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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Tendulkar storm that hit Australia post the desert storm

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century during the Coca Cola Trophy final in Sharjah
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century during the Coca Cola Trophy final in Sharjah
©Reuters

April 22, 1998 - After the sandstorm in Sharjah held up play for 25 minutes, another storm hit the venue as Tendulkar blasted his way to 143 off 131 balls, with 9 fours and 5 sixes, taking down Shane Warne.

Picture Sachin Tendulkar at his best - a classical and uncomplicated stance, low back-lift, high elbow and there she goes. Fill the sight with Tony Greig's adrenaline-pumping commentary - “They are dancing in the aisles in Sharjah.” “All the way for six, what a player!” “Way over the top and into the crowds again. Sachin Tendulkar wants to win this match!” And you have the perfect recipe for a high-octane encounter.

It was the sixth match of the Coca-Cola Cup at Sharjah. India needed to win against Australia or not lose by a big margin to qualify for the final, scheduled for two days later. On the back of a century from Michael Bevan and 81 from Mark Waugh, Australia posted 284/7.

 

 

There was an interruption due to a sand storm in Sharjah that reduced the target from 285 in 50 overs to 276 in 46. India needed at least 237 to qualify for the final against Australia, to pip New Zealand on net run rate. 

Each of Shane Warne, Damien Fleming, Steve Waugh and Michael Kasprowicz faced Tendulkar's wrath that day, but his contest against champion leggie Warne was the most exciting. Warne, who had foxed most batsmen around the world, appeared bemused as Tendulkar was down the track against him in a flash.

The way the little master tackled Warne's variations was a master class on playing spin bowling. Tendulkar read everything from the hand and was in a position to play the shot of his liking before the ball pitched. The batsman hardly put a foot (literally) wrong that day.

Even when Warne came round the wicket, turning it from the rough, Tendulkar came down the wicket, taking it on the half volley and wielded his heavy willow. Next moment, the ball would hit the advertisement hoardings at long-on.

 All this was in the scorching heat of Sharjah. With just one day for recovery and the final to be played the day after, Tendulkar later spoke about the toll that innings took on him.

“Given the conditions in the month of April — the temperatures are really high and you can feel the heat going through your shoes and socks — and the first thing you want to do is to put your feet in the ice bucket. In my case, that was one experience which I remember how tough it was to stay there and play the best team in the world.

“Australia was No.1 at that stage and to beat them so convincingly was extremely satisfying. Those days we used to play in Sharjah and drive all the way back to Dubai. And the next day was for recovery and the following day was the final. It was not so easy.”

Warne was taken to the clearers by Sachin, but apart from him, Steve Waugh and Michael Kasprowicz proved to be particularly expensive that day. The two conceded 120 runs from the total of 18 overs between them, with just one wicket to show for.

Even after Tom Moody got Nayan Mongia and Mohammad Azharuddin and Steve Waugh nicked off Ajay Jadeja, with India being reduced to 138 for 4, the way Tendulkar was going, it looked that he would top the target with his own might. Tendulkar brought up his ton off 111 balls, with 5 fours and 3 sixes.

It was when Tendulkar was caught off an attempted pull shot at 143 from 131 balls, with 9 fours and 5 sixes,  that the panache of his innings was further highlighted. India managed only eight more runs from the remaining three overs after his dismissal, losing by 26 runs.

Despite India's defeat, the brilliance of the little man shook up the Aussies. Two days later, in the final, Tendulkar would go on to stroke his way to another ton at the same venue as India beat Australia to lift the title.

 

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