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Feb 22, 2017-Wednesday
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Cricket is as much about mind games as it is about the battle between bat and ball. Trust Sachin Tendulkar to be a master of both. At a private event two years back, Tendulkar shared a story of how he had got the better of Chris Cairns by being at the non-striker’s end during a match against New Zealand in Mohali. The story might be old but it’s still gold. “I was batting with Rahul Dravid. The ball was reverse swinging and Cairns was beating us two-three times. We were sort of clueless because we couldn’t see the shine,” said Tendulkar. “I told Rahul ‘I have an idea’. I said ‘I am closer to the bowler and when he is walking back to the run up I would be watching him closely and the ball.“Whichever side is shiny, I will hold the bat in that hand. If he is going to bowl an out-swinger the bat will be in my left hand. If he is going to bowl an in-swinger, the bat is in my right hand at the non-striker’s end,” he said.“So that’s the only time in my career when the batsman is ready to face the ball, he is not watching the bowler but the bat in my hand,” said Tendulkar, amid applause and laughter from the audience. “Suddenly you see a couple of cover drives for boundaries, on-drives piercing midwicket and mid-on and Chris is like wondering ‘these guys were getting beaten couple of times every over and suddenly I am giving away boundaries. There is certainly something wrong,’” recounted Tendulkar. By then the fielders had got suspicious too because as Tendulkar admitted, “Normally no (non-striker) batsman stands facing the bowler. He would be facing the other batter. And then I would quickly change my bat.” The strategy worked. Having lost momentum, Cairns bowled a cross-seam delivery to Dravid. “Instead of looking at Rahul or checking what has happened there, he looks at me and said ‘what have you got for this?’”, said Tendulkar.“Chris didn’t realise that I had also warned Rahul that if I don’t know what is coming I’m going to hold the bat in the middle,” said Tendulkar, smiling as he was refreshing memories. “In short, it’s just being a step ahead of your opposition.”

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Sachin Tendulkar Rahul Dravid Chris Cairns India national cricket team New Zealand national cricket team

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