Sachin in prime position for monumental feat

Sachin Tendulkar gave enough evidence that he is in prime position to get his 100th international ton at his beloved Wankhede Stadium today

Sachin Tendulkar is just 33 runs shy of his monumental 100th international hundred. When he arrived at the crease yesterday, there was a sense of urgency in his game. Tendulkar, who typically lunges forward before each delivery, a natural front foot player, was a lot more subdued with his movements at the crease -- symptoms of poise and aggression.

Sachin Tendulkar on Day Three against West Indies at Wankhede
Stadium yesterday.
Pic/Suresh KK

That was best displayed in the way he upper cut a quick Fidel Edwards bouncer over the third man fence, or when he executed the same shot against a turning delivery from Marlon Samuels -- a shot he'd perhaps never played before. "Definitely, that's a first-time shot from him. Never seen this before," a veteran journalist said The first indication of an aggressive Tendulkar was the way he got off the mark with his very first ball.

Ravi Rampaul steamed in with a quick ball, Tendulkar stood back and punched it wide of cover. When Devendra Bishoo bowled a quick leg-break, Tendulkar rocked back and guided it past slip. These were shots of a man at the top of his game. There was an urgency to score runs, but it was subdued aggression. His body language was composed, no premeditated shots in his armoury.

 During the dying stages of the day, he tried to steer one to third man off Darren Sammy, but received a lifeline as Carlon Baugh failed to grab the chance. What this did prove however was an intention to score off a ball relatively close to cut.

Throwback to his famous double century against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2004, Tendulkar was reluctant to use the depth of the crease, play uppishly or bring out the drive. That is the tentative Tendulkar. The aggressive Tendulkar is one that paddle-sweeps Shane Warne, uppercuts Shoaib Akhtar, looks to disrupt a bowler's plans.

Sammy tried to strangle him with a defensive line and field placement - and did so successfully for a while -- conceding only 12 runs off 38 balls.

During this passage of play that saw a seven-two off-side field set by West Indies, Tendulkar shot back when he managed to cut a wide ball in front of square -- bisecting deep point. Three fielders turned around, looking stunned.

That shot reiterated that he was going to any extent to pick up a boundary. 'Continue to remain positive' must have been the self aide-memoire for Tendulkar as he tucked into his bed last night. Today is perhaps 'the day'.

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