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Sachin Tendulkar recounts Desert Storm, says Sharjah experience ‘incredible’

Sachin Tendulkar was the pillar of an Indian victory in the Coca-Cola Cup in Sharjah in 1998. Tendulkar’s belligerence won India the championship against a formidable Australian side

cricket Updated: Apr 24, 2018 17:00 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Sachin Tendulkar,Indian cricket team,Coca-Cola Cup
Sachin Tendulkar cuts a birthday cake with wife Anjali at a book launch function on Monday in Mumbai on the eve of his 45th birthday.(PTI)

Sachin Tendulkar has turned 45 on April 24 (Tuesday. And on the eve of this birthday on Monday, the batting maestro remembered his match-winning innings against Australia two days prior to his 25th birthday in 1998.

India faced a dominant Australian team in the sixth match of the Coca-Cola Cup in Sharjah on April 22, 1998. Australia had already booked their place in the final. India on the other hand had to beat Australia or keep a run-rate better than New Zealand. (IPL FULL COVERAGE)

They needed at least 254 runs to make the final on better run rate after Australia had put up a sizeable total of 284. But to add to India’s already formidable task, another strong challenge presented itself: a desert storm.

With India on 143/4 in 31 overs, a desert storm swept across the stadium. When play resumed, India’s task had become even more difficult. The revised target to enter the final was 237 runs in 46 overs.

Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Clarke and Ravi Shashtri at a book launch ceremony in Mumbai on Monday. (PTI)

Sachin Tendulkar recalls the rest.

“Talking about the Sharjah trip in 1998, it was a special one, a big one because it is something which happened with me for the first time on the cricket field. When I was batting there and suddenly I see this desert storm approaching us. It was like a Hollywood movie and the first thought that came to my mind was ‘Where is Gilchrist?’ because I thought I would be blown away and I was all prepared to grab him,” Tendulkar said during the launch of cricket historian Boria Majumdar’s book, Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians, in Mumbai.

CHALLENGE

“But all that happened and we went to the dressing room and the target was reshuffled and a fresh target was given to us. One thing that was going on in my mind was that we need to win against Australia because if we qualify for the finals, having beaten them in the earlier game we would get them to think.”

“We were staying in Dubai so the drive post match from Sharjah to Dubai, you unwind and go to sleep, it was almost 2.30am. The next day I was meeting Ravi (Shastri), my former manager Mark Mascarenhas for lunch and I felt I hadn’t recovered. In those days, due to lack to knowledge and lack of awareness the post-match recovery programmes were not given as much importance to be honest and this has happened in the last 10-15 years.

“I woke up in the morning feeling really stiff and I went out and had lunch with them and later on in the evening there was another official dinner. So there was no time for recovery as such and by the time I realised the next day we were going to the ground and it happened to be my birthday so all the celebrations happened and a number of cakes were cut and here I was out in the middle.

FOCUS HARD

Luckily, we got to field which I think was an advantage but at the same time the heat in Sharjah is so much that you want to come to the dressing room and put your feet in the ice bucket. When I went out to bat in the evening I felt mentally I was not quite there.

I was trying to focus and I knew it was all about spending as much time as possible there and then the rhythm was going to come back. It took about 5-6 overs and till then I was not at all happy with the way I was moving and eventually confidence is all about which part of the bat is hitting the ball and I wasn’t finding the middle of the bat.”

Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Clarke and Ravi Shashtri at the launch of Boria Majumdar’s book "Eleven God and a Billion Indians"in Mumbai on Monday. (PTI)

“I waited for my turn and eventually I played those couple of big shots of (Michael) Kasprowicz which went for two sixes in a row and from there on things started rolling the way I wanted and we ended up winning the tournament,” Sachin Tendulkar said of arguably one of his finest one-day innings.

Two days later, on April 24, 1998 Tendulkar would score another century to guide India to the title against the Australians on his 25th birthday.

“But what an incredible experience it was. That was one period where Australians travelled across the world and thrashed everyone. They were by far the best side in the world and go out chase 270-odd was a big ask but we were able to do that. When I got back also, the kind of reception that I received is still there.

“I remember yesterday itself I was talking to one of my friends and we were discussing about that single wicket tournament in Shivaji Park where I was there as the chief guest the next day so that buzz was such that Shivaji Park was completely crowded with cricket fans and that left an impression on me and it was all due to Sharjah,” said Tendulkar.

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 11:15 IST