How Sachin learnt from 1999 loss to Pakistan
By: Clayton Murzello
YESTERDAY'S epic unbeaten 103 against England at Chennai has probably convinced Sachin Tendulkar that there is justice in this game, something which he may have not believed in on January 31, 1999.
Sachin Tendulkar walks back after being dismissed against Pak in Chennai, 1999.
The MA Chidambaram is Sachin Tendulkar's happiest hunting ground (Five tons in 9 Tests) but this ground also gave him his most painful moment on a cricket field nine years ago when his 136 against Pakistan went down the nearby Buckingham canal at Chepauk through India's 12-run loss to Wasim Akram's team.
It was a similar match situation yesterday but this time Tendulkar ensured it was a happy ending by not throwing it away. Over nine years, lessons have been learnt and he has added a new chapter to his cricketing life.
Tendulkar told MiD DAY yesterday that visions of that 1999 disappointment appeared during his innings yesterday. "Yes, I did think of it," he admitted from his hotel room in Chennai.
India benefited from Tendulkar's presence as he played good shepherd to his junior batting partner Yuvraj Singh. "I went down and told Yuvraj that it's still not over; don't think it's over and I have experienced it (a close loss) so don't relax," Tendulkar revealed.
At one stage he had to relay a message more emphatically: "Yuvraj played a shot to Monty Panesar which landed in between short mid-wicket and long on. I told him not to do that. He was confident, but some small thing can cause a soft dismissal and it only needs a wicket-taking ball to a new batsman to cause further damage," Tendulkar explained.
Yesterday, it was not only Tendulkar, who was doing the talking. "We kept telling each other that we have to stay there till the very end," he said.
In 1999, Nayan Mongia was dismissed playing a rash shot just when it appeared that the pair would take India home. India lost their last four wickets for four runs after Tendulkar and Mongia put on 135.
Chasing 271 for victory, Tendulkar played a gem against the likes of Akram, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq.
At 254 for six, Tendulkar decided to take on Saqlain again but this time he lofted one to mid-off where Akram accepted it with glee.
The atmosphere at the ground resembled a morgue; probably the dressing room too and in the press box, the pen pushers' cynicism rose alarmingly but was ultimately true: Tendulkar gone and with it, the match. Later, the media learnt that one of his best hundreds was scored not only under duress, but in physical pain too.
Saqlain intensified his effort and Pakistan went on to win by 12 runs. It was a heart-breaker for the whole of India but nothing less for Tendulkar.
He was more than misty-eyed after that loss and was in no mood to attend the post-match presentation. Tendulkar would have extracted some pleasure in going back to that dressing room seat but as he said yesterday, "they've changed the dressing rooms."