Photo: Nagpur 2004
Meditative on match eve
Matthew Hayden was known to meditate on the pitch as part of his preparations for a match, and it was a favourite shot for photographers. Here, in Nagpur in 2004, a day before the third Test of the series, he is accompanied by Sachin Tendulkar, who had returned to the side after spending two months out due to a tennis elbow.
India were down 0-1* and were staring at an ignominious series loss. Their 35-year defence of what the Australians called "the final frontier" was under threat. The pitch was the centre of controversy before the Test for its green cover - umpire David Shepherd, on seeing it, remarked, "Looks like home, don't it?" - despite India's captain, Sourav Ganguly, reportedly asking for the grass to be removed.
Tendulkar made 8 and 2, Hayden 23 and 9. Australia won by 342 runs, their biggest victory against India in terms of runs. In the final Test, on a pitch that turned square right from the start, Tendulkar scored a crucial 55 to give India victory in a low-scoring thriller.
But back to match eve in Nagpur. Tendulkar was known for his rigorous, almost brutal practice regime throughout his career. In the Sportstar, Vijay Lokapally described his preparations for the one-day series against Australia in 2009:
"He arrived early in the morning and left late afternoon. He was precise about everything -- he began with a drill of hitting and running four. He did it 25 times and had to wait because his partner had retired owing to fatigue. The next drill was hitting and running three, followed by hitting and running two. For these drills, his partner was a youngster as Tendulkar visualised a tougher situation, like playing the ball to Ricky Ponting's left at point and scampering for a run and then playing to his right for another run.
"The next exercise was facing the bowling machine at 90-plus. Tendulkar, visualising facing Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, ducked and swayed against short balls from 18 yards and dug out yorkers hurled from 16 yards. And then he practised the upper cut, the flick and so on. This was just one of the many such sessions he had alone."
*October 30, 06:06 GMT: The series result ahead of the third Test was corrected from 0-2 to 0-1