found apt five replacement for the four greats who retired during the last few years and the two out off form openers . Vijay for Shewag at no.1, Shikar for Ganguly/Gambir at no. 2, Pujara for Dravid at no.3, Kohli for Sachin at no 4, Rohit for VVS at Six.

    Gambir/Shewag/Raina/Yuvaraj or one of the youngster like Samson could fill up 5 or Rohit to move up to 5 with Dhoni at 6, Jadeja at 7 and four front line bowlers.

    It is hard to believe that only Dhoni has played more than 20 tests. Surely India with this very young team has got a very bright future

    Joshua Mathew

  • Alexk400 on November 15, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    Every one have form days. Rohit seems like batting in cloud 9. He was always good in india but i do not think he can play well overseas unless he get physically stronger. Where there is a will , there is a way. He can seal one spot.

  • Cpt.Meanster on November 15, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    India is the ONLY country which seamlessly transitions without any issues. We now have a new FAB 4 in the making with Pujara, Kohli, Rohit and possibly Rahane. How many countries can boast of this ?? NONE. SA will decline once Kallis, Smith, Amla, and De Villiers exit. Australia have already declines. England will feel the heat once KP. Bell, Trott retire. The rest of the world, well the little I say the better. So India in very capable hands. Very proud to be an Indian supporter at this stage of the Little Master's imminent retirement. Now all that is left is for these guys to go overseas and smash em pretenders. Good luck boys and God bless Indian Cricket.

  • BigINDFan on November 15, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Great farewell for SRT truly well deserved! As usual he played a classy knock and did not let expectations and emotions in the way. Hope SRT plays a role in coaching since the young generation need that. Kumble should mentor spinners as we lack in that area right now even though Ashwin and Ojha are doing well. So relieved to see Rohit realizing his potential and hope he remains consistent. Pujara is a great find for No. 3. I agree with @kluvsindia that the Ind team is playing like one family enjoying and tasting success. Keep it on Team India!

    Don't compare Rohit with VVS or Pujara with Dravid please Ind fans. They may be filling those roles but these are different batsmen and time will tell if Pujara and Rohit are as consistent.

    Gambhir has a chance to get back to the team but not Sehwag. It is not the politics but it is his form that is the issue.

  • ghostcall on November 15, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    @kluvsindia : ur observation and comments regarding team bonding is great. But u shud nt hv brought up Sehwag n Gambhir names.. Sehwag is a legend n the reason for many of us to follow test cricket anyways thats another aspect that he has lost his form/fitness and u cant accuse greats or even anyone with baseless allegations.

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