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Ex-Mumbai cricketers recall 1997-98 tour vs Aus when Sachin hit a double ton

Ex-Mumbai stalwarts Nilesh Kulkarni & Amit Pagnis recall Australia's 1997-98 tour warm-up at the CCI where Sachin Tendulkar plundered a double ton

The Australians run around the Brabourne Stadium as they prepare for tomorrow’s tour opener against India 'A'. PIC/Suresh Karkera

When Australia head coach Darren Lehmann enters the Cricket Club of India pavilion tomorrow for his team's tour opener against India 'A', his mind could well flash back to 1998 when he was part of Mark Taylor's team which clashed against Mumbai in one of the more famous of tour openers.

Mumbai captain Sachin Tendulkar interacts with the media after Mumbai raced to a 10-wicket win over Mark Taylor’s Australians at the Brabourne Stadium on February 26, 1998 

The then Australian tourists got off to their worst possible starts — a 10-wicket defeat to Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai — led by Sachin Tendulkar, who plundered a memorable, 204 not out, his maiden first-class double century.

No luck for Lehmann
Batting first, Australia declared on Day Two on their overnight score of 305 for eight. Michael Slater helped himself to 98.

Lehmann scored three in four balls and was trapped leg before wicket by Rajesh Pawar off the fifth ball.

February 25 turned out to be the best day of the tie from an Indian fan's point of view as Tendulkar smashed the Australians to all parts of his club ground. He brought up his 100 in 90 balls and didn't crawl his way to surpass his previous highest first-class score of 179, scored in the Nagpur Test against the West Indies in 1994-95.

Nilesh Kulkarni and Amit Pagnis

While Tendulkar played the lead role, the supporting cast was impressive too. Left-handed opening batsman Amit Pagnis clubbed a 60-ball 50 and Rajesh Sutar, known for his big hitting in club cricket, took on Shane Warne during his 45. Of course, Tendulkar gave Warne the kind of treatment, that set the tone for the Test series, which ended 2-1 in India's favour.

Only one of Warne's 16 overs was a maiden as he was caned for 111 with nothing to show in the wickets column.
Lanky left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni, who had claimed the wickets of Taylor (5) and Ricky Ponting (53) in the first innings, followed it up with a five-wicket haul to help dismiss Australia for 135 in the second innings. Lehmann was stumped by Sulakshan Kulkarni off Sutar for one.

Total domination
Kulkarni recalled Tendulkar's double century at the CCI yesterday: "It was determination and domination all the way. The speed at which he scored the double ton was brilliant, almost unbelievable."

About his bowling effort, the former India spinner said, "It was very satisfying since every batsman or bowler aims to score a hundred or bag a fifer. Playing against Australia is always a challenge and the first match of the tour sets the tone for the visiting team. Fortunately, that series ended in India's favour." Kulkarni recalled.

Manjrekar's advice
Pagnis, who hit Warne for four of his nine boundaries, remembered Sanjay Manjrekar encouraging him to play his natural game and he did just that.

"When Warne came into the attack, I stepped out and hit him to the cover boundary fence. I reached my 50 but I was disappointed that I could not convert that innings into a big one. Another disappointment for me was that I missed seeing Sachin's brilliant knock from the non-striker's end as he came into bat when I was dismissed,"
said Pagnis. The southpaw who later played for the Railways, is hoping that India 'A' perform well against the visitors, something which will give the national team a boost before the Test series opens in Pune on February 23.

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