New Zealand's seam bowlers couldn't quite bowl their side to victory over India in the second test but they might have hastened the end of Sachin Tendulkar's brilliant career.

Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult constantly posed a greater threat than their counterparts in Bangalore and no one had more difficulty against them than the great Tendulkar.

The Little Master was bowled through the gate three times in his three innings against the Black Caps in Bangalore and Hyderabad for scores of 19, 17 and 27, and now the critics are wondering whether time is finally catching up on the 39-year-old.

"From what we have seen in the last three months, he should have announced his retirement after the World Cup [2011] or even earlier," former captain Kapil Dev said. "It's important to know that every cricketer has his time.


"Having served India for 22-23 years, there surely is no greater cricketer than him. But he should have announced his decision to retire from the shorter format soon after the World Cup."

Tendulkar has recorded 51 test centuries with an average of 55, but has now gone 25 innings without a hundred in the traditional form of the game since his 146 against South Africa in Cape Town in January last year.

He has scored 100 international centuries but took a year to move from 99, finally getting there against lowly Bangladesh in a one-day international in March.

Tendulkar remains probably the most worshipped player in the world but even the most conservative newspapers in India are wondering whether it's time for him to call it a day. Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin said: "It is clear his reflexes have slowed down."

Some said Tendulkar's rare show of emotion in his latest dismissal, by Southee, when he lifted his bat in frustration but refrained from hitting the ground, is another key indicator.

However, all of this shouldn't detract from the performances of Southee, who secured career-best figures of 7-64 in the first innings of the five-wicket loss in Bangalore, or those of Bracewell and Boult.

Though they have bowled together on four occasions since Boult's debut in the win over Australia in Hobart, the Bangalore test was the first time the trio have been entrusted with the responsibility of being the side's only seamers.

They flourished in the task, especially in the first innings, and there are others like Neil Wagner, Adam Milne and Bevan Small who have the potential to ensure New Zealand's seam bowling stocks are a strength of the side for the next decade.

New coach Mike Hesson gave a nod to their dominance over the Little Master when saying: "Those guys don't back down to anybody. They took on some players with some really fearsome records, in the sub-continent where a lot of bowlers have gone home with their tails between their legs.

"Those guys stood up and I thought they were outstanding."

Outgoing bowling coach Damien Wright was effusive in his praise for Bracewell, 21, and Boult, 23, even invoking the name of New Zealand's greatest when discussing their technical aptitude.

"You talk all the time about the group hitting the right areas but it comes down to technique to be able to execute that. Hadlee comes to mind - his technique was sound, he had a great action and a repeatable action.

"In particular, I think Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell have been the two who have been pretty consistent at doing that."