5 of the most innovative tactics that were employed as a stopgap solution

#5 Sachin Tendulkar’s way of reading the reverse swing

Sachin Tendulkar
They are the most successful duo in Test history

In the first Test match between India and New Zealand in 1999, India found themselves reeling, having scored only 83 in the first innings, conceding New Zealand a lead of 132. Batting for the second time in the Test, the Indian batsmen were put into trouble by Chris Cairns’s reverse swing.

It was India’s ace batsmen Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar who were in the middle but Cairns’s reverse swing managed to beat their bat two-three times in an over. “The surface was such that it became difficult to figure out which side is the shiny side”, said Sachin Tendulkar in an interview.

Rahul Dravid at the striker’s end was struggling to make peace with the reverse swinging ball and Sachin at the non-striker’s end had a bulb lighting up above his head with a fresh idea. He walked up to Dravid and told him that he had an idea to tackle Chris Cairns.

Sachin would be standing closer to the bowler and hence, would be able to see where the shinier side is. The ploy was to place the bat on the right side, if the shinier side is in the right or place the bat in the left, if the shinier side is in the left. Thus, Rahul Dravid at the striker’s end would get a hint on which way the ball is likely to move.

This became an instant hit as Dravid started bashing Cairns through the covers. The sudden ability of Dravid to read the reverse swing, confounded Chris Cairns. Dravid’s gaze at Sachin when batting instead of focusing on the bowler, and Sachin shuttling the bat between his hands were conspicuous and prominent that the bowler took note of it.

The next ball, Cairns bowled a cross seamed ball and immediately turned to Sachin and beckoned as if he was asking “What have you got for this”.

The little master had told Dravid that if he was not sure about the position of the shinier side of the ball, the bat would be kept in the middle. Such was the ingenuity of the ploy that both Dravid and Sachin went onto score a century each as the visitors were set a target of 374. The game ended up in a draw, eventually.

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