So…it’s nostalgia time again.
Sachin Tendulkar may have retired from all forms of the game but the legend lives on through his fans. This list below is my pick for Tendulkar’s most memorable test match centuries (in descending order of awesomeness).
8. 241* v Australia, Sydney, 2003: An innings of self-denial. Mid-wicket, square leg, straight down the ground, mid-wicket again, square leg again. Nothing through the covers. A lesson in test match batting – patience and making the bowlers bowl where you want them to bowl.
Sometimes, even greatness has to curb itself.
7. 193 v England, Leeds, 2002 : The Sachin & Dada sound-and-light show. The Indian batsmen refuse the umpire’s offer of bad light. A battered England can’t spot the ball in the dark!
India go on to win by an innings and 46 runs.
6. 155 v South Africa, Bloemfontein, 2001 : Rescuing India from a perilous position along with Virender Sehwag making his test debut. At times, the only way to tell which batsman was on strike was to look at the sticker on the bat. A rollicking partnership ensues. The patented Sachin upper-cut makes it’s first appearance.
India go on to lose the test match by 9 wickets.
5. 146 v South Africa, Cape Town, 2011: Sachin Tendulkar v. Dale Steyn. The world’s best batsman pitting his wits against the world’s best fast bowler. Meeting Steyn’s fire with ice, Sachin’s last test hundred was one for the ages. Test cricket at its very best.
4. 169 v South Africa, Cape Town, 1997 : India in the doldrums at 58/5. Skipper Sachin and ex-skipper Azza come together. Pure magic.
Watch out for that insane catch from Adam Bacher to end it!
India lose the match by 282 runs.
3. 103* v England, Chennai, 2008 : An emotional hundred coming just after the Mumbai terror attacks. England set India a massive 387 in Chennai. A ballistic 83 off 68 balls from Sehwag reduces the task to manageable proportions. Sachin and Yuvraj see India home by 6 wickets. A nation in mourning has something to celebrate.
Putting things in perspective, Sachin dedicates the century to the victims of the Mumbai attacks.
2. 155* v Australia, Chennai, 1998 : The whole series is billed as the Sachin v Warne contest. Two young players at the top of their game. Warne draws first blood getting Sachin in the first innings driving at a wide leg break, caught by Taylor at slip.
Before the series, Sachin has spent hours in the nets against ex India leg spinner L. Sivaramakrishnan, working on ways to play leg spin out of the rough. The work pays off as he lap-sweeps, slog-sweeps, cuts and drives his way to a massive hundred, allowing Azhar to set the Australians a chase of 347.
- 136 v Pakistan, Chennai, 1999 : It is the first test tour of India by arch-rivals Pakistan for more than a decade. After several twists and turns, India are set 272 on a turning Chennai wicket against a top-class Pakistani bowling attack comprising Akram, Younis, Mustaq and Saqlain. India are soon staring down the barrel at 82/5 before Sachin and Nayan Mongia began the rescue act. They take the score to 218/5 before Mongia goes playing the most horrendous shot.
Fighting the Chennai heat, humidity, crippling back spasms and the Pakistanis, Sachin bats on. With 17 to get, he goes for a big hit to try and reduce the margin. He only gets a leading edge to mid-off. It goes miles in the air. Time stops. Akram clings on. A weary Tendulkar trudges off.
The end comes quickly. India lose by 12 runs. So near yet to so far.
Please watch the documentary “A bat and ball war” to get a feel for the emotional pressure this innings is played under.
Heartbreak for India but her favourite son has played an immortal innings.
Thoughts? Comments? Agree? Disagree?