Sachin and Jaffer, a tale of abrupt endings

Once the butterflies left the bowlers' stomachs this morning, allowing India to bowl out England and storm back into this Test match, they seem to have settled comfortably in the batsmen's tummys. They were nervous and edgy and one even paid for withdrawing into a shell after being well set.

Scaling peaks comes as second nature to Sachin Tendulkar. Today he went past Steve Waugh's tally of 10927 runs, but even a batsman of his experience suffered the jitters. Lord's applauded his entry with an air of veneration, a string of clapping that's mostly reserved for centuries. He's treated audiences here to a one-day hundred but this was a great chance to get his name on that honours board. The start was iffy, the end abrupt.

Tendulkar kept trying to slash with his feet rooted, almost as you'd expect Virender Sehwag to do, and kept missing. Chris Tremlett troubled him with bounce but also helped him by spraying it a bit. Peachy drives interspersed the nervous swishes; one moment the crowd purred, the other moment they sighed in anguish. He was keeping them on tenterhooks, all right. It was a crucial innings, and he was beginning to handle Monty Panesar deftly, but it left one wanting so much more.

Dinesh Karthik and Rahul Dravid hardly got their engines running but Wasim Jaffer took the opposite route. He rarely begins without testing the edge of his bat and today he decided to nick early, as if to say, "Let's get this ritual out of the way". Matt Prior played along by fluffing a tough diving chance to his right. But Jaffer was flowing soon. Domestic teams that take on Mumbai know they may just get one chance with Jaffer; once set he's almost invincible at the crease.

Here at one point he was outshining Tendulkar, getting out those feather-touches that persuaded the ball through the covers. His fours don't bullet to the fence, they taunt the fielders before trickling to the ropes. The half-century came up in 100 balls, the confidence was there to see, the bat was swinging fluently. Suddenly there was a power cut.

Having reached his half-century with a four, he went through a 15-ball phase without scoring; then a single followed by another 15-ball dot sequence; then a legbye, a dot, a dangerous swipe across the line, another dot, a couple to cover, a flick to backward square leg, five dots, a brace to cover, and nine more dots. Next ball he received a short one from Tremlett, unsure what to do with it, he defended it limply and popped up a return catch. Forty six dots in 56 deliveries and then out. Predictable and completely unnecessary. It was a fine innings but the second half will, for the moment at least, stick more in the mind than the first.