London: There was anguish writ large on the faces of even the most ardent English cricket fan as Sachin Tendulkar yet again fell in the nervous 30s that has in two decades come to define his Test match career at the Lord's.
Tendulkar, who came to the wicket with the scorecard reading 77/2 in the first session of play on day three of the first Test, fell three short of his highest score at Lord's, 37 when he edged a Stuart Broad delivery to Graeme Swann at second slip.
It was an uncharacteristic shot from Tendulkar as he drove away from the body. It was as if he fell for a trap as the delivery, a full and inviting one, swerved away at the last minute. It was Broad's third wicket of the day and of the match. He had earlier removed the Indian openers, Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund.
It was an uncharacteristic shot as he drove away from the body.
While it's difficult to believe that the hype around the 100th hundred had not affected the master blaster, he gave no signs of discomfort or of the pressure. In fact, his 34 runs on Saturday all flowed from the middle of the bat and his timing was quite exquisite. But as they say one poor shot is all it takes and that's what happened.
Tendulkar, in fact, may have just dropped his guard against Broad a little because it was Chris Tremlett who had seemed the best English bowler bowling to him. Despite the fact that Tendulkar hit Tremlett for a trademark back-foot punch to the fence, the bowler persisted with a line that had Tendulkar anchored to his crease, something one doesn't see too often.
A couple of misses brought out the 'oohs' and 'aahs', but Tendulkar looked solid. His flicks on the leg side and his placement on the off were a treat to watch. There was a quite determination you could feel everytime Tendulkar took strike. But yet again, the phenomenon of the nervous 30s at Lord's struck and with it ended another attempt of Sachin Tendulkar to make his mark at the holiest of holies.
Let's not forget though that there's another innings to play. And even if he does miss out on the Honours Board yet again, Tendulkar's nervous 30s will always be part of cricketing lore at the Lord's.