Unbelievable, magical, miraculous… One can go on using adjectives, but nothing can come close to describing what Sachin Tendulkar pulled off at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium on Wednesday. Simply put, he became the first batsman to breach the 200-run barrier in ODIs with arguably the best knock played in this format.
While the innings gave spectators their fondest memories to take home from a cricket stadium, South Africa were so overwhelmed that they capitulated to a massive 153-run defeat to lose the three-match series.
In fact, the plot was lost when Tendulkar’s double powered India to a mammoth 401. It was then a matter of completing the formalities and South Africa fell for 248.
That a Sachin-special was in store became evident when he caressed Wayne Parnell to the cover boundary and then to the mid-wicket fence in the second over. What followed is now part of cricketing folklore.
Scoring a double hundred in an ODI is extraordinary, but more than the number, the way Tendulkar got the runs stay etched in the mind. Such was the class that it could be used as a batting manual for aspiring youngsters.
The first part of the innings was largely about caressing the ball through the gaps and the second was about raw power and ferocity.
To begin with, Tendulkar toyed with Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell, caressing them through the point-to-extra cover region on the off side and mid-wicket on the on side. Such was the precision that hardly any shot went to the fielders.
After the field spread out and left-arm spinner Roelef van der Merwe was pressed into service, Tendulkar executed the inside-out stroke to loft him over extra cover. When the burly South African fired the ball onto his pads, it invited a delicate flick to the fine leg boundary.
Once the hundred was reached, the booming straight drives and other big shots started to flow like an unstoppable torrent. Almost every ball flew out of the ground, leaving the bowlers staring helplessly.
Once Tendulkar had zoomed past 150, the crowd egged him on to go for the double. And the master himself wasn’t in a mood to miss out.
He reached the milestone in the final over with a single, sparking off hysterical scenes in the stands. It had taken him 147 balls, 25 boundaries and three sixes to achieve the feat.
For the record, MS Dhoni (68 not out) and Dinesh Karthik (79) also smashed fine half-centuries and AB de Villiers scored a defiant unbeaten 114. But on Wednesday, everything started and finished with Tendulkar.