Eleven signature shots of Sachin Tendulkar
1. Straight drive
Of all the shots that Sachin Tendulkar plays or chooses not to play, the straight drive has to be the one most pleasing to the eye. Sunil Gavaskar, who could play this shot as well as anyone, doesn’t get tired talking about it when he is in the commentary box. Sachin can play a straight drive dead straight or slightly to the left or the right of the bowler. To deny him scoring opportunities from this shot, over the years, the opposing captains started placing mid-on and mid-off fielders much straighter and a versatile player like him regularly took advantage of that by playing extra cover drive or an on-drive to the other side of these fielders.
2. Cover drive
A cover drive or often just a punch early in an innings is always a strong indication that Sachin is feeling good on that day. While people will remember him for thousands of exquisite cover drives over the years, they will also remember him for that famous innings of 241 not out at Sydney when he displayed exceptional control over his shot selection and didn’t play a single cover drive.
3. Six over point
If you are not already replaying in your head the six Sachin hit off Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup, go to YouTube and catch the highlights again! That one shot set the tone for India’s innings in that match which India won comprehensively. Just for good measure, Sehwag – who made no attempt to hide his grin at Sachin’s shot – played a similar shot later in the innings as well.
4. Upper-cut over the slip cordon
I am not sure if I saw anyone else play this shot before Sachin did. A shot off Brett Lee comes to mind when Sachin would use the pace and bounce and just glide the ball over the slips for four with immense skill and control.
5. Hook for a six
Sachin doesn’t play this shot very often but every once in a while, as if to just show his full repertoire, he will hook a fast bowler over the square leg or the long leg boundary. The thing to admire about this shot is how quickly he gets into the right position and under the ball and the bat speed he generates.
6. Paddle sweep or lap shot behind the wicketkeeper
To counter lack of width and straight field placements that he was often faced with, Sachin started using this shot in ODIs to accumulate runs and open up the field. Later in the innings if the field placements were adjusted, he would switch his strategy and play squarer or straighter.
7. Slog sweep six over mid-wicket to a spinner
Down on one knee and clearing a spinner over the mid-wicket fence is another shot (just like the hook shot off the fast bowler) that Sachin plays just once in a while. It is perhaps not as elegant as his straight drive but is a joy to watch and invariably takes the bowler by surprise.
8. Stepping out to hit straight sixes
In the early years of Sachin’s career, this was a shot that he almost played at will. He played it against both the off spinner and the leg spinner and could place it over long-off, long-on or mid- wicket depending on the trajectory of the ball and the field placements. This shot was on display several times in that famous innings where he took on Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed in ‘89.
9. Pull over the in-field
Yet another shot that Sachin played a lot in the early part of his career. He scored a lot of runs using the pull shot, though occasionally he fell playing it as well. No wonder he plays this shot more selectively these days – another testament to his continuous evolution as a batsman.
10. Square cut / drive
One of the two shots that are present in perhaps every innings that Tendulkar plays. What is most remarkable about this shot is that he doesn’t need as much width as others do to play this shot and he can always find the gaps through the in-field.
11. A flick of the wrists to square-leg
This is the other trademark shot that has produced thousands of runs over the years and continues to do so. The best seat in the stadium is at square leg if you want to admire how early Sachin picks the length of a delivery from a fast bowler like Shaun Tait to flick it to the boundary.