James Pattinson was not even born when Sachin Tendulkar made his test debut. Yet it is this wildly contrasting pair - almost two decades apart in age - that have taken centre stage in an increasingly thrilling first test in India's deep south.
The young express quick and the old craftsman. Pattinson, with a carefully rationed dose of explosive bowling, tore India's top order to shreds. Tendulkar, opening a time capsule of his exquisite best, steered the host back on course.
Test cricket's highest run-scorer begins day three at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday unbeaten on 71 and in sight of a 52nd test century. In his company is the stylish, next-generation Virat Kohli (50 not out). India, in response to Australia's first innings total of 380, has recovered from a Pattinson-inspired 2-12 to be in far more respectable shape at 3-182.
Tendulkar will remove a fair-sized monkey from his back - and send a heaving ground into pandemonium with 29 more runs on Sunday morning. He has not made a test hundred in two years, and is less than 60 days short of his 40th birthday. He had averaged only 18.6 against England in his last series; he was meant to be finished. He may have been written off a tad too soon.
The Little Master sure does like Chennai. At no venue has he scored more test centuries - he has five here and counting - so there was always the chance he would locate his mojo here. Ominously, his last test ton in India was against Australia, in 2010. Then, he went on to make 214.
It said something about the vintage touch Tendulkar has found that even Pattinson could not get under his skin. If the Indians had forgotten about the brash Victorian they were issued a firm reminder.
Two summers ago he made an instant impression against their all-star batting line-up, claiming 11 wickets in two tests, most memorably rattling the stumps of Tendulkar in Sydney. Injury has interrupted the 22-year-old's rapid ascent since but, three months after breaking down against South Africa in Adelaide, he was back and India was again in the firing line. Three wickets in 28 deliveries undid its top three - all of them bowled.
It took only eight balls for Pattinson to strike in its first innings just after lunch, theatrically removing opener Murali Vijay's leg stump with a 150 km/h thunderbolt and then, in his next over, coaxing with more sheer speed a spectacled Virender Sehwag to play on.
Used highly effectively by Michael Clarke in three-over cameos he returned in the second over of his next spell to crash a low flyer into the pegs of Cheteshwar Pujara, hitherto untroubled on 44.
Only Tendulkar could withstand his onslaught at its peak. When he stroked his first ball, from Pattinson, to the cover boundary, the fans went bananas. The next ball, louder still, as Tendulkar neatly caressed the Australian quick to backward point for another four. He finished the over - the same one Sehwag had been outed in - with 12 runs to his name, guiding the last delivery to the third man rope for good measure.
Clarke was out half an hour before lunch for 130 after surpassing Greg Chappell's Test aggregate of 7110 runs. It was the highest score by an Australian captain in India.
Australia (1st Innings - overnight 7-316)
E COWAN st Dhoni b Ashwin 29
D WARNER lbw b Ashwin 59
P HUGHES b Ashwin 6
S WATSON lbw b Ashwin 28
M CLARKE c Kumar b Jadeja 130
M WADE lbw b Ashwin 12
M HENRIQUES lbw b Ashwin 68
M STARC b Jadeja 3
P SIDDLE c Sehwag b Singh 19
J PATTINSON not out 15
N LYON c Kohli b Ashwin 3
Sundries (1b, 7lb) 8
Fall of wickets: 64 (Cowan), 72 (Hughes), 126 (Watson), 131 (Warner), 153 (Wade), 304 (Henriques), 307 (Starc), 361 (Clarke), 364 (Siddle), 380 (Lyon)
Bowling: B Kumar 13-1-52-0, I Sharma 17-3-59-0, H Singh 25-2-87-1, R Ashwin 42-12-103-7, R Jadeja 36-10-71-2
India (1st Innings)
M VIJAY b Pattinson 10
V SEHWAG b Pattinson 2
C PUJARA b Pattinson 44
S TENDULKAR not out 71
V KOHLI not out 50
Sundries (3lb, 2w) 5
Total (3 wkts - close) 182
Fall of wickets: 11 (Vijay), 12 (Sehwag), 105 (Pujara)
Bowling: M Starc 14-2-37-0 (1w), J Pattinson 6-1-25-3 (1w), P Siddle 8-1-31-0, N Lyon 14-0-55-0, M Henriques 8-2-17-0, M Clarke 2-0-14-0
- Sydney Morning Herald
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