It was probably six when I first came across the existence of a man called Sachin Tendulkar. My earliest memories about Sachin were with my mother telling me about the ‘Little Master’, as he was fondly addressed by friends and fans.
It was one fine evening of the year 1996 and everyone was glued on to their television sets watching some game, similar to the one we kids used to play with the bat and a ball. Busy with our own game, little did we know that the 1996 Wills World Cup was being aired. And then all of a sudden I could hear the entire neighbourhood shouting, screaming and applauding in one voice. People ran out of their homes, dancing into the streets and bursting crackers. We knew it wasn’t Diwali yet but it had to be something special. I asked my mother about it and she replied in glowing emotions that Sachin had just scored his first World Cup century. I was too small a kid to enjoy one of Sachin’s greatest innings but I could feel the joy in her and everyone else’s eyes. Five more World Cup centuries were to follow, hit by this man over the years to come.
Having to read about the ‘Little Master’s’ heroics, spread graciously over a period of 24 years raises my levels of admiration for him. Join us in reliving 10 of Sachin Tendulkar’s greatest innings.
CB Series Finals, 2008
In 2008, India played the tri-lateral Commonwealth Bank Series with Australia and Sri Lanka, in Australia. The Indian squad was well composed but the highlight of the series was Sachin Tendulkar, who was in a great form. The Indian team later went on to win the series. Sachin was the second most run scorer with 399 runs, behind Gautam Gambhir who had amassed 440 runs in the series.
At the first of the 2 finals against Australia, Sachin came out to bat at a crucial time when India was trailing behind with a huge total to chase. Sachin bagged his first ODI century in Australia and stabilised the game. He stayed there till end to lead India to victory and was later also chosen as the man of the match.
Asia Cup, 2012
The 2012 Asia Cup was being played in Bangladesh. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were to face each other to lift the cup. Pakistan managed to beat the in-form Bangladesh team and take home a win. However, the best moment of the tournament was when Sachin Tendulkar ran a single to complete a milestone century which was his 100th international century. This was also Sachin’s 1st ODI century against Bangladesh.
ICC World Cup, 2011
Sachin Tendulkar made his final world cup appearance at the 2011 ICC World Cup jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It was only the 5th match at the World Cup and India had already put up mighty totals on the scoreboard twice. India made a mammoth score of 338 for England to chase, with Sachin contributing 120 runs in 115 balls. Sachin Tendulkar broke the records, completing his 5th World Cup century, a feat never achieved before. This was also Sachin’s 47th ODI century and his 98th international century.
India went on to win the World Cup and lifted the cup for the second time after 1983.
ICC World Cup, 2003
The 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa once again witnessed one of the best of Sachin Tendulkar innings. It was the most awaited match as India was to play against Pakistan at the Super Sport Park, Centurian after almost three years. Choosing to bat first, Pakistan put up a whooping total of 273 runs backed by Saeed Anwar’s 101 of 126 balls.
India had to chase down 273 runs and a couple of more runs to win the game. Enter Sachin Tendulkar, who asks Sehwag to man the non-striker’s end and chose to face the strike. A 22,000 strong crowd was anxiously waiting for the opening pair to give India that much needed start, which they did. Sachin stayed at the crease and thrashed the ball all over even as wickets kept falling at the other end. Hitting 12 fours and a six in his 145 minutes long innings, Sachin Tendulkar displayed his class and gave India a stable chase. Unfortunately he fell two runs shy of another century however, the ‘Master Blaster’ had done his job and the rest was looked after by the following players. India went on to win the match and advanced through the Super Six.
ICC Cricket World Cup, 1999
India was kicked out of the 7th edition of the ICC World Cup held in England but the tournament sure is one of Sachin’s most memorable innings. Sachin Tendulkar lost his father, Ramesh Tendulkar in between the tournament and had to head back to fulfil his father’s last rites. Sachin later joined back the squad for their match against Kenya at Bristol.
The enthusiastic crowd who had turned up to welcome back the ‘Little Master’ were disappointed when he did not open that day. At 92 for 2, Sachin Tendulkar walked onto the crease and joined Rahul Dravid to lead India to a milestone score of 329 runs. A helpless Kenya never had a chance but they still managed to put up a respectable fight. However, the showstopper was Sachin Tendulkar who walked out of his emotional tensions and knocked an unbeaten 140 runs of 101 balls, to dedicate his one more World Cup century to his father’s memory. Rahul Dravid too joined the party with Sachin and contributed with a brilliant score of 104 runs earlier.
Singer World Series, 1994
Yes! It took 78 appearances at the crease for the ‘Little Master’ to score his maiden ODI century. The Singer World Series saw a multi nation tournament with Australia, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka competing to lift the cup.
Sachin had already knocked 7 Test centuries but his first ODI century was to come against Australia, who felt the heat of Sachin. Tendulkar made a cheesy 110 off 130 balls and led India to win by 31 runs. The best Sachin Tendulkar inning, which gave us the first of his record 49 ODI centuries.
Bilateral ODI Series, 2009
Australia visited India for a bilateral series in 2009 and took away the cup, winning by 4-2. Each of the 6 ODI’s played (the 7th match was abandoned) were nail-biting ones. The best knock of the series from the Indian squad came off Sachin Tendulkar’s bat, in the 5th ODI match.
Australia was already leading the series and had set a mammoth total of 350 runs for India to make. The Australian bowling attack made it a point to keep the Indian side at the edges of their seats, bringing down wickets at regular interval. But the ‘Little Master’ stood there and decided to take things in his own hands. He single handily led India to match the Australians and went up to score 175 runs off just 141 balls. However, he got out when he should have stayed and the team choked after that. Putting up a brave fight, India eventually lost to Australia by 3 runs. Hats off to Sachin for his heroic knock of 175!
Bilateral ODI Series, 1999
If Sachin’s knock of 175 against Australia made you roar, then you better find a bigger roar this time. More than a decade ago, Sachin Tendulkar played a terrific inning at one of his favourite grounds at Hyderabad. The New Zealand national side was in India, playing a 5 match ODI bilateral series in 1999 and had already given India a beating in their own backyard. The 2nd ODI match was played at the old Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad and the Indian side was determined to take back the lost glory. And more than anyone else, it was Sachin Tendulkar who wished to be out at the crease. After Ganguly was run out for just 4, the combination of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar just clicked for India. Building on a partnership with Dravid, Tendulkar scored a massive 186 off 150 balls, sending the ball for runs around the stadium. Sachin’s inning included 20 fours and 3 sixes. And he deserved what he got, the ‘Player of the match’ award. This however overshadowed yet another heroic of Rahul Dravid who scored 153. India went on to win the match, restricting the Kiwi’s at 202.
Coca-Cola Cup, 1998
The Coca-Cola Cup, fondly known as the Sharjah Cup was scheduled to begin on April 17, 1998. Only three days after India had suffered a blow from Australia in the Pepsi Cup. The 7 match series was to be played between Australia, India and New Zealand. India had managed only a win and had to face Australia in a do or die 6th ODI match. India had two targets before them, to score 276 runs to win the match and reach the finals. Or to score 237 runs to qualify over New Zealand and still reach the finals.
Although India could not manage to chase down the Australian total, Sachin’s glorious knock of 143 runs off just 131 balls allowed India to reach 250 and glide over New Zealand. The two teams met again in the final match where India destroyed the Australian pride. Australia, winning all their matches till the finals shamefully lost to India. And the man who stole the show was Sachin Tendulkar. After the 143 saver he pulled of the other night, Tendulkar went after the Australian bowling for 134 runs.
Bilateral Series, 2010
There couldn’t have been a better occasion than this before, for a world record to be set in the history of cricket. South Africa was visiting India to take part in a 3 match ODI series in 2010. India had already clinched the 1st match, winning by a run. The 2nd ODI was played in Gwalior and it was sight not to miss.
India put up a mammoth total of 401 runs, 200 out of this was scored by one man. Sachin Tendulkar waited nearly 22 years between the 22 yards to achieve a feat in itself, 200 runs or a double-ton in ODI cricket. The first ever double-ton was celebrated at the Captain Roop Singh stadium in Gwalior. Each occupant of the stadium, be it the spectators, support staff or the team just stood by and admired Sachin Tendulkar, as he played strokes of utmost class to show India another bilateral series victory.
The greatness of Sachin Tendulkar cannot be bound in numbers. At 27, Sachin had played over 500 international games, made 35 international centuries and had completed 15,000 runs and 13,000 runs in ODI’s and Test’s respectively. Not to forget the World Cup title he led the Indian team to in 2011.
If cricket was to be a religion then Sachin had to be its God. And hence, people have gone as far as calling him ‘The God of cricket’. Throughout the 24 long years of being on the field, what Sachin has done for himself and India is legendary. He started off his professional career in 1989 at 16, debuting at an international match against arch rivals Pakistan, in Karachi. Since then, bearing an immense weight of a billion dreams, Sachin batted through ups and downs and went on to be considered as ‘The greatest batsman that cricket has ever seen after Sir Don Bradman’ by contemporaries and critics. Even Sachin’s keen rivals on the field which includes the likes of Shane Warne, Shoaib Akhtar and Dale Steyn have showed their respect to his modest character, gentleman spirit and above all, to the great athlete he is.
And when the numbers found it hard to catch up with Sachin, the ‘Little Master’ finally decided to call it a break. After 24 years, Sachin Tendulkar finally announced his retirement from the game, first in ODI’s later on retiring from Test match format as well. Sachin made his last international appearance on November 16, 2013 in a test match against West Indies, before his home crowd in Mumbai. It was the first time that a nation full of fans prayed for the West Indies team, in hopes of seeing their God play for one last time. However, India went on to win the test match and that was indeed Sachin Tendulkar’s last innings.
In his 24 years of association with the cricket world, Sachin Tendulkar has garnered achievements, appreciations, honours, and love from all over the world. Yet the spotlight or the money did not influence his character or his game. And Sachin still remains the same as he was when he began playing cricket. A short calm man filled with compassion, humility, discipline, self-belief and dedication. Sachin Tendulkar also possessed amazing levels of concentration and patience which earned him the greatest of the titles in the game of cricket and life.
Such great innings in cricket and life, indeed Sachin R. Tendulkar will be missed out there.