Sachin Tendulkar’s Test debut anniversary – 5 of the best innings by Master Blaster

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Sachin Tendulkar’s Test debut anniversary – 5 of the best innings by Master Blaster

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Amlan Majumdar

11/14/2016

27 years back a 16-year-old shy kid from Mumbai with curly hair and dreams in his eyes made his debut in Karachi against India’s arch rivals, and he was blown away by another debutante—Waqar Younis. But, that was just the start.

That curly-haired teenager would go on to establish himself as one of the best the game has ever seen and on the anniversary of his Test debut, we take a look back at some of the most memorable innings Sachin Tendulkar had played in his illustrious career.

5. 119* – England v India – 1990 – Old Trafford

Sachin Tendulkar announced his arrival on the Test scene with this innings. A 17-year-old kid stood tall as more illustrious names around him faltered. He was wearing a pair of Sunil Gavaskar’s pads, and showed everything that the former opener had embodied in his career.

Chasing 408 to win in 88 overs on the final day, India were tottering at 127/5 with Eddie Hemmings and Angus Fraser making life difficult for the Indian batsman. When the all-rounder, Manoj Prabhakar, joined Tendulkar in the middle, India were 183 for six and there were two and half hours of the match remaining. Gooch crowded the bat and shuffled his bowlers like a gambler.

Hemmings dropped Sachin on a simple return catch when the teenager was batting at 10, and that proved to be the turning point of the game. The youngster went on to defy the odds and become the second youngest player to score a Test century, which later became third after Mohammad Ashraful’s knock against Sri Lanka in 2001.

Sachin peppered the cover boundary with his trademark punches off the backfoot as he batted for 224 minutes and hit 17 boundaries to remain unbeaten at 119 and deny the hosts a victory.

4. 241* – Australia v India – 2004 – Sydney

This match was supposed to be about Steve Waugh. It was his farewell Test, and the buildup to the game was a homage to one of the best captains the game had ever seen. However, India hijacked this match, drew the game and maintained their hold on the Border-Gavaskar trophy. The Sydney crowd, who were in the stands in numbers to watch Steve Waugh bat for one last time, were mostly treated to him shouting instructions from mid-off. He did have his moment in Australia’s second innings, but this game will be remembered for what Sachin Tendulkar did in the first.

Ironically, it was not about the shots he played during his knock of 241 not out, as India batted Australia out of the game with a total of 705 in the first innings, it was about the shots he did not. Sachin was under a lot of pressure to perform heading into this game. His form was raising a lot of questions and the Australians seemed to have found a way to tame the man who has haunted them throughout his career.

Steve Waugh opted for a 7-2 field. The strategy was clear – pack the offside, bowl outside the off-stump and Sachin will find a way to get out. However, Sachin abandoned one of his most cherished strokes – the cover drive – and was tremendous discipline to wait for balls where he can score on the leg side. Sachin maintained that policy for almost the 10 hours he batted in the first innings. In fact, 28 of his 33 boundaries came on the leg side in that game as he went to score his 32nd Test century.

3. 136 – India v Pakistan – 1999 – Chennai

This Test had provided perhaps one of the most heart-breaking moments in Sachin Tendulkar’s career as he played on his best knocks. Not every good innings results in a positive result for the team, and Tendulkar has had his fair share of those knocks, but the manner in which everyone around him crumbled as Sachin battled acute pain to take his team agonizingly close to a victory over their arch rivals was heartrending.

This was the first Test between India and Pakistan after a gap of 9 years, and even the venue for the first Test had to be changed from Delhi to Chennai due to protests from various right wing groups. Almost 3000 police and military personals were deployed during the match to guard the visitors against any threats, while the both the teams produced a nail-biting game of cricket – it was tense both on and off the field.

Chasing a total of 271 in their fourth innings, India was left tottering at 82/5 after Sourav Ganguly was dismissed by Saqlain Mustaq. Leave alone winning the game, it seemed like India will find it hard to even draw the match at that point. However, Sachin and Nayan Mongia produced a 136-run partnership to take India close to a memorable win. Sachin battled a back strain to complete his century and by the time he was dismissed while trying to loft Saqlain over mid-off, India required just 17 more runs with 3 wickets in hand.

However, Saqlain ran through the lower order and completed his five-wicket haul as the trio of Sunil Joshi, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, and Venkatesh Prasadwere able to add just four more runs on the board. India crumbled to a 12-run loss, as Sachin Tendulkar’s heroic innings failed to salvage the game for his team.

2. 169 – South Africa v India – 1997 – Cape Town

Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Paul Adams, – this was the bowling attack South Africa fielded in this game, and almost expectedly, India lost the match by 282 runs. However, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar produced one of the most memorable partnerships in Indian cricket – perhaps second only to the VVS Laxman – Rahul Dravid partnership at the Eden Gardens.

Riding on centuries from Gary Kirsten and McMillan, South Africa posted their biggest score since isolation. When Azhar and Sachin came together at the crease, India had lost 5 wickets with just 58 runs on the board. However, the duo produced counter-attacking cricket to savour. Azhar batted like a man who had been freed of the burden of the captaincy as he scored 115 runs in just 110 balls, while Sachin, at the other end, batted with a bit more restrain. In fact, Sachin was the last man to be dismissed in the innings as he made sure that India avoided the follow-on. He hit 26 memorable boundaries in that innings as he and Azhar took apart one of the best bowling attacks on a wicket which was helping the seamers.

1. 114 – Australia v India – 1992 – Perth

The Perth cricket ground has witnessed a lot of memorable performances, however, most of them have come from the bowlers. The bounce and assistance it offered to the pacers (the current Perth pitch is a sorry reminiscent of its glorious past) meant every runs scored on this ground is worth its weight in gold.

For an 18-year-old batsman who had grown up playing cricket on the flat pitches of Shivaji Park, where the ball hardly bounces over ones knee cap, to adjust to the jaw-dropping bounce of the Perth wicket is a momentous task. And for that 18-year-old to score a century on his first visit to the ground, when established players like Kris Srikkanth, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, and Mohammad Azharuddin were struggling, against a bowling lineup which consisted of the brilliant Craig McDermott, the intimidating Merv Hughes, the nagging Paul Riffel, and in form Mike Whitney is something special—even for a player of Sachin’s ability.

Those back foot drives through the cover, the square cuts to the point boundary, along with occasional pull shots came together to paint something Michelangelo would have been proud of. This is Sachin’s most memorable knock, one which unfortunately ended in a defeat as Australia completed a 4-0 series win as India were bowled out for 141 in their second innings while chasing an imposing total of 442. However, the result takes nothing away from this masterclass.

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