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Where is the real Sachin?

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
March 19, 2006 20:43 IST
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The loud boos that greeted Sachin Tendulkar as he walked back after being dismissed for 1 in the first innings of the third Test against England in Mumbai said the whole story.

It was Tendulkar's record 132nd Test match, the most by an Indian player, but it hasn't gone to script yet, else, how can one explain the booing by his home fans.

Before the start of the match, the master batsman was felicitated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to a loud cheer from the crowd. Also when he walked into bat with India on 24 for 2, the crowd gave him a loud welcome as the chants of 'Sachin'; 'Sachin' filled the stands.

There was an air of expectation around the Wankhede stadium that Sachin would produce something special for the huge Sunday-gathering, some of whom had waited in the queue outside for a few hours before finally getting their tickets.

But 41 balls later they were all left disappointed as Sachin flashed his wide blade to an outswinger from James Anderson to offer a simplest of catches to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

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'Was this for real' seemed the feeling among the crowd? After all this was the moment everybody had come into the stadium for. Of course, there is Mahendra Singh Dhoni now, but Sachin has since ages been Mumbai's darling, their hero and for them he is irreplaceable.

But if you look closely at the statistics, Sachin has been struggling in Test matches for some time now.

Since his century (109) against Sri Lanka at Delhi in December last year, he has failed to cross the 30-run mark in 10 innings since then.

His scores since the century read - 16, 23, 19, 14, 23, 26, 16, 28*, 4 and 1.

His career statistics still rank among the best - 10435 runs at 55.50, but then even some of the players axed recently did boast of high career averages, but were dropped after a string of low scores.

Will the same rule apply to Sachin if he fails to sparkle in the second innings too?

No wonder someone in the stands yelled 'Where is the real Sachin?' as he walked back and it seems he was bang on target.

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai

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