Tendulkar sets the pace at Ranji Trophy practice

Mumbai, Nov. 1 -- The clock at the Wankhede Stadium showed 9.30 when the Mumbai Ranji players trudged down the pavilion. They were greeted by the chirping of birds and clatter from the railway line nearby.

The handful of fans, who had turned up on Wednesday morning, let out a cheer as Sachin Tendulkar strode to the ground sporting his trademark child-like smile.

Set to play Mumbai's opening match, he was attending his team's penultimate practice session before they take on the Railways on November 2. The team started with a game of dodge-ball with Tendulkar as active as his younger teammates.

Soon after, it was catching practice, and in a while, the little master walked back to the pavilion to pad-up.

Taking guard, he was ready to face skipper Ajit Agarkar, left-arm tweaker Iqbal Abdulla and Zaheer Khan, who had skipped warm-up for a session with the physio.

After starting with a drive and flick, an Agarkar delivery caught the edge of his bat, but the sweet sound of bat middling the ball followed.

Then, Abdullah was lofted into the stands on a couple of occasions.

The barrage of straight drives and cuts were disrupted as Zaheer got the better of Tendulkar by sneaking in one which hit the leg and middle stump.

But, it was back to the same treatment from Tendulkar, who kept interacting with Agarkar and Zaheer at regular intervals.

The batting session lasted almost an hour, and he returned to the pavilion to a final hurrah from the crowd, which had been thoroughly entertained.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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