Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test hundred 20 years to this day
(Published on Aug 14, 2010)
“Time has flown by rather quickly.” Sachin Tendulkar puts the 20th anniversary of his first Test century in true perspective. On August 14, 1990, Tendulkar scored a match-saving 119 against Graham Gooch’s England at Old Trafford, Manchester to kick off two decades of adulation, admiration and adoration in the land where cricket originated.
India were set 408 to win against an attack comprising the pacy Devon Malcolm, wily Angus Fraser and teasing off-spinner Eddie Hemmings.
The formidable Indian batting order, save Sanjay Manjrekar’s 50, did not measure up to much. Seventeen-year-old Tendulkar walked in at the fall of Dilip Vengsarkar’s wicket with the scoreboard reading 109 for four. The dismissal of skipper Mohammed Azharuddin (11) and Kapil Dev (26) meant Tendulkar and Manoj Prabhakar had to battle against all odds to save the Test.
“We simply could not get out because there was no one left after us,” Prabhakar told MiD DAY yesterday. With only Kiran More, Anil Kumble and Narendra Hirwani to follow, Tendulkar and Prabhakar had to toe a cautious line. But what can one do when a hungry, teenaged strokeplayer is at the other end? “He was just playing his shots and looked in total control against a good attack. It was amazing. In fact, I grew in confidence by watching him from the other end.
I had decided not to do anything fancy till he gets out, but he just refused to be sucked in by the pressure,” said Prabhakar, who scored an unbeaten 67 in a 160-run partnership for the seventh wicket. “Manoj helped me with some determined batting at the other end. I was not surprised by what he did that day because I had played with him earlier and I knew that he was a terrific competitor. We prevented England from winning,” Tendulkar told MiD DAY in an earlier interview while including the Old Trafford ton among 20 of his most memorable cricketing moments.
Fraser was probably the main danger because of the movement he could generate. Prabhakar did not offer any advice for the majority of the partnership. “I only asked Sachin to be patient when it came to playing Fraser towards the end of his spell, but he hit his last ball for four.” In February earlier that year, against New Zealand at Napier, Tendulkar missed out on becoming the youngest ever Test centurion by 12 runs. His Old Trafford hundred put him second on the list behind Pakistan’s Mushtaq Mohammad.
Deservedly, Tendulkar was named man of the match and the reward — a magnum champagne bottle — was preserved and unopened till his daughter Sara’s first birthday in 1998. Forty-seven Test hundreds and 20 years later, he still has the Power bat.
The field is Tendulkar’s playground
(Published on Aug 3, 2010)
When he takes the field for the third Test today, Sachin Tendulkar becomes the most Test capped player in the history of cricket. This is the least compelling of his myriad records but if clubbed together with his longevity in the game, throws up another fascinating dimension to his cricketing persona. It’s been almost 21 years since Tendulkar made his debut at Karachi in 1989.
He was 16 then, which makes him 37 now. This is by no means ‘old’ for a cricketer. Several players in the past played well into their 40s. C K Nayudu and Jack Hobbs , to name just two, were good in their 50s too and Sir Donald Bradman, whom Tendulkar is compared with increasingly, played his last Test at 40.
Very few players, however, have played international cricket for more than 20 years. Hobbs, Wilfred Rhodes, Geoff Boycott and Imran Khan are a few names that come readily to mind. In that sense, Tendulkar has lasted longer than Bradman, Gavaskar, Richards, Miandad and scores of other outstanding cricketers through the ages.
I make this comparison not as a measure of greatness, rather of appetite for playing the game. Given his workload, what with ODIs and sundry other matches to supplement the record number of Tests he’s played, Tendulkar has shown himself to be extraordinarily hungry for cricket. At an age when most players would be looking for an honourable fade-out, he’s marking out a fresh stance as it were.
Sunil Gavaskar mentioned the other night on one of the news channels that what marks Tendulkar out as different from him was his utter child-like delight at taking the field even now. That's what makes him different from most players, contemporaries or predecessors.
Tendulkar is more controlled than nakedly aggressive in his batting, more measured than instinctive. But he doesn’t look a whit jaded. He understands signals from his body and mind, and does take leave of absence from some tournaments, but when he takes the field, it is with full heart, soul and commitment.
Not just statistically, but even from the quality of batsmanship the last two years have been remarkable. When most people thought that Tendulkar would be reaching the end, he has hit a purple patch like perhaps never before. He is scoring at close to 100 runs a Test and made seven centuries in his last 12 Tests, including the masterly double at Colombo last week.
If this is not a second wind, I don’t know what is. When I saw him play his first Test, he had fuzzy hair and a boyish restlessness to prove himself at the highest level. He didn’t make too many on debut, but from the way he walked out to the middle and settled into his impeccable stance, it was evident that Tendulkar was to the manor born. More than two decades later, it seems he owns the place.
Hail, Master Sachin Tendulkar!
Khalid A-H Ansari
(Published on Feb 2, 2010)
If our chests are puffed with joy today, our heads aloft with pride, our sense of belief in our ability to conquer the world sky-high, we, as a cricket-crazy nation, owe a debt of gratitude once again to the inspirational Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for becoming the first human to break the 200-run barrier in 2961 international ODI matches.
Tendulkar’s brilliant, flawless historic, unbeaten 147-ball knock in Gwalior yesterday in his 442nd game in 20 years of international cricket in a career that has seen him obliterate all manner of Test and ODI records, was vintage Sachin, one that will rank alongside his best in the limited overs version.
The Little Master’s achievement yesterday was all the more commendable since it came in humid conditions against the fiercely competitive attack and athletic fielding of one of the most formidable teams in the world, one that ranks among the top three in both Test and one-day cricket.
It also bore testimony to his admirable physical fitness in that, at age 36, he remained unbeaten after batting through 50 overs, despite suffering from cramps in the last 10 overs.His incandescent display was illumined with 25 thrilling fours and three imperious sixes, but was also notable for 56 sprinted singles and 13 twos, the result of flawless timing and deft placements. Tendulkar’s accomplishments in a star-studded career, starting with his unbeaten 286 in the Giles inter-school final and his unbeaten stand of 664 with Vinod Kambli in an inter-school match for Shardashram School on the very day — February 24 (in 1988) — are too well-known to bear repetition.
Suffice to say that even after 47 Test and 46 ODI centuries (for a total of 93) against all-comers all over the world, the diminutive Goliath (not an oxymoron in this context) said after yesterday’s memorable innings that he would like to play another 50-over ODI innings. On the evidence of yesterday’s performance, and given that Tendulkar is showing no traces of losing any of his magical powers (10 of his hundreds have come in the last 12 months), there is no reason why the self-effacing genius — a gentle, compassionate human being if ever there was one — should not complete a century of centuries in the very near future.
Significantly, Tendulkar dedicated his record yesterday to “all people of India... who stood by me and supported me.” When he scores his 100th century, it will surely be another reason for all Indian hearts (he stresses he is Indian first before all else), to swell with pride again.