Mohali: Coach is a confusing and alienating term for some in the Australia team set-up these days, especially those who turned up in Mickey Arthur's class without their homework. But it is drastically different for the raw and not-so-young pupils of the India team who see the national team as a finishing school.
It is not always Duncan Fletcher who greets them as they land at the training ground. In the Australia series, it is Indian cricket's real task master, Sachin Tendulkar, they all make a beeline to.
On the final leg of a glorious run, Tendulkar has taken on the role of a private tutor with zest. At the conditioning camp in Bangalore, Virat Kohli was glued to the batting great, hanging on to sage advice.
It has been no different since the series started. In Mohali, fresh from his brilliant 167 that helped sealed the Hyderabad Test, Murali Vijay was the willing student as Tendulkar walked into the batting net to demonstrate how to perfect his defensive bat swing. That work was put to use as Vijay made a soft killing, curbing his aggression to log 153.
As others celebrated Bhuvneshwar Kumar's third Aussie wicket on Sunday, Tendulkar was the stern teacher at the other end, this time explaining to Ishant Sharma what he must do to join the party. Shikhar Dhawan, after belting out the fastest ton by a debutant, spoke of Tendulkar's words of encouragement while handing over the Test cap.
But even the effort of the finest teachers can't help every student to come out in flying colours. He had long sessions with Harbhajan Singh, but he still found himself out of the playing eleven.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.