Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, IPL, Cape Town April 18, 2009

Calm Tendulkar sets tone for IPL 2

Victor Brown
It was a strange kind of start, but Tendulkar's thoughtfulness made it an intriguing, and possibly tone-setting, one

For gnarled, one-year veterans of the Indian Premier League there will be always be Brendon and Bangalore. The bar was set so high by last year's curtain-raiser, when Brendon McCullum lit up the night sky with a pulsating 158 not out, that whatever happened today was destined to feel like an anti-climax. Sure enough, Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten 59 from 49 balls was a model of good sense. Despite the impression given by some of its officials, the IPL can't have everything.

Tendulkar, though, knew what he was doing. MS Dhoni had asked the Mumbai Indians to bat in conditions that must have made tournament organisers wince after they backed South Africa as hosts ahead of England partly because of the weather. Drizzle was in the air and the outfield looked lush. The only thing persuading Andrew Flintoff that he hadn't just rocked up at Derby or Northampton was the sight of Table Mountain, although even that was shrouded in party-pooping cloud.

The result was that Tendulkar and his opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya actually had to play themselves in, a concept that struggled to catch on in India in 2008. The first boundary did not come until the 10th ball - that was only a leg-side tuck for four - and it took until the third over, when Tendulkar lofted Manpreet Gony over extra cover, that the first shot was played in anger. Look out for the role of the seaming new ball as this tournament progresses.

"At the start of the day the wicket was damp," Tendulkar said. "In the first six or seven overs it was not easy to get the ball away. Later, when it dried up a bit, there were more shot options." Asked whether he intended to bat through the innings on a regular basis, he replied: "If we disclose all our strategies, they won't be a secret any more."

As wickets kept falling at the other end, Tendulkar's secret may have been that he just kept on going. It wasn't always easy. A quadruped of indeterminate pedigree made its way onto the field after 6.1 overs and wouldn't leave for 11 minutes, thus eating into crucial advertising time and, as security guards missed a succession of rugby tackles. Then, the man in charge of the musical system held up play for a further two minutes, obliviously banging his drums while the players waited and waited. Finally came the time-out.

But Tendulkar was not to be distracted and found a more gung-ho ally in Abhishek Nayar. In fact it was Nayar alone who briefly stirred the ghosts of McCullum past, mowing three sixes in four balls off Flintoff and making a mockery of the IPL's market economy in the process. While Flintoff fetched $1.55m, Nayar was originally signed for just $40,000 - a figure that was upped to $100,000 this year. Take pro-rata calculations into account, and one Flintoff in effect equals 10 Nayars.

Tendulkar needs no such formula to work out his worth. He gave himself room to ease Thilan Thushara over extra cover, then moved to a half-century by Jacob Oram for four over long-off. Another boundary in Flintoff's final over provided a final flourish. Last year, McCullum hit 13 sixes all by himself. Today, Mumbai had to make do with Nayar's brief flurry.

Yet Tendulkar's calmness had quietly built the kind of total - 165 for 7 - that commentators had decreed in advance would be a match-winner. And so it proved. Matthew Hayden enjoyed himself for a while to hit 44 from 35 balls, and Flintoff contributed a muscular but flawed 24 off 23, but not even Dhoni's notoriously broad blade could keep up with a mounting asking rate. "We were let down by our bowlers," Dhoni said afterwards. "We didn't bowl as we planned."

Tougher conditions for batsmen here in South Africa could place a greater onus on tried and tested techniques. To the relief of the purists, the sloggers might not have everything their own way. It was a strange kind of start, but Tendulkar's thoughtfulness made it an intriguing, and possibly tone-setting, one.

Victor Brown is a freelance cricket writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Margot on April 23, 2009, 2:57 GMT

    A New Zealand cricket association is selling 2009 tour Sachin Tendulkar memorabilia to raise funds for junior cricket,

  • Ashok on April 20, 2009, 18:48 GMT

    It is not always the highly paid players who succeed in the 20/20. Nayar clouted Flintoff for 3 sixers in 4 balls to prove that a player paid 15 times his salary is not really worth 1.55 millions.Tendulkar's innings won the match for Mumbai. It was a responsible innings and he carried his bat thru' the innings. Secondly he captained the team well to win with limited talent of bowlers led by Harbhajan. Chennai bowlers were poor to say the least and despite Hayden & Dhoni's brave attempts fell short of the target. Chennai is a good team with strong leadership in Dhoni. Nevertheless they will be hard pressed to make it to the final. Mumbai's current form entitles this team to be one of the top 2 contenders for the IPL 2 title. Mumbai has strong batting to match Delhi and it seems like these two teams will meet in the final if top players in the either team do not have any injuries. We expect to see some really good games during next few weeks.

  • GANESH on April 19, 2009, 9:48 GMT

    Rk chandru is correct, I have the same feeling about Chennai super kings, it should be called doni super kings, It looks like Doni doesn't believe in Tamilnadu's talent, Badrinath was not used properly in the last IPL too, his place is one down or two, definitely not below, if you want to utilize his potential. I could see the frustration from badrinath which is what all chennaites feel now, I hope N.Srinivasan reads these feedbacks. Win at any cost is not we chennaites are looking at, we would like to see players from Chennai or TN performing. Before we loose interest, I hope it gets corrected.- Ganesh

  • Ananth on April 19, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    To A-Cricket-Fan - Rahul has been the foundation of the Indian team be it in Tests and One-Dayers for the last several years, he has been the wall, and most of the times the roof over its head. But people dont talk about the foundation, the walls or roof. They only talk about the paint over the walls, the door frames, glass windows, doors and their hinges, the chimney on the roof, the entrance steps, door bell, drain pipes, even the waste dump outside the house. But not about the walls, roof or the foundation. Because it is not considered fashionable!

  • Ananth on April 19, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    To BlastMaster and Shaky - I know this story was written much before Dravid came to bat. But the point I wanted to make was that a similar story wont be wriiten about Dravid, though his was a better innings, and the best performance of the day. I posted my comments several hours after the second match, and till now, there is nothing on Cricinfo, giving the credit that Dravid deserves. And I dont expect it to happen. I dont want to take anything away from Sachin's innings or the praise showered on him. But,again, even if Sachin had made even a scatchy 40, the headings would have been the same; while even if Dravid climbs Mt. Everest, nothing would be said about him. Dravid's was the best performance of the day for class and effect, Kumble's was the best from a statistical point of view. But, Sambit Bal/Victor Brown have not written a piece on them. They wont. The 3 articles on Cricinfo are about (1)KP's captaincy (2) Warne's wizardry (3)Sachin's calmness and common sense.

  • Manan on April 19, 2009, 5:33 GMT

    I also agree to other comments on not giving due credit to Dravid's Inning... but it's not new, The media & Malya wants sensation which Dravid is not. If we put Dravid & Dhoni's last IPL stats together... we will find shocking similarity and yet one is considered slow and other a star. Same conclusion were drawn whenever Dravid was compared to Ganguly...Dravid was called slow & Ganguly fast where as their ODI strike rates are quite identical (71 & 73)...Mind well, Ganguly scored most of his runs with field restrictions and no pressure as an opener & Dravid while playing an anchor role with wickets falling on other end. Yes Dhoni & Ganguly have been better captains and they are very good batsmen too...but please give due respect to the UNSUNG hero for the selfless roll he has played for so many years...I would like to call him a Foundation which holds the building but is still not visible and not the Wall.

  • SEKHAR on April 19, 2009, 5:31 GMT

    This post is about how an innings "set the tone" meaning,the highlight in the first ever match of the tournament.For last year it was Brendon McCullum's 158*,this time it is Tendulkar's 59*.The article is about Tendulkar and people are asking why Pietersen,Warne and Dravid are not featured.If you are so desperate to have them,start a blog and write a post criticising this article.

  • Sawan on April 19, 2009, 5:00 GMT

    Do you people realize that this story may have been written before Dravid even came to the crease in the 2nd game?

  • RK on April 19, 2009, 4:56 GMT

    Are any Chennaiites really attached to this team? Well! I'm not. I may well call this team Dhoni's Super Kings, instead of calling it Chennai Super Kings. Barring the name ofcourse, this team hardly has anything to do with Chennai.

    When Flintoff went for 11 an over, Ashwin wasn't called to bowl. Ashwin ended up mere `also ran' in the end. Badri would have been an ideal No.3 (or, No.4) batsman; whereas, he was dropped further down in the order and humiliated. Parthiv was preferred when there was already a WK in the captain himself in the team, ahead of an Aniruddha / Vidyut / Abhinav Mukund. Even in the poorly made up CSK Ad, only Dhoni, Raina and Joginder are in the forefront and not a Balaji or a Badri.

    The owner of the team seems to have no say over the team and I'm sure if it's let to go on like this, Chennaiites would sure lose interest and attachment over the team. In the context of what's happening and who's the boss, isn't it wise to call this team Dhoni's Super Kings???

  • Prince on April 19, 2009, 4:22 GMT

    At the moment;no,for the last 2 years,Flintoff has been a batsman equal to the calibre of Mashrafe Mortaza.Flintoff's bowling remains world class,though.But yes,it's shocking that a bowler gets $ 1.55 million.

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