By Abhishek Roy
MUMBAI, Nov 13 — Sachin Tendulkar may have chosen to draw the curtains on a glittering international career before his adoring fans at hometown Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium, but the master blaster’s Test record at the ground is quite a few notches below his best. Also, he has time and again missed out on deserving hundreds after good build-ups.
Besides that Mumbai is his home town, Tendulkar may have decided to opt for Wankhede for his 200th and farewell Test match guided by a desire to fulfill the wishes of his unwell mother Rajni and coach Ramakant Achrekar, who wanted to watch the legend’s swansong from the galleries.
The India-West Indies Test match begins Thursday, but Tendulkar needs to be cautious on a ground where he twice got out in the 70s, once in the 80s and on a couple of occasions in the nervous 90s.
But it’s not been all bad, as the batting great lifted the 2011 World Cup here.
The batting legend enjoys a great first class record – 3,534 runs with a highest of unbeaten 233. But in 10 Tests here, Tendulkar has got 847 runs, highest being 148 (against Sri Lanka in 1996-97), at an average of 47.05, a far cry from his impressive record at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, or Chennai’s M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.
In his first Test on his home ground in 1993 against the Mike Gatting-led England, Tendulkar was batting on 78 but was trapped leg before by Phil Tufnell.
A year later, turning out against the West Indies, Tendulkar was in sight of his eighth Test century, but suffered a soft dismissal on 85, edging Carl Hopper’s gentle off-spin to wicketkeeper Junior Murray.
Finally in 1997, skipper Tendulkar got his only Test century at the Wankhede, a fine 148 in the first innings against Sri Lanka. But it was completely overshadowed by a magnificent 173 by Sourav Ganguly and the match ended in a draw.
Three years later, against the South Africans Tendulkar struck a valiant 97 in the first innings when the Indians collapsed for 225 runs. Three short of a heroic century, the Mumbaikar edged veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.
In the same match, Tendulkar turned his golden arm to pick up three wickets for 10 runs, as the South Africans were skittled out for 176 in the first innings. But South African skipper Hansie Cronje and Shaun Pollock ran through the Indian batting in the second innings, and the visitors went on to register a four-wicket win.
The next outing came in the historic 2001 series against the all-conquering Australians, led by Steve Waugh, who were on a record 15-match win.
Tendulkar defied the Aussies to top score with a fine 76 but the Indians were bowled out for 176 runs in their opening essay. Australia won the match by 10 wickets.
In 2011, Tendulkar fell for 94 against the West Indies in the first innings. Wankhede was stunned into silence as pacer Ravi Rampaul spoiled the party with skipper Darren Sammy taking a safe catch at second slip.
But Thursday would be a new dawn, and the millions of Tendulkar fans would be hoping their hero would break a 15-year jinx to score his second hundred on his home ground, to bring his fairytale career to a befitting end. Many hands would go up in supplication and many heads would bow down in prayer, for sure.