Sachin Tendulkar has been very generous when dealing with off-spinners, often gifting them his wicket on their first meeting — starting with Ashok Patel in 1988 on a spinner-friendly pitch in Rajkot to the slow surface at the Eden Gardens on Thursday when he fell to Shane Shillingford of the West Indies. The latest decision was, however, debatable.
Not to suggest any weakness in his technique, Tendulkar has given some ‘unforgettable’ moments to lesser-known bowlers, who have treasured his wicket, especially off-spinners.
He played some dominating innings against the world’s best off-spinners but somehow had a soft corner for them too.
In his second Ranji match, against Saurashtra, he fell to Patel and Virbhadrasinh Gohil snared him in the second innings. Tendulkar was only 16 then and produced two classy knocks of 58 and 89.
Delhi off-spinner Sanjay Sharma remembers his debut match in 1989 and debut wicket in Ranji Trophy. It was Tendulkar. “He was caught at long-on (by Bantu Singh) but then he had 78 against his name by then.” Sanjay added two more wickets in his 22-match career but cherishes that prize catch.
Test off-spinner Gopal Sharma considers himself “blessed” to have claimed Tendulkar twice in the latter’s maiden first-class season. “I remember the match well. I had him caught (by S. Khandkar on both occasions) at forward short-leg but I also told my teammates he will become a big player. He was too good even at 16.”
Tendulkar made Kent opener Gary Brown’s life happy by giving him his wicket on the 1990 tour. Brown never got another wicket.
Zimbabwe off-spinner John Traicos earned Tendulkar’s wicket when they first played in a Test in Harare in 1993 but the best was Ujesh Ranchod, another Zimbabwe off-spinner. He had Tendulkar caught by Traicos in the one-off Test at Delhi. Incidentally, Traicos and Ranchod never played another Test.
Llong, an off-spinner too
The Eden was stunned into silence when Shillingford won a decision against Tendulkar in the on-going Test, the umpire Nigel Llong raising his finger and creating doubts among critics on the ruling.
Interestingly, Llong also bowled off-spin.