Man of the Match for the umpteenth time

HE must have run out of space, storing the Man of the Match trophies won over the years. But knowing Sachin Tendulkar, he would not mind acquiring a storehouse for the purpose. For he still has many more years of cricket left in him and many more trophies to be added to his collection.

What strikes one most is his humility. When you ask him about his knock, Tendulkar talks of V. V. S. Laxman's brilliance. "He was too good,'' he says. A man who himself makes batting look so easy admires Laxman from the other end. He gives the impression of being happy essentially because Laxman too gets runs.

The desire to score more and more is what sets Tendulkar apart. His determination is unbelievable and his second fifty contained just one six. It was not that he was playing for his century. He was, as always, playing for his team.

"My aim was to just hang in there and allow batsmen around me to play their natural game. It was important for me to bat till the end and in any case the pitch had become slow and they were bowling tight. Sometimes you have to make minor adjustments,'' said Tendulkar.

Minor adjustments, yes, but his focus remained fierce. These days, Tendulkar has cut out some strokes, the punch for example, in the interests of the team.

Tendulkar's century, his 35th in one-day internationals and seventh against Australia, was well-timed. There had been worries about his loss of form after the failure in the Tests against New Zealand but the master chose to speak through his bat. The century was a delight no doubt.

"I wanted to play a big innings because this is the start of the tri-series,'' said Tendulkar and he did not let his fans down. He saw Virender Sehwag fall cheaply but in Laxman he found just the right partner. They ran the singles splendidly and inspired each other to play entertaining innings.

Tendulkar did not encourage any suggestions that he was on a revenge mission against an opposition which had thrashed India soundly twice in the last World Cup. "I always look ahead and there's no need to play rash strokes just for the sake of playing shots,'' he said of his game plan as he played the ball on merit and hit his first century at the Roop Singh Stadium.

The Man of the Match award was a befitting honour for his work even though Laxman too could have had a share of the limelight. Tendulkar was Man of the Match but Laxman, with his strokeful century, was not far behind.