Speculation over Tendulkar's retirement downplayed

Mumbai, Nov 28 (IANS) The debate over the future of Sachin Tendulkar is getting intense by the day. The news of master blaster's discussion with chief selector Sandip Patil on his retirement flew thick and fast Friday, followed by equally quick denials.

While a media report claimed that Tendulkar had told Patil to decide his fate as he was out of form, a television channel labelled the conversation as a 'pep talk' by Patil to the 39−year−old. An unchanged side for the third Test against England at Eden Gardens was picked Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, BCCI official Rajiv Shukla said that Tendulkar's focus was "very much on the third Test", beginning Dec 5.

Tendulkar has struggled in the two Tests against England and last scored a hundred in the longest format in Jan 2011.

His long−time teammate Rahul Dravid has had his say on the raging issue: India need Tendulkar more than ever.

"India need him now more than ever. At 1−1 in a tight series, it's going to be very important for senior players to stand up and who better than Sachin to do that," Dravid was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

"I thought he was a little scratchy and looked a little under−prepared against New Zealand. Here, I know it seems strange to say after he's had three failures, but he's actually looking quite good."

"He's played a couple of straight drives, he's played a couple of shots that when I was playing with him, you knew he was playing well if he was playing those shots," he said.

India lost the second Test by 10 wickets in Mumbai after winning the first one in Ahmedabad.

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