It was one of those moments in Bangalore that got overshadowed amid MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings' onslaught. Mumbai Indians were in pursuit of 188 runs to stay alive in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League against Chennai. Cruising at 47 for no loss in 4.5 overs they looked set to make the most of the fielding restrictions when disaster struck. Sachin Tendulkar played the ball to the off side and Dwayne Smith at the other end ran while the Little Master did not. The ball was thrown at the non-striker's end even as Smith and Sachin were stranded on the same side. And before the bails could be dislodged Sachin made a swift decision. He took a few steps forward to give up his wicket to keep Smith, who was looking in ominous form, alive.
Many critics might question his decision that as the senior partner he should have stayed on. But let's put things in perspective. Smith was smashing the ball to all parts and wreaking havoc on the Chennai bowlers. And, if that wasn't enough to win laurels for the Master Blaster then what followed definitely was. He walked up to a clearly distraught Smith, consoled him, and egged him on to continue hitting the big shots.
In an age when batsmen are known to glare and say the odd word to each other in the event of a mix up, this simple gesture from a legend served everyone a reminder that the gentlemen's game still has some players left to carry on its name and legacy.
Of course, Smith, eventually, perished eight balls later and Mumbai ended up on the losing side but that should in no way undermine Sachin's gesture. It showed that Sachin, despite being a player of the highest calibre, was willing to sacrifice his wicket if he thought someone else could prove more valuable to the team. Even Smith, despite his big hitting prowess, would agree that he is hardly a match to Sachin, but the cricketing great made him realise that at that particular moment he was the man for Mumbai.
The gesture holds a greater significance coming from Sachin for the reason that despite his achievements the man has time and again come under scrutiny and been accused of playing for himself rather than the team. This should answer many of his critics and appease all his fans.