You can never keep Sachin Tendulkar out in a cricket match. On Day 1 of the Eden Gardens Test against the West Indies on Wednesday, Tendulkar, playing his 199th and penultimate game, struck in his first over as the Caribbeans lost their way and were all out for 234. Tendulkar trapped Shane Shillingford LBW with a ball that pitched in line and did not spin. Shillingford was Tendulkar's 46th Test wicket.
Former teammate and NDTV expert VVS Laxman said Tendulkar was a clever bowler and called him the "man with the golden arm." Laxman added: "He is a clever thinker, street smart and out-thinks the batsman. It was a masterstroke by Dhoni to ask him to bowl." Tendulkar finished with figures of 2-1-5-1.
Laxman said Tendulkar was a "dangerous" customer if he managed to pitch the ball in the right areas. " He always wants to take the responsibility to do well either with or ball. Even today, he wanted to bowl," said Laxman.
With more than 200 international wickets - he has 154 ODI scalps - Tendulkar was more than a part-timer. Laxman remembers that the Australian treated him "with respect and like a regular bowler." "There was a time when he was a regular bowler and gave Indian several breakthroughs. With his mounting workload and injuries, he restricted his bowling. But at nets he would bowl to keep himself fit," Laxman said.
Eden has fond memories of Tendulkar, the bowler. In the 1993 Hero Cup semi-final versus South Africa, Tendulkar bowled the last over with the Proteas needing just six runs to win. Tendulkar had not bowled till then in the innings and he tied down the batsmen giving away just three runs to seal a two-run win for India. In the Hero Cup final, Brian Lara was in a punishing mood and looked set to take the game away from India. In came Tendulkar and produced a beauty which uprooted Lara's off stump, tilting the match in India's favour.
Come Thursday, Eden will want Tendulkar, the batsman, to perform and give India the upperhand in his final Test in Kolkata.