By Sanjjeev K Samyal

Indian cricket has had its fair share of interesting stories to narrate over the years. A look at some of the famous anecdotes from the fourth era…

Tendulkar takes out cover drive to scuttle Australia’s plan

In a glittering career, Sachin Tendulkar came to know as a batter who had all the strokes in the book. He could also control his mind when needed. The best example of it came during the Sydney Test match of the 2003-04 series when he did not play a single cover drive in his 241-run innings. He mostly played shots on the on-side.

Tendulkar later revealed that it was not a preconceived plan to not play the cover drive. He said that he decided to forgo the shot after realising that the Australians were trying to play with his patience by bowling wide outside his off-stump.

During a chat with former India opener Aakash Chopra on YouTube, Tendulkar said: “It was not a plan not to play the cover drive. But just when I went and stood at the ground and saw that the Australians are trying to play with my patience by bowling all deliveries outside the off-stump, something triggered me and I wanted to show them whether I lose my patience or the 11 Australians lose theirs.

“I was tempted sometimes to play that shot but once I had blocked it in my mind, there was no question of me playing that.”

Tendulkar celebrates reaching a milestone during his 241* in Sydney. Getty Images

Baby Patel sledges veteran Steve Waugh

The great Australian captain Steve Waugh was playing the last Test of his illustrious career in Sydney. It was the fourth Test of the 2003-04 series, with India setting Australia a massive target of 443 in the final innings. On a spin-friendly surface, Australia were four down for 196. Waugh, the doughty warrior, was waging a lone battle to save his team from defeat. In an effort to disturb the legend’s concentration, the India wicket-keeper, a 19-year-old Parthiv Patel, the baby of the Indian team, told Waugh from behind the wickets,

“Come on Steve, just one more of your popular slog-sweeps before you quit”. The Australia skipper turned back and replied. “Look buddy, show a bit of respect… you were in nappies when I debuted eighteen years ago.”

Though it didn’t have the desired effect and Waugh saved the game for Australia with a knock of 80 before falling to Anil Kumble at the total of 338.

Why are you begging, Shoiab, asks Sehwag

During Virender Sehwag’s 309-run knock against Pakistan in Multan in 2004, Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar tried to unsettle Sehwag with a flurry of bouncers but his effort went in vain.

The frustrated fast bowler began to bowl short-pitched balls, which Sehwag just ducked under. To instigate the batter, Akhtar told him – “you have scored over 200 runs, I am bowling so many bouncers, at least hit one pull shot”.

He began to suggest Sehwag to hook with miming and gestures. After another of such suggestion, Sehwag loudly asked Shoaib – “Tu bowling kar raha hai ya bheekh maang raha hai?” (“Are you bowling or begging?”). Shoaib did not try that trick again.

Kaif’s parents miss their son’s heroic effort in Natwest final

In the 2002 Natwest Trophy final, chasing 326 runs to win, when India were reduced to 146 for five, no one gave them a chance to win. But, two young Indian batsmen Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif decided to not give up and proved everyone wrong as the Men in Blue stunned the England team at Lord’s with their amazing batting.

There is an interesting story from the one-day final. When India lost quite a few wickets during the chase, Kaif’s parents had also stopped watching the game and went to a nearby theatre to watch the movie “Devdas”.

Kaif, who scored a match-winning unbeaten 87, himself narrated the story later on a show: “I remember when Sachin (Tendulkar) was walking out after getting dismissed and as I was entering the Lord’s ground, it was a common belief that when Sachin gets out, India used to lose the match.”

“In fact, my parents went for a movie after Sachin got out, they went for Shah Rukh‘s Devdas, in a theatre near my house. They didn’t see their son play. When we won the match, the entire colony came to my house and saw the door locked.

“The crowd then got to know that the family was in fact in the theatre watching a movie, and the people there told them that their son had won India the game.”

VVS, Dravid brave it out in epic Eden Gardens win

The historic Kolkata Test of 2001, where Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman shared a 376-run match turning partnership to win India the match against Australia is part of cricketing folkore. But the superhuman effort by the two India legends was remarkably achieved with both battling serious ailments in the lead-up to and during their historic partnership.

Laxman had a severe back problem and with Dravid suffering from a viral fever in the lead-up to the match, there were no signs this would be the pair that would stop the Australian juggernaut.

“Rahul came into the Test with a viral fever and I was struggling with my back. The Australians were coming hard at us. We endured the pain and kept motivating each other,” Laxman later said in an interview recalling the incredible feat when battling cramps and dehydration the pair played from late on the third day to early on the fifth, and added 376 to India’s score.

2001 - 2006