We all have our favourite Sachin Tendulkar moments; moments that make it seem like we are having a private conversation with him; moments that stand out as landmarks. How many times in conversation with your friends… has someone mentioned Desert Storm or the World Cup or the 175 or the 200 or the last over or the superb arm and how many times have you felt a wave of nostalgia wash over you.
As good as Tendulkar is as a Test batsman – his place in ODI history is even more special. He changed the way people approach the game; he changed the way India and Indians approach the game and in the end, he changed himself for the game.
We present a list of Tendulkar moments that left us wanting for more…
Playing Hero at the Hero Cup, 1993
Before we believed in Sachin Tendulkar the batsman, we believed in him as a player who could do it all – he was lighting quick in the outfield, his throws were rifled in, he could hit the most stunning boundaries and was super fast between the wickets. But to watch him take the ball was the last over of a close game and win it for India was spell-binding too. India put on just 195 in 50 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat first. In reply, South Africa were cruising at 106-3. It came down to 6 runs off 6 balls. And Tendulkar stepped into the breach. Fanie de Villiers was run out off the first ball and Brian McMillan managed just a single off the second. The strike came to Allan Donald. The next two balls were dot balls. Donald threw his bat at the ball but to no avail. The last two balls yielded just singles too. India won by 2 runs.
NZ, Auckland, 82 in 1994
New Zealand and Greatbatch initially came up with the idea of exploiting the fielding restrictions in ODIs, but it was Sachin Tendulkar opening in Auckland in ’94 that changed it forever. I would have been fast asleep in the morning but my uncle woke me up and I sure am glad he did. 82 runs, 69 minutes, 49 balls, 15 fours, 2 sixes, SR of 167.34 – Tendulkar had found his calling. Greatbach was a pinch hitter, Tendulkar on the other hand managed to do the hitting and then buckle down to play the long innings.
110 versus Australia at Colombo in 1994
Many forget that Sachin Tendulkar took almost five years to get his first ODI century. He also made 15 fifties before he reached the landmark. And once he did, there was no stopping him. It was a match-winning knock on a slow pitch – not mad but simply unstoppable. 110 runs off 130 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes. When it was done, we couldn’t stop shaking our heads and wondering: What took him so long? Some said that it was because he batted at no.4 or lower. But this was the moment, the dam broke.
The 1996 World Cup
This was Tendulkar at his finest. Or that’s what we thought – we hadn’t even imagined how good 1998 would be. It began with an unbeaten 127 versus Kenya, followed by scores of 70 against the West Indies and 90 against the Australians in Mumbai. Another ton against Sri Lanka in Delhi had a nation of delirious fans hanging on to his every move. He came a cropper against Zimbabwe (3) and Pakistan (31) but looked like the only Indian batsman who could have taken India to victory in the farcical semis at Kolkata. His final total was 523 runs at 87.16. Stunning.
1998. Mark it down.
This was Tendulkar at his best. Tearing down opposition attacks in a hurry. Crushing them at will and making even the opposition want to stand back and enjoy the show. The numbers he put on in this year were amazing: 1894 runs, 9 centuries (both numbers were never matched by him again) and 8 fifties too. This was when we saw him make mincemeat of Australia at Sharjah (Three matches and scores of 80, 143, 134). This was when he showed that if he decided something there was simply no stopping him.
Bristol, 140 vs Kenya
This was an emotional moment. India had lost their first match against South Africa and just before the second game, Tendulkar received news that his father had passed away. He rushed back to perform the final rites. Without Tendulkar, India collapsed to another defeat – this time against the lowly Zimbabweans. But then he came back and smashed a classy 140. After getting his ton, he looked at the sky (a habit that persists even today). It was a touching moment. He later said his mother had told him to go back to play for the country because that is what his father would have wanted had he been alive.
186 not out
India lost just two wickets as they went on make 376 in just 50 overs. Tendulkar 186 was his highest ODI score and it stood for a long time. This was perhaps a vision of the future too Tendulkar moving about it his crease and smashing everything over mid-wicket. He improvised. Tendulkar and Dravid claimed the highest partnership ever in one day cricket and Tendulkar the highest score by an Indian.
The Tendulkar-Ganguly partnership
No one did it like them. The numbers tell the whole story… 176 innings, 8227 runs, avg of 47.55 with 26 100-run partnerships and 29 50-plus partnerships. The next best partnership are M Atapattu and S Jayasuriya with 5,462 runs. They made a killing of the field restrictions. Tendulkar went after the bowling early and later in the innings, Ganguly would take over. They were never the quickest between wickets but found a way to make it click.
Centurion, Pakistan, 2003
We’ve heard Shoaib Akhtar say that Tendulkar used to quake in his boots as the Pakistani speedster would begin his run up. Tendulkar didn’t need to reply to any of that because we all saw what he could do in 2003 at the Centurion in the World Cup. He did not sleep properly for 12 days leading up to the 1st of March. The third ball of the second over of the innings—Sachin cut over third man for six, the fourth he hit through square-leg and the third was a delectable push for four—straight down the ground. It was billed as the match of the tournament and for most Indians, it was Tendulkar who made it live up to the hype.
Later, Sachin put it very succinctly: “I told myself, if I see it I will hit it.”
117 against Australia in Sydney, 2008
36 innings without a century; 38 ODIs in Australia without a ton and 11 ODIs without victory against Australia at Sydney. Tendulkar chose to play an innings of rare magnificence. He was slow to begin with – just one boundary came off his bat in the first ten overs but he was in the mood of old. This was Tendulkar Mark II. He did not go wild, he just got even. It was a knock that showed his ability to adapt to the changing times.
The accolade of being the first man to hit a double century in one-day cricket fittingly went to the best ODI batsman in history. He overcame cramps, the heat and tough South African opponents on the way to victory. Tendulkar needed just 147 balls and he collected 25 fours and three sixes during the course of the innings that gave India a massive 153-run victory. He got to his 200 with a dab to backward point. He had made history once again.
Do it for Sachin
To see the great player in ODI history never win the World Cup would have been a sad, sad day. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh and the rest of the Indian team ensured that Tendulkar would never wonder about what could’ve been. Instead, he experienced an unparalleled joy. To this day, it remains one of his favourite moments.