Tendulkar's thirst for runs continues
It was the first time he stepped on the field since he announced his retirement from One-Day Internationals, ahead of the home series against Pakistan.
It was his first match since the Test series against England, in which he scored a paltry 112 runs in four matches -- at a measly 18.67 -- and witnessed his team suffer a humiliating home defeat.
It was his first Ranji Trophy game in two months, since Mumbai's opener against Railways. The star batsman had made himself unavailable for Mumbai's last group match against Gujarat -- at the DY Patil stadium -- last week, preferring to go on a family holiday instead. He had, however, pledged to play in the knock-out phase should the team qualify.
And Sachin Tendulkar didn't disappoint on his return, scoring a well-crafted, even though not spectacular, 108 against Baroda in the opening day of the quarter-final clash at the Wankhede stadium on Sunday.
The hundred was the Master Blaster's second in as many innings in the competition this season following his 137 against Railways at the same venue.
Tendulkar's 233-ball knock was inclusive of 10 boundaries and a six, and he put on 234 runs (in427 balls) for the third wicket with opener Wasim Jaffer, to help the 39 times winners recover from a poor start -- the hosts were 35 for two in the 15th over.
Sunday's innings wasn't vintage Tendulkar
The latter also reached the three-figure mark, remaining unbeaten on 137, his 256-ball innings inclusive of 16 boundaries and three sixes, even as Mumbai amassed 272 for three at stumps on the opening day.
It was the 34-year-old's 31st Ranji century, equalling Ajay Sharma's longstanding mark.
Jaffer's impressive innings notwithstanding the focus was palpably on the Master Blaster. Under severe criticism following a vapid show against England, with many calling for his retirement and literally coercing him to calling it quits from one format, Tendulkar needed a substantial innings.
Not that he had a point to prove. After more than 23 years in the game the Master Blaster could be spared being a tad complacent, if at all. However, he did need to shake off the rust that had surfaced over his armour in recent times.
Sunday's innings wasn't vintage Tendulkar. Yet it was an impressive one considering he hadn't played in more than a month as also the fact that he was woefully out of touch before that. In fact, he looked very comfortable during the course of his stay at the crease.
There was quite a crowd to watch Tendulkar in action
The fact that Baroda's bowlers were lackadaisical and lacked the incisiveness helped Tendulkar considerably. The 39-year-old took his time to settle down, was mostly untroubled and occupied the crease for almost five hours.
He reached his century, off his 204th delivery, having been at the crease for in 262 minutes with a flick to the long leg off Ambati Rayudu that fetched him a couple. It was his second straight Ranji hundred and his 18th overall in the competition.
In fact, Tendulkar scored 10 hundreds and two fifties in his last 18 innings in the country's premier domestic competition despite being in woeful form at the international level during the time, speaks volumes about the level of bowling in India's domestic scene.
He was dismissed with just three overs left in the day, cleaned up by Murtuja Vahora.
For Ranji Trophy matches, conspicuous with empty stadiums, there were a fair number of people who had turned up to watch Tendulkar play. Suffice to say they were not disappointed.The fourth estate though was left in the lurch, as Tendulkar left the venue soon after his dismissal.