Adelaide:So far Sachin Tendulkar has had a modest run in the one-day tri-series and the master batsman is now working on tackling balls pitched outside the off-stump before India's Sunday match against Australia.
Tendulkar has scored 10, 35, 44 and 32 in his four innings and at least on three occasions he has let go an opportunity to construct a major innings in the middle.
As he chose to skip an indoor session for a change and strode out to the outdoor nets, surrounded by media men and fans, his advice to his "net" bowler, fielding coach Robin Singh, was as always specific: "Bowl on and around the off-stump".
Tendulkar is aware that the Australians would not be bowling him much on his pads. The home bowlers, as everyone else, are aware of his strength on his onside which could become an overwhelming factor in Adelaide where the square boundaries are noticeably shorter.
One Australian bowler who is a master of the off-stump line attack is Stuart Clark. As in the Test series, Tendulkar appeared to have conducted a particular practice session keeping the tall New South Wales fast bowler in mind.
Time and again, Tendulkar would leave the balls marginally pitched outside the off-stump as he tried to perfect his judgement on which deliveries to play and which to leave.
His instruction to Robin was to bowl him deliveries which gain height on the off-stump.
"Height, bowl me deliveries which gain height on the off-stump," said Tendulkar.
One-day skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni first waited for his turn to bat at the nets and then became enraptured enough to watch the little genius give a master class.
The footwork, the high left elbow at the point of a stroke, were all displays of technical virtuosity.
As Tendulkar's session lengthened, young Dinesh Karthik ventured to ask how many overs it would have meant in the middle.
"Eight or ten," was Tendulkar's gentle dismissal of the youngster's nudge to remind him of his overstay in the nets.
History's longest serving one-day player, the one with most runs under his belt, most centuries, most fifties, Tendulkar has had a modest run in the CB series so far. His four innings read 10, 35, 44 and 32 so far and on at least three occasions, he has let go an opportunity to build a major innings in the middle.
It wouldn't be long before he leaves the one-day arena but as is his wont, it would only after he reaches a major high.
Speculation on Tendulkar's one-day retirement has kept resurfacing since the tour of England last summer.
Neither his form nor any signs of dipping interest nor for that matter any fitness issue has warranted such a speculation but the word has kept whirling nevertheless.
Since the twin tour of Ireland and England in the summer of 2007, Tendulkar has turned out in 27 matches, scored 1232 runs, got out six times in the 90s and is yet to add a three-figure score to his 41 centuries.
He hasn't scored a one-day century for 33 games now, for over a year, a striking aberration in the game's most prolific
So the interest -- and whispers -- on the great man continued and it was admitted with high humility by a member of the side, yet to get a game in the series.
Suresh Raina, a highly-promising youngster, is still waiting for his first turn in the middle on this tour and one of the things he has done diligently is to watch Tendulkar from close quarters.
"It's a lesson to watch him from close quarters. The way he prepares, his shot selection, his technique is all a great lesson for us youngsters," admitted the Uttar Pradesh youngster.
One of Tendulkar's biggest attribute is his ability to keep doubts at an arm's length and remain positive at all times -- a quality which Raina seems to be imbibing so early in his career.
"I am positive at all times, I am striking the ball well in the nets and when my time comes, I am sure to succeed," said the talented southpaw who at the young age of 21, has already experienced the two extremes of playing for India and now cooling his heels for well over a year.
Raina turned out in 35 games for India before his run of poor scores showed him the door last January. He didn't score a fifty in his last 17 one-day innings and stated that he is now toughened enough to make the best of opportunity which come his way.
"I was left out of the team because I wasn't scoring runs. But I never stopped being positive and had a great run in domestic circuit. I am sure my time would come," stated Raina, a great attitude to have for a youngster as Indian team these days is populated with youngsters.
One who is not so young yet has an infectious enthusiasm for the game, Tendulkar is doing a great service to youngsters just by his own example in the middle as well as the advice when he has to offer from his wealth of experience.
His departure for the scene might mean one more vacant spot for a youngster in the team but his presence it seems at the moment has a better value for them.