Home > Features > Moments in history >

The first of the two Sachin Tendulkar desert storms

The first of the two Sachin Tendulkar desert storms

Shane Warne (left), who was in a state of bemused helplessness while at the receiving end of Sachin Tendulkar (right). shakes hands with the maestro at the end of the match © AFP

April 22, 1998. The day of the first desert storm. Arunabha Sengupta revisits the day Sachin Tendulkar launched into a murderous assault on the Australian bowlers to take India into the Coca-Cola Cup final.

That was the innings that left Michael Kasprowicz in trauma. Not for the last time, Shane Warne was in a state of bemused helplessness. Towards the end of it, Damien Fleming was in denial. And throughout, Tony Greig in paroxysms of delight. It was the innings that led Sanjay Manjrekar to realise that perhaps he was looking at the second best batsman in the history of the game after Don Bradman.

It left a captain of Steve Waugh’s calibre wondering about the fickleness of life, the impermanence of things.

There was the interruption that reduced the target from 285 in 50 overs to 276 in 46. More importantly they needed 237 to qualify for the final against Australia, to inch ahead of New Zealand and prevent it from becoming an all-antipode affair. The Duckworth-Lewis rain rule was used due to sand storm in the desert. And then arrived the desert storm itself, from the magical bat of the Master.

Kasprowicz was the first to be blown away. Tendulkar skipped down the track as if playing an old fashioned lob bowler, and launched an attempted slower ball cross batted over the deep mid-wicket. The next ball was the standard fast bowler’s retaliation. The bouncer was pulled over square-leg for another six. When Kasprowicz strayed slightly on the legs, he was delicately tickled fine for four. And when nothing was wrong, the ball short of good length and just outside the off-stump, following every coaching manual in the world, Tendulkar responded with a defensive bat and off it raced through the covers for a boundary.
A push down the ground took him to fifty. Tony Greig gushed, “When it’s tough, the tough get going.”

In came Warne, in a much-awaited battle of the titans, the first round of the cricketing version of the Ali-Frazier bout. The pitch was providing some help to his leg-spinners. And Tendulkar drove him, flat batted through the covers, the ball blazing away through the outfield. As was to happen so very often down the years, Warne just blinked and wondered what to do next.

In he came again, round the wicket, turning it from the rough. Tendulkar came down the wicket, the heavy bat meeting the ball moments after it had landed, and the ball rebounded off the advertisement hoardings beyond long on. It was a quick knock-out.

But, the medium-pacers made it dicey. Tom Moody got Nayan Mongia and Mohammad Azharuddin. Steve Waugh induced a snick off Ajay Jadeja. India slumped to 138 for four, still nearly a hundred needed to qualify. Things were tight. Kasprowicz was brought back. Tendulkar responded with a straight hit that bounced just in front of the sight-screen.

Steve Waugh was launched over his head. And amidst all the miraculous strikes, Tendulkar was running furiously between the wickets, calling for two even before the ball struck the bat. With one such nudge past the square leg, he sprinted back for the second to notch his hundred. It had come off 111 balls, with five fours and three sixes.

The equation for qualifying was still steep. Fleming charged in, bowling faster with frustration. Tendulkar stepped across the stumps and sent it to the fine-leg fence. “They are dancing in the aisles in Sharjah,” announced Tony Greig.

And off the first ball of the next over by Steve Waugh, Tendulkar danced down the wicket and hit him straight down the ground. “All the way for six, what a player!” was the version of an ecstatic Greig. Only 18 were now required from 29 balls to reach the final, 57 to win the match.

When in the next over Tendulkar moved outside his leg-stump smashed Fleming for another straight six, it was evident the master had set himself up for the bigger challenge. Greig’s enthusiasm overflowed out of his microphone across the world and on millions of television sets was heard the infectious excitement, “Way over the top and into the crowds again. Sachin Tendulkar wants to win this match!”
A clip off the legs ensured the Indian qualification. The next ball was played inside out past cover for four. The unbelievable win looked on the cards. Only 34 remained to be scored off 20 balls.

Well, it did not happen that day. The next ball was short and an attempted pull was taken behind the wicket. Tendulkar had fallen after 143 from 131 balls, with nine fours and five sixes. The gallant hero walked back after a landmark One-Day International (ODI) innings, the entire stadium standing as one to cheer him back to the dressing room.

To get an indication of the value of the knock in Indian context, we can do well to note that only eight more runs were scored in the remaining three overs after his dismissal. Single-handedly, Tendulkar had achieved the seemingly impossible.

Yes, the Australians won the match, but it took a while for them to recover from the assault. And two days later, they would revisit the nightmare. Steve Waugh’s men would face the full blaze of the Tendulkar class again. The little man would perform an encore in the final, and India would go wild on his 25th birthday.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

Afghanistan tour of UAE, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Dubai

More

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 124 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 25 runs

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)

Photos

Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos

Videos

Phil Hughes passes away: Video tribute

Phillip Hughes passes away: Let us bring Sean Abbott back on track

Phil Hughes and other cricketers who succumbed to on-field injuries

Phillip Hughes 7th-youngest Test cricketer to die

Phillip Hughes: A brief look at the career of one of Australia’s most promising talents

Phillip Hughes: Rest in peace

Australia England India India tour of Australia 2014-15 New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 Phil Hughes Phil Hughes Death Phil Hughes head injury Phillip Hughes

Phillip Hughes’ death: Indian newspaper’s blunder reads ‘RIP Sachin Tendulkar’

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014, 4th ODI at Dhaka: Anamul Haque dismissed for 5

Phillip Hughes’ death: #Putoutyourbats viral on social media

Phillip Hughes passes away: State Memorial Service to be held

Phillip Hughes passes away: New Zealand players wear initials ‘P.H.’ on jerseys

Henry Blofeld: Nephew of an England captain?

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014: Pakistan top-order prevails once again

Prakash Bhandari: The teenage prodigy BCCI could not capitalise on

Phil Hughes: Remembering his most memorable knocks

Phillip Hughes passes away: Kolkata is where Kolkata was

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

682 Posts | 6 Fans

Video: Phil Hughes suffers head injury, collapses on field during New South Wales vs South Australia tie

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Alia Bhatt or Shraddha Kapoor: Who can play Jennifer Lawrence’s role if Mockingjay is remade in Bollywood?

सुबह गुनगुना पानी पीने के छह फ़ायदे

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

सर्दी के दिनों में त्वचा को स्वस्थ रखने के कुछ सरल उपाय

Ungli movie review: Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda let down by predictable and contrived plot

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here