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Turbulent and testing times for Tendulkar

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By K. C. Vijaya Kumar : The number 99 has a certain resonance in cricket. It is that phase when a batsman nervously pauses ahead of a milestone.

It is also a statistical nugget that gifts awe, as the late Sir Don Bradman's Test average is 99.94.

Number 99 was again in the loop when India set foot in England during July.

Sachin Tendulkar was on the cusp of something mind-boggling. He had scored 99 international hundreds (51 in Tests, 48 in ODIs) and one more that too at the game's traditional home Lord's would have been ideal for the game's romantics.

Inept display

The century never happened and a toe-injury forced Tendulkar to leave England with his ton-tally grounded at 99 but more than that, India is no longer the No.1 team in Tests and that will hurt him.

The hundred will surely come but the recent futile wait, which also coincided with India's inept display in England, symbolised both an individual and a team's sudden slump against an upbeat host.

The Lord's Test marked the beginning of India's descent and Rahul Dravid's resurgence while Tendulkar, who had relaxed in his London apartment ahead of the tour, hardly felt at home through the series and a 91 in the final innings at the Oval, was a patchy quilt-work in which his genius remained muted.

He had skipped the West Indies tour prior to landing in England and there were whispers about whether he took his time to adjust to the rhythms of Test cricket.

His 273 runs from eight innings against England at an average of 34.12 did not stack up against the back-story.

The lead-up until he reached England was all about runs and longevity.

In the previous ten Tests prior to Lord's, Tendulkar amassed 1153 runs and averaged 82.35. In that eventful phase, he slammed a double century each against Sri Lanka and Australia besides two tons in South Africa.

The immediate visual recall was however the World Cup final at Mumbai on April 2.

On that night, Tendulkar was chaired by his team-mates with M.S. Dhoni letting the maestro enjoy the moment he had been waiting for ever since his first World Cup in 1992.

Despite failing in the final, Tendulkar was the second highest run-getter (482) after Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Read the full article from The Hindu

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