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Look Who's Back

Am I simply deducing more than there is to be deduced from this performance? No, it wasn't scintillating like against Pakistan in the '03 World Cup. No, it wasn't belligerent like against Australia in 1998. No, it definitely was not as suave as the century at the SCG against the Australians in 1992. But, it was Tendulkar, scoring no less than 140 magnificent runs, in a way only he knows how.

India did lose the match, thanks to Mr Duckworth and Lewis. It must be said, however, that India may still have lost the match had it gone the full distance. Understood that RP Singh had a good outing in the Top-End series, but is he a better prospect than Sreesanth? I would pick Sreesanth over RP Singh any day of the week. Restricting batting sides in an ODI is heavily dependent on taking wickets. I firmly believe Sreesanth, although slightly expensive, is more capable of taking wickets at crucial times than RP Singh. Indian selectors have long favoured left-handed fast bowlers, its time they looked at quality first – but that’s another post for later.

Check out Cricinfo’s photos page for some magnificent action shots of Tendulkar’s innings. There is no doubting we will seldom, if ever, witness the same Tendulkar of 1997-1999 when he tore apart the best bowlers with consummate ease. It is stating the bleeding obvious that he can still set the ground on fire, only with a different approach.

Do not for one second think that I agree with his change to the steady, accumulation type approach. I honestly believe he represents more value to the team employing his original, ‘no holds barred fused with a lot of common sense’ strategy. Presently, the better bowlers hold little fear of what he might do to them, whereas earlier Tendulkar won this battle in the mind before facing a single ball. We all know cricket is played as much in the mind as it is on the pitch. Alas, it is increasingly obvious that he is unlikely to return to his old ways.

It is better for all us Tendulkar fans to accept the Master's wishes and marvel at his unmatched genius for the last few years of his glittering career. There will always be some things that only Tendulkar does best: the gun-barrel punch with the high left elbow; the flowing cover drive to a ball that was never really there for the shot; I could go on and on.

Welcome back Sachin. We have all missed you and the entertainment you provide us. Here’s to many more glorious innings that will be remembered for centuries to come.

Update: Short 1 minute highlights package of Tendulkar's innings from youtube.com:

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