Don’t forget supporting artist Karthik

Much has been and will be said about the new heights Sachin Tendulkar has soared in his ageing career with creaking limbs. But since this blog is about seeing stuff Between the Lines – in any case, I am lost for words to describe the 200 not out – it is worth pondering what took Tendulkar so long and now especially when he was certainly not fitter than he was, say, in the year of the Desert Storm in 1998.
It is good that he did and thankfully God, not the cricketing one, set the record straight by rectifying one discrepancy from his CV other than a World Cup win. But my question is what went right for him in Gwalior on the fateful day of February 24, 2010 that his 20 years, three months and six days since debut.
All I can think of – and that also answers the mystery of the missing World Cup silverware in his cabinet loads – is that there was no pressure on him to curb his instincts. Yes Sehwag fell early and on hundreds of occasions we have seen the next man either hunker down and break the free flowing style of Sehwag or throw his wicket away and add more pressure on Tendulkar. Remember a nation of more than 90 billion looks upto him to score a century every time.
That is where I think Dinesh Karthik deserves more applause than he will not just his 79 but the way he got them. The six that he scored in the ninth over to get the first one for India must have given more assurance to Tendulkar than to the batsman himself. Of course, the nature of the pitch and the small ground helped too but it was an effortless flick off the pads.
When Sachin survived a stumping chance and must be still having a few butterflies in his stomach, Karthik came up with another slog sweep in the 27th over for his second six while the Master was yet to start on his eventual three. It also allowed Yusuf Pathan to hit some big ones and eased the pressure that much more on Tendulkar to go about doing his own stuff. The big hits also meant less of running for Tendulkar. Small factors but important ones and Karthik did his part from the other end in that vital 194-run partnership for the second wicket.
Dhoni may have hogged the limelight at the end with his lusty blows but could not resist taking a single off not one but three overs on the last ball and letting Tendulkar take the strike!! He could have got impatient with him momentum stalled or Dhoni could have got out after hitting a six off the first ball in the last over and the rest could have failed to give him the strike.
But all is well that ends well so Dhoni would go in the short memory to have played the supporting role.
This one is for you, Karthik, the team player.

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