On this day: Birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar hammers ton to help India lift trophy after heated run chase
During the 1998 Coca Cola Cup Trophy, Sachin Tendulkar was in supreme form. In what is regarded as one of his best innings, Sachin had hammered 143 against Australia in 131 balls, but the effort was not enough to win the match for his side. The match, which had seen an interruption due to desert storm, is still regarded as one of Tendulkar’s best tons, despite it coming in a losing effort. In the final of the same series, a couple of days later, Tendulkar found the perfect ending to the story.
On the back of Tendulkar’s sensational ton in the historic encounter dubbed as “the desert storm”, India had managed to scrape through the final against Australia. After winning the toss, India captain Mohd Azharuddin asked Australia to bat first. With a fiery middle-order partnership between Aussie captain Steve Waugh (70 off 71 balls) and Darren Lehmann (70 off 59 balls), Australia posted a total of 272/9 in 50 overs.
On his birthday, Tendulkar came out to open the innings with Sourav Ganguly. He started off brilliantly, keeping one end safe in the middle. In the fourth over of India’s innings, Tendulkar got a bottom edge on the ball from Aussie seamer Michael Kasprowics. It just missed the stumps and went to fine leg to allow Tendulkar to take a single. Kasprowics mouthed a few words, and Tendulkar, who did not used to indulge in conversations too much on the field, glared back at the seamer.
After a few overs, Tendulkar found his rhythm and put on a show. He went on to hammer 134 runs in 131 balls, with 12 fours and 3 sixes in his innings, helping his side win the match by four wickets, and lift the trophy.
Speaking at the launch of journalist Borja Majumdar’s book two years ago, Tendulkar recalled that he had been extremely tired going into the match, and was exhausted by the Sharjah heat when he came out to bat. “I went out to bat in the evening. Mentally, I was not quite there. I was trying to find my focus. I knew I needed to spend some time on the field and the rhythm will come back to me, and it took about 5-6 overs to get that. Until then, I was not happy about the way I was moving,” he had recalled.
He further added: “The confidence is all about which part of the bat you are hitting the ball and I was not able to middle the ball. Then I waited for my turn - then I hammered Kasprowics for two sixes, and from then on things started rolling. We ended up winning that tournament.”