There’s a discomfiting sense of awareness among Chennai’s cricket faithfuls that this could be the last time Sachin Tendulkar may be playing a Test match in the city — where he has played many a memorable innings.
So, although Tendulkar didn’t bat on Thursday, the fans didn’t let go of any opportunity to cheer him. Every time he made contact with the ball, the crowd hollered in approval.
The great man was posted in the deep, either at fine leg or long on, for the most part of the second and third sessions. Unsurprisingly, people gathered near the iron fence that cordons off the spectators from the ground and let rip the famous ‘Sachin….Sachin’ chants.
Tendulkar waved back at them on a few occasions, making their day unforgettable.
There is nary a doubt that the decibel levels will soar higher when the Little Master walks out to bat over the weekend.
Harbhajan Singh was greeted with a round of applause at the press conference on Thursday as soon as it was announced that he was to feature in the Chennai Test match, his 100th.
“Pehli baar mere liye press conference mein taaliyaan baji hai…thank you us ke liye (This is the first time people have clapped for me at a press conference. Thanks for that),” he said with a smile.
As the 33-year-old led the Indian team out onto the field on Friday, the first morning of the Test match, the thinly-populated crowd at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium cranked up its vocal chords to give him a mightier ovation.
It didn’t, however, work out that well for him with the ball. Harbhajan was drafted into the attack as early as in the sixth over.
Although he began well, bowling slower through the air, he tapered off. Consequently, wickets remained elusive.
Harbhajan even switched to the Wallajah Road end that fetched fellow offie R. Ashwin five wickets.
Tendulkar was seen having a word with Harbhajan but that didn’t materialise into anything tangible.
He ended the day with figures of 19-1-70-0. The ‘Turbanator’ will hope for a change in fortunes in the coming days.
Clash of the debutants
Both the teams pitchforked a debutant each into the match — Moises Henriques and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
While Henriques’s inclusion was confirmed by the Australian team management two days ago, it wasn’t clear before Friday if Bhuvneshwar would play.
While the Indian seamer didn’t cover himself with glory on day one, conceding 48 runs in 11 overs, Henriques made an impressive 68 under exacting circumstances.
The New South Welshman, seemed pleased but “not satisfied” with his showing.
He spoke about his Portuguese roots after the day’s play. “I moved to Australia when I was one-and-a-half years old. I considered myself Australian and when my parents spoke Portuguese to me at home, I wasn’t very pleased. But I regret not learning Portuguese now. Like all Aussie kids, I played a lot of sports. The only thing I always wanted to do was play Test cricket for Australia,” he said.