Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Tendulkar pays tribute to father with whirlwind 140* against Kenya at 1999 World Cup
May 23, 1999 - The visual of Sachin Tendulkar looking to the heavens after reaching a milestone has become part of the cricketing lingo over the years. Tendulkar was not the first batsman to do it and not the last either. But, the gesture that began midway in his international career was for a very special reason.
India's start to the 1999 World Cup wasn't great as the team lost their opening encounter against South Africa - the same match in which Hansie Cronje and coach Bob Woolmer received a lot of flak for the use of a earpiece on the ground to communicate with each other.
On the eve of India's second match against Zimbabwe, Tendulkar received the news of his father's demise. Ramesh Tendulkar was a Marathi writer and Sachin had been quite close to his father.
He had been ill but had recovered, which is why the sudden passing away came as a shock to Tendulkar and his family. Sachin flew back to India as the team faced Zimbabwe. Call it fate or India's poor application, the team lost an unexpectedly close game by three runs against the Alistair Campbell-led side.
By the time India got ready to face Kenya in their third march, Tendulkar was back in England. “After spending four days in India, I returned to England to rejoin the team on the eve of the match against Kenya. That, it seemed to me, was what my father would have wanted me to do, and that’s what prompted the decision to return to London to play the remaining World Cup matches,” Tendulkar later said.
By then, things had got tricky for India as they now had to win all their remaining matches to qualify for the Super Sixes. Apart from the grieving, Tendulkar also had to deal with a back issue that had been reoccurring since he scored a memorable 136 against Pakistan before the showpiece event.
Sadagopan Ramesh had opened the batting along with Sourav Ganguly in Tendulkar's absence and did well. With Rahul Dravid slotted at number three, Tendulkar came out to bat at 4 in the game against Kenya with India in a good position at 92/2 in the 21st over.
The Little Master was not overly aggressive to begin with. He got off the mark with a drive down the ground off Thomas Odoyo. Few quick singles set off his partnership with Rahul Dravid. The duo looked in control throughout the innings with their stand peppered with boundaries alongside singles and doubles.
Apart from his trademark drive and a few cheeky paddle sweeps, Tendulkar dismissed Kenya captain Asif Karim for a six over long-on to give a glimpse of the things to come. He brought up his half-century in the 35th over and looked at the sky, while raising his bat, for the first time in his career. This one was for Dad.
But the knock had not ended by any stretch. In fact, after he brought up his half-century off 54 deliveries, he would need only 47 more balls to plunder another 90 runs.
The master brought up his century in the 44th over with a quick double off Steve Tikolo, becoming the batsman to score the first century in the 1999 World Cup. After the century, he looked up to the heavens yet again, followed by a subdued celebration.
Tendulkar and David kept pushing the pace and ended up with 329 for two at the end of the 50 overs. Tendulkar was unbeaten on 140 off just 101 deliveries in a knock that included 16 fours and 3 sixes.
He had a 237-run partnership with Dravid in which the contribution of the latter was just 82 runs. Dravid also finished with an unbeaten 104 off 109 deliveries as India posted a mammoth total.
Debashish Mohanty's figures of 4/56 helped India win the game by 94 runs. The team went on to defeat Sri Lanka and England to qualify for the Super Sixes.
Tendulkar scored his runs at 42.17 in the 1999 World Cup edition at strike rate of over 90. Each time a milestone was brought up, Tendulkar looked to the heavens. You knew his dad was there to laud the efforts of junior Tendulkar.
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