| Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden on Friday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, March 18: Steve Bucknor took to his 100th Test, at the Eden, having apologised twice for poor decisions.
It will be appropriate if cricket's most experienced umpire tenders one more apology ' this time, to Sachin Tendulkar, given out caught behind off Abdul Razzaq despite the bat making no contact with the leather.
His dismissal (in miserable light) for 52 infuriated Sachin so much that he needed 'around 45 minutes' to cool off in the dressing room. He left for the team hotel a good hour after Day III of the second Test ended 11 minutes prematurely.
'He has received some awful decisions ' a few from Bucknor in the past as well ' but never before had I seen him so upset,' somebody who has shared the Team India dressing room for over four years told The Telegraph.
Significantly, talking to the media at his (and the team's) hotel, Bucknor more or less accepted having erred.
He said: 'I haven't seen the TV replay, but mistakes are going to happen' You feel bad whenever you make a bad decision. It could be yesterday, last year or even today' But life must go on'.'
Till late in the evening, though, Bucknor hadn't called Sachin to say 'sorry'. That's not the norm for umpires, yes, but he has already apologised on two occasions.
Sachin declined any comment, saying: 'I'm not in the mood to speak'.'
Actually, it's not a state secret that the Indians aren't comfortable whenever Bucknor gets appointed. 'He will uphold questionable appeals, but is reluctant to raise his finger when we're the fielding side' is how a well-placed source put it.
What's intriguing is that Bucknor and Daryl Hair didn't offer the light to Sachin and Rahul Dravid. It encouraged Pakistan to up the ante through Mohammed Sami and Razzaq.
It wouldn't surprise if, some day, Bucknor confesses he himself couldn't spot the late swinging ball.
Ahead by 14 in the first innings, India finished on 133 for three. The Test is wide open, but the advantage is going to be India's if the first session tomorrow sees no setback.
'We need early wickets,' remarked Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer.
Sourav Ganguly, the Team India captain, refused to 'predict': 'If it doesn't rain, we've got two full days' I'd rather not say anything now'.'
Bucknor was also one of the umpires (Dave Orchard being the other) in the last Indo-Pak Test here, back in February 1999, when Sachin's contentious run-out almost sparked a riot on the packed terraces.
Thankfully, only about 30,000 were present when Sachin was given out today. Moreover, quite sensibly, the on-trial video screen didn't show the replay.
'There could have been big trouble,' explained a spokesman for the company which has installed the screen.
Even with that replay blackout, word did get around that Sachin had been wronged. The crowd felt doubly deprived as he was heading for the record-authoring 35th Test hundred.
In the first innings, too, Sachin got 52.
Applauded during a felicitation by the BCCI on the first day, Bucknor was the target of barracking by hundreds who didn't clear the Club House-flanking stands till he headed for the umpires' room.
Incidentally, a senior member of the Pakistan squad agreed that Sachin had become a Bucknor victim, but added: 'Let's not forget Yousuf Youhana wasn't out in the morning. So'
Youhana, adjudged leg-before to Lakshmipathy Balaji by Hair, declined to speak about his dismissal. Yet, he felt the umpires' work is 'mushkil.'
That's exactly why the most experienced get appointed for India versus Pakistan face-offs.