When off-spinners have troubled Sachin Tendulkar through his career
Sachin Tendulkar has been out leg before wicket 63 times, the most by any cricketer in Tests. Interestingly, barring one hundred against Muttiah Muralitharan's Sri Lanka, Tendulkar has not gone past 32 in the 12 times that he has been out LBW to a frontline off-spinner.
It is debatable whether Sachin Tendulkar has been at the wrong end of leg-before-wicket dismissals in his long and illustrious playing career. However, the 'God of Cricket' is certainly not invincible when it comes to being out LBW to off spin. It was way back in 1989 when Tendulkar for the first time was dismissed in this manner to an unheralded Sri Lankan off-spinner Ranjith Madurasinghe. Nearly 25 years later, off-spin still troubles world cricket's most celebrated player.
Playing his penultimate and 199th Test, Tendulkar was adjudged LBW to Shane Shillingford by umpire Nigel Llong after scoring 10. The ball struck Tendulkar on his back leg and the replays showed that it would have gone over the stumps. Many feel that more than this 'controversial' decision, it is the way in which Tendulkar was foxed by Shillingford's 'doosra' that got the better of the Master Blaster.
Tendulkar is not a stranger to being out LBW. In fact, he holds the record for being out that way most in Test cricket - 63 times. Incidentally history suggests that it is the late spin on many occasions that makes Tendulkar fallible to this mode of dismissal.
In his previous outing in whites for India, Tendulkar was out LBW to another off-spinner, not once, but twice in a single day when Nathan Lyon got him in the fourth and final Test against Australia on March 22 in Delhi earlier this year.
If we go deeper into what the statistics say, Tendulkar has not gone past 32 whenever he has been dismissed LBW by a frontline off-spinner, barring a 109 against Sri Lanka when he was adjudged despite a Muttiah Muralitharan ball pitching outside leg stump in New Delhi in 2005. This suggests that if Tendulkar is the new man in to bat, the opposition captain has a chance to get him out if he employs his main off-spinner into the attack.
Twelve out of the 63 instances, Tendulkar has been dismissed LBW by an off-spinner. The list of leading off-spinners apart from Muralitharan, who have dismissed Tendulkar includes Pakistan's spin guru Saqlain Mushtaq and England's Graeme Swann. Saqlain was the first Pakistan spin bowler to get Sachin out LBW in the Delhi Test in 1999.
Interestingly, it was Saqlain's words of wisdom that helped Shillingford execute his spin plans in his spell of 6 for 167 in the Kolkata Test. Known to be the inventor of the 'doosra', Saqlain recently conducted a clinic in Barbados prior to West Indies' departure for India tour and revealed all the knowledge he had about the Little Master.
"I've told them everything I know about Sachin. I told them about Indian conditions and the pace you should bowl at. You can't predict what'll happen in the match. The Windies boys are more than capable of troubling Sachin. It will be a good contest," Saqlain told an Indian newspaper before the start of the Test series.
And it proved an excellent contest between Tendulkar and Shillingford. The former was initially at ease against the latter's discomforting off-breaks. Tendulkar even dispatched Shillingford for two back-to-back fours either side of mid-wicket on a second-day Eden wicket. However, the iconic Indian, who is shy of 16,000 Test runs by 153, did look a tad uncomfortable against the off-spinner's 'doosras'. When Sachin lunged forward, the bounce and trajectory would peg him back.
With Tendulkar's history of getting out LBW to off-spinners against him, his farewell 200th Test is likely to throw up an enticing tussle between 'God' and spin.