The sound of the ball crashing into the timber is not exactly pleasant music to the batsmen. Particularly so, when the men in question are pushing 40. Is Father Time catching up with maestro Sachin Tendulkar?

When Tendulkar was cleaned up by Tim Southee — the middle stump was uprooted — on Monday, it meant the legendary batsman had been bowled in his last three innings.

Tendulkar, 39 now, has been done in by deliveries nipping back into him; he has not helped his cause either by playing across the line.

If he did not get on to his front foot against left-arm seamer Trent Boult in the first Test at Hyderabad, the Indian, reacting a tad slowly, played across the line against pacemen Doug Bracewell and Southee in Bangalore.

In his last 24 Test innings, Tendulkar has either been bowled or fallen leg-before on 12 occasions.

This has meant that the bowlers have managed to dent his defence.

Failing reflexes

Another great Indian batsman, Rahul Dravid, was bowled 10 times in his last 10 Tests; the mode of dismissal reflected his falling reflexes.

While Dravid, given his backlift, was a touch vulnerable all through his career to deliveries angling into him from wide of the crease and then straightening, the gap between his bat and pad appeared larger during the last days of his otherwise glorious Test career.

Dravid struggled down under last season, particularly when the ball seamed or swung into him. Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfehaus breached the wall time and again.

When a batsman is up against Test pacemen, even the slightest weakness brought about by advancing age can be exploited ruthlessly.

While Tendulkar could have pulled off the whip through the mid-wicket — off pacemen — in his pomp, he was now missing them.


Tendulkar will know best when to leave: McGrathSeptember 4, 2012

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