'Sachin's timing the ball differently in this innings'
Sachin Tendulkar had been under increasing pressure ahead of the series against Australia.
Back to back failures at home -- first against New Zealand and then versus England -- coupled with the fact that he isn't getting any younger (at two months short of 40), meant there were many questions raised about him prolonging his international career.
Moreover, in the first Test at the MA Chidambaram, he was forced to come in much earlier than expected. India had lost both their openers with just 12 runs on board, having allowed the visitors to get a healthy score (380) in their first innings.
But the Master Blaster yet again rose to the occasion, remaining unbeaten on 71 as India ended the day comfortably-placed at 182 for three, having completely nullified the visitor's early advantage.
Tendulkar, during the course of what was his 67th Test half century (16th against Australia), was also involved in two crucial partnerships -- 93 for the third wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (44), one that laid the foundation of the Indian reply, and another 77 for the fourth with Virat Kohli (50 not out), one that helped the home team consolidate.
While he has personified resilience in many innings during his illustrious career, this was one that was coming after a long time.
"Sachin when he got to bat, he was on the mark facing the first ball itself. He hit three boundaries in the first over he faced," said an awe-struck Pujara, the Master Blaster's partner for a majority of the day.
"He was looking positive," continued Pujara, adding, "I have not seen him in such a kind of positive mind set.
"The way he was timing the ball was very different."It was really a pleasure watching him play like that."
Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
'It was very important for us to build a partnership'
Asked if Tendulkar's approach to the innings was a radical departure from the usual, Pujara replied in the negative.
"It was only the way he was timing the ball that was different from what I have seen of him," he said.
The 25-year-old explained that his partnership with the legend was a key one in the context of the game.
"It was very important for us to build a partnership," said Pujara.
"During the partnership we were communicating on a regular basis and that was really important," he added.
The partnership came to a sudden and perhaps premature end, when a James Pattinson scorcher exploited the gap between Pujara's bat and pad. The young batsman was palpably disappointed at having failed to convert the start he had had.
"The ball kept very low and I was late on it," explained Pujara.
"I could not see the ball after it pitched and a result reacted a bit late," he added.Thankfully for Pujara, India didn't suffer any further damage on the day, thanks to Tendulkar and Kohli.
Image: Australia's Peter Siddle looks on as India's Cheteshwar Pujara and Sachin Tendulkar steal a run on Day 2 of the 1st Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday