By the time India and South Africa face-off against each other in the first Test match at the Wanderers on December 18th, 2013, it would be 32 days since Sachin Tendulkar bid adieu to international cricket. The ODI assignment at home against the West Indian side, right after Tendulkar’s retirement, was a walk in the park for Mahi & Co., which means that they wouldn’t have come to terms with the kind of difference Tendulkar was making to every Indian side, he was part of all these years.
But, come the morning of December 18th, India will take to the pitch at the Wanderers, and Sachin Tendulkar will certainly occupy the minds of these newcomers in the Test side, many of whom are on their first trip to South Africa.
Irrespective of all the apparent attributes that were associated with Tendulkar, like his experience, his insight on the game, his sheer presence in the middle, what will be most unsettling for many of the Indian batsmen in that playing XI will be the ‘spotlight’, which followed Tendulkar right throughout his playing career and how it never affected him.
Any Test match that Tendulkar was part of, didn’t go ahead without a talk about the great man, either from the opposition camp, or the host press, the pundits all across the globe and of course, the Indian team in itself. So, it was this ‘spotlight’ on Tendulkar, that was comforting for other members of the Indian side.
Albeit people say that, Rahul Dravid played his entire cricketing career under the shadow of a certain Sachin Tendulkar, on another side of the coin, he was blessed with the fact that the pressure wasn’t on him, and the microscopic eyes all across the globe zoomed heavily on the little master, which meant that Dravid could focus on his business solely and was devoid of any distraction in the name of ‘spotlight’.
And the same effect of ‘spotlight’ will be felt by the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara, not because they’ll be playing their first Test series in South Africa, but it’s the first Test series India will be playing after Sachin Tendulkar’s days, and that’s where the real test for this magnificent trio kicks in.
So there you go my precious readers, the ‘spotlight’ that followed Tendulkar all these 23-24 years might not have seemed significant to you, but starting December 18th, not only does India play it’s first Test match post the Tendulkar era, the players who are part of that XI need to take on the responsibility of handling that ‘spotlight’ diligently and come up with the goods and believe you me, it’s not going to be easy.
Good Luck Mahi & Co.