You cannot keep Sachin Tendulkar away from the nets when his team is going through a serious practice session ahead of an important game. And, when he steps on to the field, his bats have to be with him.
Unlike his playing days when he used to alight the Wankhede Stadium steps with his pads on, helmet firmly strapped on his head, the protection gears in place and a minimum of three bats on tow, it was only his two ST bats and a pair of gloves that he carried on Monday.
His playing days over, except for the impending exhibition game on July 5 when he will lead Marylebone Cricket Club against Shane Warne-led Rest of the World at the Lord's Cricket Ground, Tendulkar knocked the ball for eight minutes, taking throw-downs from a reserve Mumbai Indians player at a vacant net reserved for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians' opposition under lights on Tuesday.
Feeling pleased with his knocking, the icon figure of Mumbai Indians joined the rest of his team. Team mentor Anil Kumble brought back memories of his glorious days by rolling his arm over along with the team spinners including Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha at the nets. Looking fit enough to even go through four overs required in a T20 game, Kumble was serious about his bowling, maintaining a steady line though the length varied. One could not help but imagine if Kumble was coming out of retirement.
Considering the current circumstances in which their key bowler Zaheer Khan has been ruled out of Tuesday's clash and his future in the league looking bleak, Mumbai Indians will not mind Tendulkar walking out to put those much-needed runs and Kumble to pick up those crucial wickets, especially when the team is at the bottom of the table with just one win from six outings and need to win almost every remaining game to keep their hopes alive of defending their title.
Coach John Wright read out a statement on Monday: "Zaheer has strained his left latissimus dorsi muscle. He is undergoing a thorough medical assessment and we are awaiting reports."
In simple terms, Khan has injured the region below his left arm-pit while trying a yorker with extra pace against Kings XI Punjab's David Miller on Saturday night, having to abandon his fourth over midway. Wright hoped that the injury was not serious and that it would not damage his international commitments.
Mumbai Indians will strive harder to extend their winning streak at their base against a side that was once captained by their own mentor, Kumble. RCB are on a song. The Virat Kohli-led Bangalore need to look no beyond their previous outing when AB de Villiers went berserk. That the side came for nets within hours of landing from Bangalore, when they could have chosen to take rest on their travel day showed how keen they are to surge ahead of Mumbai as the head-to-head record stands now at 7-all.
Even as the rest of the team warmed-up before taking to the nets, captain Kohli, who has had a mixed run this season, falling for three single-digit scores including two ducks, went straight to the nets and took strike. Feeling satisfied with his game, he was also the first to head back to the team hotel while the rest of the team went about their business in the nets.