Sachin Tendulkar's last Test: 'Little Master' can sign off with century
India's Sachin Tendulkar can crown his Test finale with a memorable hundred, says Robert Key.
Last Updated: 16/11/13 3:47pm
Tendulkar finished day one of the second Test against the West Indies in Mumbai - his 200th and last Test for India - on 38no, helping the hosts to 157-2 in reply to the tourists' 182 all out.
'The Little Master' already has 51 Test tons to his name but Key told Sky Cricket that the 40-year-old looks determined to bow out in style by adding another to that tally.
"Sachin hasn't been anywhere near his best in Test cricket for almost a year but that was just a masterclass," said former England batsman Key. "It was pure Sachin at his very best.
"He looked to score and be positive. He had a real go. The slog-sweep to get off the mark was a nominated shot that just showed all of his intent, as did the in-to-out shots against the off-spinner on what is a turning pitch.
"On another day, he's going to look to dead bat those balls but this showed the decision that he had made before he came out to bat about how he was going to be positive. That then helped his defence and he was as good as he has been for a long, long time.
"If he continues to play like that he's going to get a hundred - especially if the West Indies continue to serve up a few half-volleys!"
West Indies, who lost the first Test in Kolkata by an innings and 51 runs, looked well set on 93-2 at lunch after being put into bat but then lost eight wickets for 89 runs as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (3-45) and Pragyan Ojha (5-40) rattled through the order.
The nature of the collapse on a wicket taking appreciable turn only demonstrated the high quality of Tendulkar's later knock, said Key.
"It heightens Tendulkar's innings because we saw how that ball was spinning," said Key. "Dhoni was taking balls almost up by his head because it was ragging on that pitch.
"Sachin could have just sat there and thought 'I'm just going to look to hang around because it's turning so much, but he didn't.
"It's going to be a good contest on Friday because Shane Shillingford is a good bowler; he's no mug and he's beaten Sachin a couple of times. If Sachin does go on and get a hundred it will be a worthy one because it's a tough pitch."
Former England all-rounder Dominic Cork said that India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni got his tactics spot on in the afternoon session to give the tourists a good working over and set the scene for what could be another convincing Indian victory.
"It was good from Dhoni and India; they knew they were putting them under pressure," he reflected. "India are now in control of this game.
"It was a good performance but all eyes will now be on Tendulkar. Great players like him intimidate you. If he comes out and tries to intimidate you, he's very hard to stop.
"Great players do that - the Steve Waughs, the Allan Borders - all the greats have done it. Tendulkar did that today; he knew the crowd were behind him.
"India will be red-hot favourites to win. They will definitely win the game. We'll all be turning on tomorrow hoping for one thing - that Tendulkar gets a hundred. That would be a great retirement for a great player.
"You can see that this innings is captivating everybody. Even the England players preparing for the Ashes were tweeting about it. I think every cricketer in the world and every cricket fan - even the West Indies - would love to see Tendulkar get a hundred.
"I've been able to watch Tendulkar close up and I think we could see something magical tomorrow; it looks like the intent is there and the desire is still there."
See if Sachin Tendulkar can go on to score a hundred on day two of the second Test from 3.45am on Sky Sports 1 on Friday morning.