From the attic: As Sachin Tendulkar is walking out, the online universe is agog with what happened 25 years ago, almost to the day, when two schoolboys batted themselves into the history books. In a Harris Shield semifinal played at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan in 1988, Tendulkar (not yet 15) and Vinod Kambli (16) compiled a 664-run partnership for Shardashram Vidyamandir to totally deflate opponents St. Xavier’s High School. Tendulkar’s contribution was an unbeaten 326, while Kambli outscored his friend with an unconquered 349. The match was played over February 23 to 25 and Tendulkar would have scarcely imagined that the very next year he would be taking on the likes of Imran Khan and Wasim Akram in a Test match in their own den. Nor would he have imagined that he'd still be at it - at the highest level - 25 years after that now-famous school cricket match. Incidentally, the day also marks three years of Tendulkar becoming the first man on the planet to score an ODI hundred - against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010.
Sachin misses hundred:
A murmur of expectation precedes the first session. Early morning queues for a Test match in India mostly mean just one thing: Tendulkar is batting. And when the mastero is supposed to resume 29 away from a 101st international century, the buzz is all the more louder. Tendulkar however flatters to deceive. He watches over a testing opening spell by tearaway James Pattinson but loses his wicket to the most unthinkable of bowlers. Nathan Lyon nails the great man with a conventional off-break, arresting his gradual progress 19 short of three figures. The ‘knowledgeable’ Chennai crowd may not get another chance to see another Test masterclass. But they should not complain for Tendulkar has already scored five tons at the hallowed venue.
The tepid triple-centurion: Ravindra Jadeja may have sneaked in ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Manoj Tiwary to the No.6 spot. But his bits and pieces skills are completely shown up on this stage – at least when he has the bat in hand. Jadeja is troubled incessantly by Pattinson, Starc and Siddle, his few scoring shots arriving against the straying Lyon. The ordeal ends when he shoulders arms to a Pattinson delivery only to look back and find it disturbing his off-stump. The 24-year-old has three triple-centuries in domestic cricket, but is in the side more for his left-arm spin than his batting ability. It's a matter of wonderment if the two wickets he took in Australia's first innings will be enough to keep him in for the second Test.
Motor mouth: The sight, and sound, of Virat Kohli launching into colourful language after reaching a landmark, after completing a catch, after pretty much everything, has become ubiquitous in contemporary cricket. On Sunday however it is pleasantly surprising that the Delhi batsman celebrates his fourth Test century with nary a foul word. After reaching his second ton against Australia, Kohli looks skyward, raises his bat, smiles benevolently, but refrains from branding the mothers and sisters of his Australian rivals with obscene labels, and suchlike. Maybe it is respect for the format – or the fact that captain MS Dhoni is at the other end – that holds him back. But don’t be surprised if Kohli reverts to his swearing ways no sooner as he gets into colored clothing.
Chennai’s adopted son: Forget about Jharkhand’s spanking new stadium. For all spiritual and practical purposes, Chennai’s MAC is MS Dhoni’s home ground. He is often accosted at the southern city’s traffic signals when he decides to take one of his superbikes out for a spin and the locals have accepted him as one of their own. Dhoni has rarely disappointed. He has won them over with two IPL crowns, two World Cups, and a dry wit that surfaces endearingly whenever a camera is not shoved in his face. The 30-year-old supplies Chennai with yet more reason to worship him when he amasses a record-breaking, unbeaten double century, his highest Test score and the highest by an Indian captain against Australia. Dhoni also overtakes Budhi Kunderan’s 192 against England in 1964 as the top performance by an Indian ‘keeper. And there are still those who question his credentials of leading the Test side?