Photo: Nagpur 2004

Meditative on match eve

October 30, 2013

© Associated Press
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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

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Posted by Cricinfo on (October 30, 2013, 6:24 GMT)

Thanks for pointing out the error, narayanan723. This has been fixed.

Posted by Dummy4 on (October 30, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

remember the soft drink ad where sachin hits cricket balls with stumps... the original idea was to hit the balls with a fly swatter... but the maestro refused doing that because he said that it would seem that he is above the game..... such humility

Posted by narayanan on (October 30, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

Nice picture. But there is a factual error in this article. India had not lost the first two tests. They had lost the first one at Bangalore and the second one at Chennai ended in a draw as rain robbed India of a possible victory on the fifth day.

Posted by Dummy4 on (October 30, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

Wow..this is what the Indian cap means to The Master. This is what it takes to be a world champion. Prepare, prepare and prepare some more. Nothing left to chance. We bow down to you and are grateful for showing all of us how to go about our lives!!


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Zaltz Stats

The approximate number of people in India today who had not been born when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 (calculated from these figures). His batting has been so erotically outstanding that the global population has increased by almost 2 billion during his career, with the biggest increase, understandably, in India itself.

I have played cricket for 24 years, it has been only 24 hours since retirement, and I think I should get at least 24 days to relax before deciding these things.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want to think of what lies ahead just yet