Poll: Which one of these Sachin Tendulkar knocks in ODIs do you rate the highest?
Sachin Tendulkar played a total of 452 innings in one day internationals, scoring 18426 runs at an average of 44.83. On 49 occasions he crossed the three figure mark, even becoming the first cricketer to score a double century in 50-over cricket. He also scored a bagful of half-centuries, 96 of them to be precise. Over the course of his two decade plus career, Tendulkar touched the heart of every Indian, in some way or the other. Hence, there are over a billion opinions about which was the best Sachin Tendulkar innings in one-day internationals. After all, ODI cricket is what it is today because of the advent of the phenomenon called Sachin Tendulkar.
Indian cricket will forever be indebted to Mohammad Azharuddin for taking the decision to promote the boy wonder to the opening position. The rest as they say is history. So, as you stay put in your homes due to the lockdown, we have decided to put you in a fix. We have chosen five of Tendulkar’s most impactful knocks in ODIs. We are sure many of you will have a different opinion. You will be unhappy that we didn’t include the knock that you thought was more important or crucial. We apologise in advance. Choosing Tendulkar’s best knocks is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But we have tried. So what are you waiting for, vote for your choice and see whether the others agree with you or not.
While you choose, here is a small refresher about each one of these knocks.
1) 98 vs Pakistan, ICC World Cup, Centurion, 2003
India went into the 2003 World Cup with high hopes. A young team under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy was challenging the best in the world and India were expected to do well. Australia were still the hands down favourite but people had hopes with this team. After a slow start and some protest back home, the ‘Men in Blue’ turned a corner and started showing their true potential. By the time the juggernaut reached Centurion to take on arch rivals Pakistan, India were an in form team. A Saeed Anwar classic had ensured India needed 274 to win the match. A daunting task given Pakistan had a pace attack comprising of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.
But Sachin Tendulkar that day was in a zone. It all started with that trademark cover drive on the up against Akram in the first over. He followed it up with a six over thirdman off the express pace of Akhtar in the next over, followed by two back to back boundaries and Indian fans were living a dream. Be it the silken touch of the drives, the timing of the flicks or the brutality of the pull, it was a day when the cricketing gods stood and watched Tendulkar bat.
Cramps hampered his flow and Tendulkar was eventually dismissed two runs short of a well deserved century. But his knock laid the foundation for another landmark Indian victory over the arch rivals.
2) 143 vs Australia, Coca Cola Cup, Sharjah, 1998
For many Indians, this knock was an epoch defining moment. Sachin Tendulkar told an entire country that nothing is impossible. It was the last match of the round robin phase of a tri-nation tournament in Sharjah and India had two targets to chase. The first was to get to the final despite losing the match, for which they needed to score a certain runs to have a better run rate than New Zealand. The other was to chase down Australia’s total of 284 and progress to the summit clash.
Tendulkar was India’s lone hope as wickets fell around him. With India still far from their target the match was interrupted by a sand storm. What happened after that break changed the way India approached ODI cricket. Tendulkar came out all guns blazing and launched a ruthless attack on Australia’s bowling. His efforts took India to the final, but he failed to win the match for the team. Two days later though, on his birthday, he scored another century to win India the trophy.
3) 117* vs Australia, CB Series, Sydney, 2008
India under the captaincy of MS Dhoni was looking to step up to the big league in ODIs and for that they needed to conquer the best in the world. The moment arrived when India reached the final of the Commonwealth Bank series in 2008. The ODI series was being played in the backdrop of an ill-tempered Test series which the Indians narrowly lost 1-2. In the first final, India managed to restrict the Aussies to a below par 239/8 and this was a great chance to sneak ahead in the best of three finals.
Once again, the job fell on the shoulders of the maestro. Tendulkar shepherded a young Rohit Sharma on one hand and played some delightful shots on the other. He remained unbeaten on 117 as India chased down the target. Tendulkar would go on to score a masterful 91 in the second final as India registered their maiden tri-series victory down under.
4) 200* vs South Africa, Bilateral, Gwalior, 2010
By the time 2010 arrived, ODI cricket had zoomed ahead. The advent of T20 meant batsmen took more chances. The likes of Chris Gayle, Virender Sehwag and David Warner were front runners to scale mount 200 in ODIs. But it wasn’t to be. The man who brought about a paradigm shift in limited overs batting was to destined to knock this barrier down as well.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, far from his motoring best, became the first batsman in history to register an ODI double hundred. Poetic justice many would say but on the day Tendulkar was peerless. He hit 25 boundaries and three sixes and India scored a mammoth 401/3.
5) 163* vs New Zealand, Bilateral, Christchurch, 2009
This knock was another reminder of the fact that the master still had a lot of gas left in the tank. India’s ODI record in New Zealand wasn’t the greatest and this innings set the tone for a series that India managed to win easily. It was India’s maiden triumph in a bilateral ODI series in New Zealand. In this knock, Tendulkar targetted the Kiwi swing bowlers as he hit 16 boundaries and five sixes in his 133-ball knock. A 200 was on the cards but Tendulkar had to retire hurt as Indian score 392 runs.