By Sarang Bhalerao
The start of the India innings was dismal. Sourav Ganguly was dismissed for one while Mohammad Azharuddin was out for a duck. At eight for two in three overs, prudence was the need of the hour for India.
Sachin Tendulkar stepped in and took control, as he so often has. Such was his confidence level that he found counterattacking options viable. He stood out with exquisite shots, essayed effortlessly. His backfoot punch off Michael Kasprowicz kick-started his compendium. The graceful stroke off the next delivery pierced the packed off-side cordon and it was akin to a compelling prose. If his batting were a gripping novel, then as readers we wanted to read more of his work. And we got lucky. The master was in the zone.
He was navigating to a known destination — a three-figure mark. Eighteen times he had been in that situation. And every time the celebration was plain simple. Taking the helmet off, kissing the India crest and again taking fresh leg-stump guard, as if to say it loud to the opposition, ‘I am not yet done.’ The three-figure corpus was a 94-ball ferry-ride. Australia’s cup of woes continued to overflow as Tendulkar took on their bowlers with customary authority. His innings of 141 [off 128 deliveries] was decorated by 13 boundaries and three sixes.
Tendulkar was not through hounding the Aussies. At Kochi, early in the year, he was India’s Dial 911 with a five-for haul against them. Tendulkar continued to make the Aussies dance to his tunes as he finished his spell with four for 38 as India won by 44 runs.
India 307 for 8 in 50 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 141, Ajay Jadeja 71; Michael Kasprowicz 3 for 71) beat Australia 263 all-out in 48.1 overs (Mark Waugh 74; Sachin Tendulkar 4 for 38) by 44 runs.
Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)