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Sachin follows heart, to take it series by series

Sachin Tendulkar has all along maintained that he would continue to turn out for India as long as he enjoys the game and contributes to the team’s cause. And the guiding principle still holds good for master blaster. Refusing, as usual, to put a date to his retirement, Tendulkar, in an
interview to a TV channel, said he was feeling good at the moment. “I will go by what my heart says. At this moment, my heart says I am okay. But you will have to look at series by series. When I play in November, I will reassess things,” said Tendulkar.

“It depends on my frame of mind and physical ability to deliver. When I feel that I am not delivering what is needed, I will re-look at the scheme of things,” said Tendulkar. How he would reassess in November isn’t clear for he would be busy playing a series against England that will run almost until December end.

Anyhow, the manner of his dismissal against New Zealand seems to be the immediate cause that triggered off speculation on his retirement.

It was perhaps during the team’s tour of Australia that the seeds of doubt were sowed in the master’s mind. It was one of India’s worst losses and the repercussions of the 0-4 rout were grave. The pressure led to the retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who along with Tendulkar formed the famed middle order of the 1990s and 2000.

Tendulkar also felt the strain of the debacle when he fizzled out after a bright start. The Australians kept the pressure on by denying him the 100th century during the two-and-a-half-month tour. In the Tests, after scores of 73, 32, 41 and 80 in his first four innings, Tendulkar could only get 15, 8, 25 and 13 in his last four. In the seven ODIs he played, his highest score was 48.

As Australia’s bowling coach, Craig McDermott was instrumental in plotting Tendulkar’s downfall, and he told HT on how they went about neutralising the Tendulkar factor. “Our plan was to bowl to him full and on the fifth stump, and try and get him to play in the covers and edging in the slips,” said McDermott, who was at the ICC World T20 as Ireland’s bowling coach.

Following career
Interestingly, McDermott has seen Tendulkar’s career turn a full circle, having played against India in 1991-92, which was the Mumbai batsman’s first tour Down Under.

Then 18, Tendulkar had wowed the crowds with two hundreds. Asked to analyse the Tendulkar he played against, to the one he saw 20 years later, McDermott said, “He always kept us on our toes, he’s a world-class player. Sachin batted well on occasions in the last series as well. “As for the retirement call, it’s up to him. He’s a world champion, a great player and I take my hat off to him,” said McDermott, who finished with 291 wickets in 71 Tests.

A top-notch bowling coach, who is credited with transforming the fortunes of  the Australia pace attack in the last 12 months, the highlight of McDermott’s tenure is the success against the strong India batting line-up. It’s all about the art of taking wickets, he says. The former spearhead of the Australia attack believes that from the time of his contemporary, Kapil Dev, to the current lot, India have produced bowlers with potential.

“Yadav and Ishant are learning their trades and its how its (talent) harnessed. That is up to how India handles them.

“In Australia the Indians bowled a little too short and didn’t swing the ball. Zaheer (Khan) swung it but you can’t depend on one bowler.”

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