All concentration, Sachin slogs hard at Eden

Kolkata, Dec 3 (IANS) Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who has lately been struggling with his form, was a picture of concentration Monday. He was slogging hard at India's net practice at the Eden Gardens here before the Test match against England beginning Wednesday.

A padded up Tendulkar faced all the Indian frontline bowlers barring left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. Pacers Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda and spinners Harbhajan Singh and R. Ashwin bowled in tandem as Tendulkar fine tuned his defence playing mostly straight bat shots.

With all the bowlers at Tendulkar's disposal, the other batsmen at the net had to be content with club bowlers with only Ojha as the saving grace.

Tendulkar practised some of his trademark strokes and also hit some lofty shots off the spinners, much to the delight of a motley crowd of school children.

As the other batsmen took turns at the nets, Tendulkar continued facing Dinda and Ashwin while coach Duncan Fletcher kept a keen eye on him.

After around 30 minutes, he walked out to another of the practice pitches in the corner of the ground and continued knocking down the balls thrown at him by Fletcher. He would pause for a while, discuss something with Fletcher and get back to knocking.

While his teammates, including the batsmen, did some fielding dribbles and catching practice, Tendulkar kept on playing at the nets. Later on he was seen chatting for long with Fletcher. Even as others took some time to rest, Tendulkar went on knocking. This time the team masseur threw the ball at him.

Tendulkar, who has scored a meagre 29 in three innings in the current series, will hope to bounce back and score a century at the Eden Test as his former captain and opening partner Sourav Ganguly has wished.

Addressing a gathering which had all members of the Indian team, Ganguly said: "Many stories are being written about the match. I wish all the luck to Sachin. I hope he scores a ton at Eden Gardens."

The four-match series is currently tied one-all.

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