British Media Laud Tendulkar, Come Down Hard on England

LONDON, Dec 16: The British media were unanimous in their praise of Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday as they flayed England and felt for "reasons of compassion" the right team won.

Describing the first Test in Chennai as one of the most politically significant match in the history of the game, the media also noted that it was a matter of time before India became the number one side.

The Mumbai attacks and Tendulkar's emotional reference to it was evoked and it was observed that the final runs fittingly came from the bat of the little master who after the match revealed that two of the victims of the terror attacks were parents of pupils at daughter Sara's school.

"India are taking their game to a new level. By successfully chasing down 387 on a fifth-day pitch, the fourth highest fourth-innings run chase in Test history and the highest ever on the sub-continent, they appear to have banished their squeamishness for making tough runs," wrote former England player Derek Pringle in his column in 'The Daily Telegraph'.

"It was new ground too for Tendulkar, India's pre-eminent batsman during the first innings but rarely a dominant figure in last-day pursuits."

Pringle was also unequivocal in his praise of the Mumbai born and bred Tendulkar's ability to guide Yuvraj Singh.

"So often the quiet one, he (Tendulkar) cajoled, encouraged and generally advised all his subsequently partners, including the headstrong Yuvraj Singh, whose unbeaten 85 enabled the pair to add 163 for the fifth wicket," he noted.

"Sachin Tendulkar's heroic status will be implanted even more firmly on India's psyche after he dedicated his stunning last-day performance in the first Test match to the victims of the Mumbai atrocities," former England skipper Mike Atherton wrote in 'The Times'.

He also felt that England did the right thing to return for the Test series and the sight of a three-quarter full MA Chidambaram Stadium was a welcome sign.

"Sachin Tendulkar's outrage over the terrorist murders in his home city of Mumbai has been the most enduring image of the Chennai Test. His defiant words have felt like an address to the nation," the newspaper added.

However, it also took a dig at the pitch which according to the newspaper, was 'full of craters.'

"Their (India) victory should have been out of the question on a pitch so full of craters that it resembled pictures sent back from India's recent moon mission - perhaps the Indian government really did film an old Chepauk pitch and the whole mission was a con?"

The media, meanwhile, blamed England for losing the Test from a seemingly dominant position.

"England have only themselves to blame for losing after a near collective failure of nerve saw their dominant position crumble to nought on the final two days," observed 'The Daily Telegraph'.

Kevin Pietersen bore the brunt of Pringle's attack, who felt the skipper's field placements often defied logic.

"As an inveterate ball follower, Kevin Pietersen was complicit in this, shifting his fielders every time Tendulkar found a gap. A fidgety man, perhaps we should not be surprised when Pietersen's captaincy follows suit, but such fluidity can be unsettling for bowlers as it betrays the lack of a plan," Pringle wrote.

Atherton, though, was sympathetic towards Pietersen who lost his first Test since becoming the captain in August this year.

The former England skipper believes Pietersen, who played the first Test despite a cracked rib but insisted he will be fit for the second Test in Mohali, needs to confront a few problems.

"Pietersen has some problems to resolve before Friday, principally how England are going to take 20 wickets to level the series.

"James Anderson and Stephen Harmison were outbowled by Zaheer Khan and Ishan Sharma with new ball and old, and Monty Panesar looks woefully short of his best form," Atherton wrote in 'The Times'.

"Stuart Broad is fit again after a hamstring injury and may come into contention in conditions that will favour the fast bowlers more than Chennai, as may Adil Rashid, the 20-year-old Yorkshire leg spinner."

But Atherton felt question should be raised about England's on-field frailties after they let opportunities slip during India's second innings.

'The Guardian' too raised doubts about England's bowling.

"An England attack worth its salt should have won this match but instead the bowling performance was as disappointing as anything produced in the 5-0 defeat in the one-day series," it reported.


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