An afternoon suffused with Independence Day warmth gained an added allure as Sachin Tendulkar had a nets session at the National Cricket Academy here on Wednesday and began his preparations for a hectic season.
By opting to train on a public holiday, the maestro perhaps hoped for some time away from the media bandwagon. However there was no way he could escape the spotlight and as journalists and photographers hung around, a lone fan too clung to the adjoining wall for a while.
Tendulkar last turned out in India colours during the Asia Cup at Dhaka in March and then he played the IPL before enjoying his annual European holiday. The two-month lay-off from the game hardly showed as he batted with ease for close to an hour against Zaheer Khan and a group of Karnataka bowlers.
In perfect sync
The feet moved, the hands followed and the bat’s sweet spot was in play again as cover drives flowed. There was the odd doubt when the ball nipped back but Tendulkar deftly revealed his mastery as he rocked back and played the dab-shot with felicity. The spinners were given the odd charge and then he took a break to chat with Zaheer.
He was not done yet though, and soon it was time to warm-up against throw-downs from NCA’s coaching assistant D.V.G.I. Raghavindraa. Tendulkar had two sessions of 20 minutes each and also discussed his trigger movement and the forward stride with Dinesh Nanavaty, who is part of the academy’s coaching staff.
Finally when Tendulkar strode towards the NCA office, he was asked by television crews about Independence Day and the Rajya Sabha MP replied: “This is the 65th anniversary and it’s a momentous occasion for us. Hope we keep progressing.”
And as usual there was no running away from the mix of memories and milestones that Tendulkar evokes and he was reminded of his first Test century scored at Old Trafford (Manchester) on August 14, 1990. Caught unawares and lost in thought, Tendulkar paused a bit and then said: “Oh! yeah that was way back in 1990. Coincidence, what else can I say, wonderful memories!”
Tendulkar will be at the academy till Saturday, while the first Test against New Zealand commences at Hyderabad on August 23.