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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Age catching up with Tendulkar
By Paresh Soni
BBC Sport at Trent Bridge

Sachin Tendulkar is given out lbw for 91 on Sunday at Trent Bridge
Replays suggested Tendulkar was unlucky to be given out on Sunday

Those who have flocked to see him perform over the past 18 years might have gone away thinking the wooden blade in his hand was more like a magician's wand.

But Sachin Tendulkar has never behaved or played cricket as though he is anything but a mere mortal.

Inevitably, age and injuries catch up with even the greatest of sportsmen, and so has been the case with Tendulkar in the last two years.

On day three of the second Test here against England he fell nine runs short of what would have been only his second century against quality opposition in that time.

It will not be ranked among his finest innings aesthetically.

In fact, it was a far cry from the imperious 119 he made as a 17-year-old in the drawn Old Trafford Test in 1990, walking in at 109-4 and taking India close to an improbable target of 408.

606: DEBATE

Then there was the quite magnificent 122 in a team score of 219 as India lost at Edgbaston in 1996 and the monumental 193 which set up a series-levelling victory at Headingley in 2002.

No, this was more a glimpse of what we can expect from the 34-year-old 138-Test veteran in his remaining years as an international cricketer.

On day two, with India looking to repel a fired-up England pace attack, the "Little Master" was struck on the grille by a short-pitched delivery from James Anderson.

It was not a new experience - after all he was hit twice and bloodied as a 16-year-old in his first Test series by Pakistan's Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Sachin Tendulkar batting at Trent Bridge on Sunday
Trent Bridge enjoyed glimpses of Tendulkar at his destructive best

However, this is now a man who seems more vulnerable than he was then.

Where previously he would size up opponents before subduing them with a glorious array of strokes, bowlers can land blows of their own with more regularity.

Those majestic shots are still there in his armoury, as he showed by dispatching Anderson and Monty Panesar through the covers in becoming only the third man to pass 11,000 runs in Test cricket.

But there were plenty of edges and occasions when he was groping uncertainly outside off-stump as swing and pace got the better of him.

That was particularly evident on a crucial third morning when Sidebottom produced a remarkable spell of nine overs - eight of which were bowled at Tendulkar - which cost only seven runs.

All of those were scored by Tendulkar, who managed only three scoring shots in that time, and was beaten repeatedly by Sidebottom.

606: DEBATE
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Now the Nottinghamshire bowler, as admirably as he has performed in his second bite at international cricket, is hardly in the express category.

But he smiled ruefully and put an arm around Tendulkar's shoulder at the end of that passage of play, as if to tell the great right-hander he had got the better of him.

It is about the extent of anger you can express at someone of that genius - you don't sledge the third highest scorer in Test history.

At his post-play news conference on Saturday evening, young India opener Dinesh Karthik spoke of the pleasure he derived when Tendulkar even called him by his name, while England bowling coach Allan Donald wore a huge smile when the Mumbai maestro's feat was brought up.

There is no doubting the esteem he is held in and the appeal he holds for fans and foes alike.

And, of course, he can still dispatch the wayward delivery with aplomb, as Panesar found to his cost on several occasions as India piled up a formidable lead.

But this is definitely more the veteran boxer evading younger opponents and landing canny blows than the front-foot aggressor of yester-year.

As his dismissal for 91 showed - a debatable lbw verdict in favour of Paul Collingwood - luck runs out for mere mortals.



SEE ALSO
Tendulkar's career in photos
18 Jul 07 |  India
Tendulkar faces calls to retire
30 Mar 07 |  Cricket
Sachin's glorious comeback
22 Jun 06 |  Cricket
Sachin injuries taking toll - Lal
19 May 06 |  International Teams
Tendulkar celebrates Test record
10 Dec 05 |  Cricket
India in England 2007
08 Jan 07 |  Cricket


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