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Tendulkar under fire after Pakistan defeat
February 02, 2006 15:08 IST
Dismayed Indian fans launched a rare attack on their favourite player Sachin Tendulkar [Images] on Thursday, a day after India suffered a crushing defeat by Pakistan.
The hosts romped to victory by 341 runs with a day to spare, routing their traditional rivals for one run short of their worst ever defeat in runs to win the series.
The Indian batsmen's weakness against accurate pace bowling was exposed again by Mohammad Asif [Images] and Abdul Razzaq [Images], who helped rout the visitors for 238 and 265 chasing a massive fourth innings target of 607 runs.
Players are normally under tremendous pressure to win due to the decades-old political animosity between the two nations. With tensions easing, the focus was solely on cricket.
Debates in the Indian media were aimed at the failure of the formidable batting line-up after the first two Tests in Lahore [Images] and Faisalabad ended in high-scoring draws.
Youngster Yuvraj Singh [Images] hit a defiant 122 in the second innings, but none of the other players managed a half-century in the game.
"Tendulkar is over the hill. He should quit and other youngsters should take over," lawyer Sandeep George said.
"Tendulkar should go because he has lost his touch," engineer Vijay Ramaiah said. "The more he plays, he will become a liability to the country and himself."
The collapse only added to concerns that India's middle-order batsmen Tendulkar, captain Rahul Dravid [Images], Sourav Ganguly [Images] and V V S Laxman [Images] were all past 30.
Before the series, it was Ganguly who faced criticism over his form and fitness, but the spotlight has turned to Tendulkar.
The Times of India ran a front-page article questioning whether the all-time great batsman was nearing the end of his illustrious career.
"Endulkar?" blared a caption on a photograph of Tendulkar doubled over with his off-stump sent flying by Asif.
Tendulkar made 23 and 26 in a disappointing return to Karachi where he made his Test debut as a curly-haired 16-year-old in 1989.
Although he hit a world record 35th Test hundred in December, Tendulkar has looked way below his attacking best since he underwent elbow surgery last year.
Tendulkar appeared tentative in Pakistan, hit on his helmet by a Shoaib Akhtar [Images] delivery in Karachi.
His dismissal in Faisalabad also raised eye-brows. He walked after gloving Shoaib behind the stumps, though television replays suggested he was not out because his hand was off the bat.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar [Images] praised Pakistan, who rallied after Irfan Pathan [Images] had produced a historic hat-trick in the first over of the Test.
"What was utterly disappointing was that India could not even bat out the day and lost well before close on the fourth day itself," he wrote in his column.