Tendulkar's not my 'bunny' - Anderson
Happy as James Anderson was to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar for a Test joint-record eighth time, he is not willing to call the Little Master his ‘bunny’.
Anderson had Tendulkar caught behind for 76 - the top score on a day India were limited to 273 for seven after winning the toss for the third time in the series.
The outstanding performer also snared Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin for figures of 3-68 from 21 overs on day one of the third Test at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
Anderson now shares the accolade of removing Tendulkar most frequently in the premier format with legendary Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who retired from Tests in July 2010.
Asked if Tendulkar is like a rabbit caught in the headlights when facing him, Anderson replied: “I wouldn’t say that.
“It’s a nice thing to have, and I’ll probably think more about it in years to come when I’ve retired and tell everyone that has happened.”
More important to Anderson and England, in the thick of a series level at 1-1 with two to play, was that Tendulkar was beginning to look especially dangerous just before he was out.
“It was a crucial wicket for us, and I was delighted to get him out because it looked like he was set,” said Anderson. “He looked a bit scratchy early on but I was really pleased to get him out when I did.
“He’s such a class player that, when he gets in like that, he can go on and get a big hundred.”
Gautam Gambhir, who made 60 from the top of the order, explained the difficulty of facing a bowler who is adept at reverse-swing and hiding the ball from the batsman in his run-up and delivery, so there are no clues as to which is the shiny side.
It is then all about reaction rather than prediction for the batsman, and Anderson has learned from Zaheer Khan how he could get that edge.
“It might have been the last tour here, when Zaheer did it a lot, and that’s when I started practising it.” added Anderson, who exploited an ageing ball to have Kohli and Tendulkar caught via edges.
“It’s proved to be a good skill - because when batsmen are good enough to see which is the shiny side and know which way it’s going, it’s a lot easier for them. So when you hide it, obviously it makes it more difficult.
“Once we got it reversing, it makes my job a lot easier to try to attack and get wickets out here, so I just enjoyed it as much as I could. We’ve had hints of it reversing in the last two games, but nothing like it did today.
“On the pitches we get out here, reverse is crucial for seam bowlers - because it keeps you in the game. This pitch is perfect for it, very abrasive.”
Anderson expects the reverse effect to continue all game, and Gambhir is confident Zaheer and Ishant Sharma will provide a stern test for England’s batsmen too.
“It reversed big, so if we can put 350 on the board it’s going to be a good contest,” said the India opener. “Zaheer Khan is a master of reverse-swing, so if he gets going it will be very difficult for England.”
Anderson, who bowled Ashwin with the second new ball, already appears to have put the tourists ahead of the game, though, and ought to have power to add to his tally both tomorrow and in the second innings - when Tendulkar will be in his sights again.
“I don’t think I’ve got a (particular) way of getting him out, or bowl better at him than anyone else,” he said. “It’s just one of those things that I’ve happened to get him out eight times.”