Mumbai: Like in Kolkata, the build-up to the second Test starting here on Thursday has been all about one man. It may be a hastily convened valedictory series for Sachin Tendulkar, but there are still 15 sessions of cricket to be played at the Wankhede Stadium, and it is up to the 22 players to make sure the focus is on the job at hand despite the distractions.
India mauled the Windies at the Eden Gardens by an innings and, according to virtually every expert including Caribbean legend Brian Lara, it will be a surprise if the Test lasts the distance.
Their batting against Mohammad Shami’s reverse swing was woeful, and only Shane Shillingford made an impact on the Indian batsmen.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, though, rushed to the defence of his opponents at the pre-match press conference. “It’s not fair to judge them on the basis of one match. They have some really good players and some quality fast bowlers,” Dhoni said.
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The surface for the game looks totally different to the one in Kolkata. The red soil traditionally affords more bounce and carry. There is quite a bit of grass which is expected to be shaved off before the start.
“It’s still a little damp. One will only get a feel before the match tomorrow (Thursday),” was Dhoni’s assessment of the pitch.
His opposite number, Darren Sammy, said: “It looks like a good cricket pitch and we all know Mumbai is good for the first three or three-and-a- half days. So hopefully, we could play five full days of cricket.”
Dhoni is expecting a ‘great’ match ahead, largely due to the Tendulkar factor.
“It will be one of the greatest matches in cricketing history but as it is his last game, we need to keep it as normal as possible. There are plenty of things going around. We have done our best to keep focus at the right place,” the skipper said.
“I would like him (Tendulkar) to enjoy his last Test. As much as you want him to score a hundred, a double hundred or a triple hundred, you can’t guarantee performance. I would like him to enjoy to the fullest and may be get a few wickets for us. That will be fun as one expects some turn and bounce from the wicket.”
Dhoni said he hadn’t seen any change in Tendulkar’s body language.
“As far as doing anything special is concerned, we would like to keep things simple. As it is, everyone is trying to do something special. We do have a few things on our mind. But you guys need to wait and concentrate on the match,” he quipped.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.