Sachin Tendulkar is an under-rated bowler: VVS Laxman

Sachin Tendulkar's greatness lies in his batting, but former India teammate VVS Laxman, also considers the retiring legend as an under-rated and a clever bowler who has played his part in a couple of famous Test and One-Day International (ODI) wins.

Playing in his penultimate Test, Tendulkar caused the Eden Gardens to erupt after having West Indies' Shane Shillingford trapped in front of the wicket for his 46th Test wicket on Wednesday.

"Sachin is an under-rated bowler. I called him a man with a golden arm. He is a wicket-taking bowler. When he bowls, you can expect something to happen," Laxman said of Tendulkar.

"He has lots of variation. He can bowl medium pace, googly and leg-spin. He can turn the ball in a big way. His most potent delivery is leg-spin and if the length is right he can extract bounce from the pitch and that is very dangerous for any batsman," he said.

"Everybody knows what happened during the Hero Cup semifinal against South Africa at the Eden [in 1993]. He told then captain Mohammad Azharuddin to give the ball to him. So today, it was a masterstroke from Dhoni to give the ball to Tendulkar who did not disappoint his captain," Laxman said of Tendulkar who is playing his penultimate Test.

Laxman cited two Tests against Australia — India's famous win after following on at Eden in 2001 (remembered for the Hyderabadi's epic 281) and another equally famous win in Adelaide in 2003 when Rahul Dravid made a match-winning 233 — in which Tendulkar played a part as a bowler.

"In 2001 at Eden, time was running out and he took three crucial wickets (including those of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist) and along with Harbhajan bowled out Australia in second innings. Then in Adelaide, he took two crucial wickets (of Damien Martyn and Steve Waugh) to hasten Australia's fall in second innings. So, he contributes for the team both with the bat and the ball," Laxman told 'NDTV'.

Laxman, however, did not feel Tendulkar has been under-used by his captains.

"Tendulkar is primarily a batsman though he can be a very dangerous bowler. Considering his batting workload, I think his captains have used him judiciously as a bowler."

Laxman said that the Australians did not underestimate Tendulkar as a bowler.

"The Australians do not underestimate Tendulkar as a bowler. They gave respect to him and especially his leg-spin was a potent weapon on Australian wickets. That was evident in 2003-04 tour," he said.

Talking about the opening day of India's first Test against West Indies in Kolkata, Laxman said he was impressed by pacer Mohammed Shami who took four wickets for 71.

"I was impressed by the way he (Shami) assessed the situation. His seam position was perfect and his line was immaculate. It did not seem that he was making his Test debut today. It's is good for Indian cricket. The country needs young fast bowlers to come up," he said.

Asked about struggling Ishant Sharma, who was left out of the playing eleven, handing Test cap to Shami, Laxman said it was good that the team management considered the lanky Delhi pacer as a senior player.

"It was a good gesture and I think the team management recognised that Ishant is a senior player now. It's good for the team to have healthy competition."

He said the West Indies were to blame themselves for being bowled out for 234 on the opening day.

"No doubt about that, the West Indies did a harakiri and they have lost the initiative. They were in a good position when Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo having a partnership. But what Bravo [who was run out] was doing? You can't do that while playing a Test match," Laxman said.

There was a poor crowd turnout at 70,000-capacity Eden on Wednesday but Laxman said the stadium would be packed on Thursday.

"Wait for tomorrow. Normally, when India bowls, crowd is small but when India bats they turned up in large numbers. Tomorrow when Tendulkar comes out to bat, the Eden will be packed," he said.

About the Eden pitch, Laxman said, "It seemed the colour of the pitch is brownish and blackish, unlike earlier Eden pitch. I think there is a lot of black soil. Definitely, it will be on the slower side. The second and third days will be the best time to bat on and I think India will be batting on these two days."