- India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day
Tendulkar exits for 74 in final Test
During the first hour, Test cricket had rarely felt so alive. With Sachin Tendulkar playing what could be his final Test innings, his legion of fans were put through the emotional wringer.
This whole series has been drenched in Tendulkar nostalgia, and every vintage shot he played today only highlighted what fans are going to miss in the days ahead. Every mis-step - like two attempted upper cuts off Tino Best - caused massive anxiety. Fans were uncertain whether they wanted Tendulkar to be on strike - so they could lap up a few more of his shots - or at the non-striker's end as the tension was close to unbearable when he batted.
The assuredness with which Tendulkar played had made it seem inevitable that there would be a fairytale century in his final Test. You'd think the year-long wait for the 100th hundred would have taught Indian fans to be wary about expecting fairytale Tendulkar centuries. Clearly they hadn't, and like at the Wankhede in 2011, a slip catch from Darren Sammy cut short Tendulkar's innings on 74 and stunned an expectant crowd into silence. The mute-button was on only for a few moments though, as the crowd regained its voice to appreciatively roar Tendulkar off the field. Tendulkar muttered a few words to himself, but as has been the case over virtually his entire career, he maintained his poise after being dismissed, acknowledging the adoring crowds as he trudged off.
His partner for the entire innings was Cheteshwar Pujara, who perhaps would have been more worried about not making a wrong call to run Tendulkar out and risking the wrath of Wankhede than about the challenge posed by the ineffectual West Indies attack. Pujara's every single was cheered with the fervour that usually accompanies centuries, and he remained mostly under the radar. When he played the straight drive for four, you were reminded - unfairly for Pujara - about how much more pristine and non-violent the shot was when Tendulkar played it.
Still, it was a cracking innings, full of controlled aggression. He pounced on the width routinely provided, adroitly playing the cut past point, as he kept he run-rate brisk. His one moment of fortune - thanks to a frankly awful decision from the third umpire - was when he was adjudged not out on 76, though replays clearly showed Kieran Powell's fingers under the ball as he grasped a chance at short leg.
Pujara wasn't perturbed by all the emotion over Tendulkar's dismissal, and continued his march towards another century. And Kohli struck a series of boundaries, but even the graceful shots of Indian cricket's current darling provided meagre comfort for a despondent crowd. And it remains to be seen whether the array of celebrities who came on to watch the Tendulkar show will stick on for the rest of the action.