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Tendulkar sparkles but India lose

Sachin Tendulkar sends the ball into the stands during his 103-ball century Getty Images

On Twitter, Ian O'Brien caught the carnage in the initial overs at Nagpur perfectly: "Currently sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth, having Indian nightmare. Poor bowlers, it's not fair." On a batting pitch, Sachin Tendulkar enthralled with his almost serene aggression, and Virender Sehwag dazzled with his impish strokeplay, as India rattled up 174 by the half-way mark.

If Sehwag pumped in the adrenalin, Tendulkar oozed class. Controlled aggression is a term loosely bandied about but there has been rarely a better definition of it than the one provided by Tendulkar today. If you just noticed the strike rate, it would be tempting to say he rolled back the clock and was his young adventurous young self but it was a perfect mix of temperance and aggression. There was not a single shot that looked risky and yet he played all the shots, even a hooked six, a shot that he doesn't play too often these days.

Tendulkar faced just 20 balls in the first ten overs but had raced away to 35 and his fifty came off 33 balls. Yet there was not one manic shot. It was in the eighth over, from Morkel, that he really got going with an awesome thump through covers which was followed by a gorgeous straight drive. Like always, he held his pose even as Morkel was down on the mat. It was a moment that perfectly caught the one-sided battle.

When Steyn fired a bouncer in the 10th over, Tendulkar unfurled a stylish hook to deposit it beyond the backward square-leg boundary. When Jacques Kallis bowled a slower one, Tendulkar glided forward and across to whip the off cutter past mid-on. Unlike Sehwag, Tendulkar played the spinners as per demands of the ball but of course on his own terms. He went down the track to loft over long-on, he drove straight, he played inside-out with the turn and as always, worked the angles.

It should have been his night but cruelly it was his shot that triggered a stunning implosion in the batting Powerplay, which proved the difference in the end.