| Ashish Nehra celebrates the wicket of Alok Kapali in Colombo on Wednesday. (AP)
Colombo: On the SSC turf, Sachin Tendulkar scored a Man of the Match award-winning unbeaten 82; off it, he probably made a bigger point: “Nobody” should nurse a misconception that, nowadays, he himself isn’t enjoying batting.
“That’s not true... If anybody has that notion, it must quickly be set right,” he insisted at an interaction with the Media after Team India’s jumbo (eight-wicket) victory over Bangladesh in the opening game of the Indian Oil-sponsored Asia Cup’s second stage.
If that was an aggressive response, Sachin even used an uncharacteristic word — “desperate” at the presentation ceremony. Later, talking to The Telegraph, he explained: “I didn’t mean I was desperate for a big score in the sense that word is generally used but, yes, I’m human and want to score big each time... Who doesn’t'”
Sachin had managed just a few (18 and 11) in the two phase No.1 matches. On Wednesday, therefore, his determination to get it right before the big-ticket games — versus Pakistan and Sri Lanka — was understandable.
“The wicket was slow, one reason why I adjusted from where I took guard, and felt it would be nice to bat till the end... Actually, I had the platform to do so... I did exactly that,” he pointed out.
In the opening session, of course, Sachin returned the second best figures (35 for three) after Sourav Ganguly gave him the full complement of overs. That definitely pleased Sachin, who revealed Harbhajan Singh is the one who keeps goading him to bowl leg-spin at nets.
“Talking of a match, I don’t mind bowling ten overs, but it leads to the skin coming off the fingers... That does affect my grip,” Sachin remarked.
After restricting Bangladesh to 177, the Indians got past that for the loss of Virender Sehwag (who, it seemed, wanted to end the game inside a dozen overs) and Sourav. More important, a bonus point got collected.
Sourav, who posted a natty 60 (100 deliveries, 3x4, 3x6) got out in an effort to close the match even quicker than eventually achieved: 38.3 overs. Towards the end of his innings, though, he twisted his right knee (for the second time during the day), forcing a hold-up.
Back at the Taj Samudra, however, Sourav maintained he was “fine” and parked himself before the TV to watch Pakistan’s annihilation at the Sri Lankans’ hands.
“At home, the Lankans are tigers...” he quipped, admiringly.
The captain now has two fifties in the tournament, the first being 56 against the UAE. “I’m not at my best, yet it’s good to get runs in an important stage,” he said.
While the Indians were satisfied, Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore was fuming.
“The boys keep repeating a mistake — not building on a start. And, in my book, that’s a recipe for disaster... For a batsman, one wrong decision means the end of his innings. Unfortunately, we keep making such decisions,” he commented, pretty disgusted.
Incidentally, sundries (37, including 23 wides of which 16 came from Lakshmipathy Balaji) emerged the top scorer for Bangladesh. Surely, the coach couldn’t have reacted any differently.
‘Swing is God’s gift’
Meanwhile, Sachin has paid young Irfan Pathan a rich compliment.
Speaking after the game, he observed: “Irfan’s swing is a gift from God... He should value it... Having said that, he must not be put under pressure and should continue to be supported if the going gets tough.”
Pathan, who has transformed the attack since his debut last December, finished with three for 32.