Nagpur, Dec. 14 -- After cherishing the highs of 100 international centuries, failure cannot be easy for a player of Sachin Tendulkar's calibre.
It does not happen often that the home crowd rejoices at the fall of an Indian wicket. Unless, of course, the next man in is Tendulkar. The moment Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed, the crowd roared. Tendulkar quickly walked out of the dressing room to the cheers of the spectators.
After negotiating Swann, Tendulkar came up against Panesar who beat him off the first two deliveries. That a man with over 30,000 runs was feeling nervous was surprising, but that is what lack of runs can do.
Over the last three Tests, Tendulkar has scored 110 runs from five innings with just one half century. That he has got into the habit of seeing his stumps uprooted with monotonous regularity is extremely disturbing. A man known to place a huge premium on his wicket, Tendulkar was clean bowled in all the three innings he played against New Zealand at home.
Later, Panesar bowled him in Mumbai. And in Nagpur, a tentative Tendulkar stayed rooted to the crease as Anderson disturbed his woodwork. The ball stayed low, clipped his bat and crashed into the stumps.
The crowd was stunned as Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion without any exaggerated show of emotions.
"He (Sachin) is the best man to have in the team in a situation like this because of the kind of experience he has and the kind of performances he has given in similar situations," MS Dhoni had said before the start of the game. However, Tendulkar let his team down once again.
"I feel his right arm is coming too much into play when he is attempting a shot, which is inducing the inside edge," said Anshuman Gaekwad, former India coach.
Dhoni had requested all to not speculate about Tendulkar's future before the Nagpur Test. But would he come up with the same request again, now that Tendulkar has failed once more.
In an interview recently, Tendulkar had said that he "does not have a lot of cricket left in him". The determination to succeed is evident when he practices for hours in the nets. But with repeated failures, is the end of the Tendulkar era round the corner?
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.