Plenty to fear from Little Master Tendulkar

It is a measure of Sachin Tendulkar's greatness that he produces his best performances when pitted against the best opposition, and in this case, it will be Australia. Tendulkar has made more runs per innings (60.60) against Australia than against any other major Test team, and the Aussies have been the leading Test team through much of his 22-year Test career, reports The Age.

Pic/Rajesh Shah

Tendulkar first played in Australia in 1991, as an 18-year-old, three years into his career, and compiled 148 not out in his third Test of the tour at the SCG in January 1992.

The Little Master plundered the bowling of first-game leg-spinner Shane Warne (1-150) and co. in a 196-run partnership with Ravi Shastri (206). In nine knocks in that series, Sachin made less than 40 seven times. But the two tons (he added 114 in a 300-run loss in the fifth Test at then-bouncy Perth) showcased his quality, and ability to adapt to varied conditions.

The Sydney pitch in those days turned sharply, and Australia often played two spinners for the only time in series. And Perth was still a fast, bouncy surface that favoured pace men. Totally different batting techniques were required at the two venues, and Tendulkar mastered both. His balanced, efficient style, reliant on timing, rather than extensive footwork, meant he played the ball late, and could cope with movement.

The pattern established in that first series against Australia has continued throughout Sachin's career - either get him out cheaply (he has been out for less than 20 in 41% of his innings, a relatively high figure for such a great player) - or suffer major consequences.

Once Tendulkar is on top of the bowling, he is insatiable, not easily satisfied by reaching three figures, and almost impossible to dismiss. Of the 10 centuries, he has scored against the Aussies in 29 Tests, he end up not out in four of them, and most became monstrous epics: 148*, 114, 155*, 177, 116, 126, 241*, 154*, 153, 109, 214. However, given his stellar record down under, it would be a foolhardy fan to bet against the Little Master plundering the Aussies yet again.

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