The stage is set for Sachin Tendulkar’s swansong! It could not have been scripted any better. Mahendra Singh Dhoni wins the flip of the specially-commemorated-SRT-200 coin at the toss and elects to bowl on a juicy Wankhede track.
His pace bowlers Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar extract maximum bounce and swing to peg the visitors on the backfoot more often than not. And then, soon after availing some of the finest Indian hospitality at lunch — from 93 for two off 28 overs, Darren Sammy & Co capitulate to 182 all out in 55.2 overs minutes away from tea.
It gets more interesting. India openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan get off to a flier before Dhawan departs (33 runs, 7x4s) while attempting to sweep off-spinner Shane Shillingford and only managing to find Shivnarine Chanderpaul at deep square leg. Two balls later, Vijay is off in a huff too (43, 8x4s) — offering a simple bat-pad to Sammy.
Wait is finally over
Enter Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar — playing his 200th and final Test in front of an eager Wankhede crowd, who would have hated Dhoni for fielding first and possibly depriving Tendulkar a bat on Day One. Little did they know that the Windies too were only as eager to watch the Master bat on the first day itself. How else does one explain a team losing eight wickets for just 96 runs in a matter of 30 overs?
Tendulkar’s stage however seemed set from the very first delivery of the day. Windies big-hitter Chris Gayle played a Bhuvneshwar Kumar inswinger straight to Tendulkar at mid-on for a single even as the legend merrily picked up the ball and went with it to Bhuvi.
Mentoring is something that must come naturally to Tendulkar given his 24-year international stint and who better to benefit from it than India’s young pace duo of Bhuvneshwar and Shami. Tendulkar kept going up to them from mid-on, egging them on each time they strayed.
Even when not mentoring, Tendulkar was part of the action somehow. Ask Windies veteran Chanderpaul, himself playing in his landmark 150th Test. A quick turn down legside saw the left-hander scamper quickly for one, in a bid to come back for the second, but the moment he looked over his shoulder and saw Tendulkar at fine leg, he stopped dead in his tracks. One run only it was, as a quick and flat Tendulkar throw thumped into ’keeper Dhoni’s gloves.
Best for last
The Little Master however saved his best for last — in this context — close to the end of the day’s play. Tendulkar came to the crease — amidst a guard of honour by the West Indies — with the score reading 77-2. He was up against Shillingford, who had stunned him with the doosra at the Eden Gardens recently. The maestro watchfully negotiated a few deliveries before he took a single off Shillingford’s next over.
Having sized up the tall West Indian now, Tendulkar unleashed two power-packed boundaries when he showed up next — the first through point and the second a classy drive through mid-off. The crowd roared and “Saaachin Saachin” chants drowned everything else. Four more boundaries flowed off Tendulkar’s blade — a cover drive, a pull leg side, a deflection down to fine leg and finally the Tendulkaresque on-drive.
These interspersed with some solid forward defence — on bended knee at times — were the highlight of Tendulkar’s hour-long 38-run unbeaten stay that promises a big one. on the morrow. India finished Day One on 157 for two but the bigger story is that Tendulkar is unfinished. It’s now or never considering a second innings might not come around. A Tendulkar ton is due — he owes it to himself more than anyone else!
WI (1st innings)
C Gayle c R Sharma b Mohammed Shami 11
K Powell c Dhawan b Ojha 48
D Bravo c Dhoni b Ashwin 29
M Samuels c Vijay b Ojha 19
S Chanderpaul c Ashwin b B Kumar 25
N Deonarine c Vijay b Ashwin 21
D Ramdin not out 12
D Sammy c Sharma b Ashwin 0
S Shillingford lbw b Ojha 0
T Best c Dhoni b Ojha 0
S Gabriel c Dhoni b Ojha 1
Extras (b 8, lb 8) 16
Total (all out, 55.2 overs) 182
Fall of wickets 1-25, 2-86, 3-97, 4-140, 5-148, 6-162, 7-162, 8-162, 9-172
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 17-2-45-1
Mohammed Shami 12-2-36-1
Ravichandran Ashwin 15-2-45-3
Pragyan Ojha 11.2-2-40-5
India (1st innings)
Murali Vijay c Sammy b Shillingford 43
S Dhawan c Chanderpaul b Shillingford 33
C Pujara not out 34
S Tendulkar not out 38
Extras (b 8, nb 1) 9
Total (for two wickets in 34 overs) 157
Fall of wickets 1-77, 2-77
Darren Sammy 6-0-27-0
Shannon Gabriel 6-0 -32-0
Shane Shillingford 12-1-46-2
Tino Best 5-0-27-0
Marlon Samuels 5-0-17-0