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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tendulkar, entertainer par excellence

The visual of a cherubic schoolboy,Sachin Tendulkar, talking to actor and cricketing enthusiast Tom Alter was repeatedly flashing on the electronic scoreboard at the empty Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Jamtha on the eve of the India-South Africa World Cup match on Friday.

For whoever thought of testing the screen with that famous audio visual could be 'Paul the Octopus'.

The interview, taken at PJ Hindu Gymkhana,Mumbai, 1989, is one of the first images the cricketing world saw of boy wonder Tendulkar.

Twenty-two years down the line, the world has changed around Tendulkar, but not his cricket. He bats with the same intensity and brings the same joy to the game.

The 44,000 capacity crowd got the full value for their money watching the maestro, in full flow - something that he has done all these years, relentlessly and untiringly.

His sixth World Cup century Saturday was no different. It came with the class, he has stamped on his 99 international hundreds.

The well-crafted innings kept the spectators on their feet.

Tendulkar was confidence personified when he took on Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. The duel may not be of the same intensity that he faced in South Africa just a moth before when he tackled the world's two best pacemen with comfort, but the World Cup is a bigger stage.

Eight fours and three sixes came off his bat, some of the shots a throwback to his olden days. A ferociously pulled six off Steyn and two sixes coming down the track off slower bowlers made the clock tick back.

A straight drive off Morkel looked the most elegant. The full blade coming down on the ball and his stylish copy book follow through made it an enjoyable evening.

Before the start of the World Cup, there was lot of talk of the team wanting to win the World cup for Tendulkar. The master batsman has made his bat do the talking. Two centuries in four matches so far, 120 against England and now 111 against South Africa - Tendulkar is at his resilient best.

Virender Sehwag, who has forged a strong opening combination with Tendulkar, explains why Tendulkar is the most feared player by the opponent.

"His presence is so imposing that the opposition teams forget that there are other players in the Indian team. The opposition is so fixed in getting him out. He is a great motivation for the youngsters," Virender Sehwag said.

Gautam Gambhir knows the importance of having Tendulkar around. "Which team has a player who has played in six World Cups. He is an asset to the side."

Each of Tendulkar's innings is followed closely by his peers. "Sachin scores another century. Respect to the man..." tweeted Australian Shane Watson immediately after his century.

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