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Monday, July 22, 2024

Sachin bats, sprints and tutors!

BANGALORE: When Sachin Tendulkar walked out to the Chinnaswamy Stadium turf on Friday for what was supposed to be a short fielding session – which in itself was after a brief period of rest following a 45-minute net session on the adjoining NCA pitches – there was a sudden summons issued to the ground staff.Surely he wasn’t planning a net in the middle was the first thought. After all the pitches were far from ready, what with the second Test match against New Zealand only starting on August 31. But after a brief word, Tendulkar went on to do a few sprints and got his favourite support staff member Raghavendra to help with some fielding drills, generally leaving one wondering what he wanted from the KSCA ground staff.It soon became clear when he told Raghavendra to stand near the boundary line while he himself picked up the bat, threw the ball in the air and hit a few balls. The force he hit the ball with varied and that gave the game away. The perfectionist had noticed that the outfield seemed heavy and wanted to check out how much power was required to reach the boundary.It just went to prove the adage that behind every champion there are loads of preparation and that this man’s preparation included a lot more facets than is normal. Of course, Tendulkar would have factored in the truth that towards match day, the grass would be more closely cut on the outfield as well as the pitch itself.During the net session earlier, after two days of relatively quiet batting, on Friday, the strokes started flowing. The upper cut, a stroke patented by him and Virender Sehwag in Tests, when there is usually no third man, too was employed but it was obvious that the focus was on picking the length that the bowlers – a mix of local and other first class cricketers with Zaheer Khan not bowling to him on the day – were employing.Even as he was getting his eye in, the feet moving, and the bat coming down the right way, there was a certain indulgence with the bowlers. Every now and then Tendulkar walked across the young lads wanting to know if they knew what they were bowling. Somehow it seemed important to Tendulkar that the young men weren’t simply running in and turning their arms over. He’s always had a purpose and he wanted it that way with the lads too. They were naturally all ears.All the while 100-odd other lads, present at the venue for the Under-19 inter-zonal trials, sat quietly and watched in wonder as their hero batted on. The butterflies in the stomach, a common occurrence during any selection trial, were forgotten for the 45 minutes that Tendulkar wielded his willow.When he followed all that up by signing a few autographs as well, the selection trials for the lucky ones, were easily relegated to second place. One of the young men even removed his shirt and thrust it as an autograph book, leaving Tendulkar, used as he is to crazy fans, somewhat bemused, the kind of look bowlers around the world end up having when he gets going.

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