London, Sept 08: It was neither Andrew Flintoff`s pace nor Monty Panesar`s guile but Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar`s erratic judgement which soured Sachin Tendulkar`s swansong ODI appearance on British soil in the series decider at Lord`s on Saturday.
One of the better umpires around, the Pakistani umpire did little justice to his reputation today by giving two dubious decisions which totally derailed the Indian innings.
Ater Indian captain Rahul Dravid found himself at the receiving end of Dar`s decision for a duck, it was Tendulkar`s turn to be stopped in his stride.
Tendulkar had just managed a streaky four in the 16th over which clearly did not amuse England`s comeback man Flintoff. The beefy all-rounder pitched the next delivery fuller outside the off-stump, inducing a loose drive from Tendulkar only to see the ball eluding the bat.
Behind the stumps, the ever chirpy Matt Prior still made an overly ambitious appeal, claiming it a catch and much to everyone`s horror, Dar raised his dreaded finger that had Tendulkar simply livid. Television replays also showed it was only his bat clipping the pad that made a noise but Dar felt otherwise.
His knock cut short after a 46-ball stay in the middle yielding 30 runs, a sulking Tendulkar sauntered his way back to the dressing room, while the Lord`s crowd booed Dar for spoiling what was the Indian champion`s last hurrah at the game`s spiritual home.
The decision irked Nasser Hussain too in the commentary box and the former England captain criticised Dar for not seeking help from technology that was at his disposal.
Hussain remarked that people spend money to come to the ground to see players like Tendulkar play and it was surprising to see that Dar did not seek help from technology," he said.
Hussain may had his reasons to make such an observation as it was the second successive error in judgement for Dar. In the 14th over, Dravid had fallen to a dubious decision by Dar, again Flintoff being the bowler.
The strapping Englishman pitched it on back off a length as Dravid changed his mind, and dropped his bat deciding not to play the shot.
There was a noise again and Prior, England`s cheerleader-in-chief, was soon joined by his teammates and their vociferous appeal did manage to get Dar`s nod.
Given out for a duck, Dravid was aghast by the decision, for the bat had only flicked the pad and made no contact whatsoever with the ball. Dravid shook his head in disbelief and grumpily walked off.
For Tendulkar, this was not the first time that he had been done in by poor umpiring. On the contrary, his last tour of England has been marked and by poor umpiring decisions and often Flintoff benefited from the goof-up.
In the second ODI, he was one run shy of a hundred before umpire Ian Gould ruled him out caught behind off Flintoff after the ball had come off his arm guard.
Never the one to crib about umpiring decisions, Tendulkar had said "I guess, I have missed four or five hundreds in the last two months."
He also said that he has started taking such things lightly and erratic decisions only made him laugh.