World timeline in the Sachin Tendulkar Era - Part 1: The 20th century

In 1995, Sachin Tendulkar signed Rs 30 crore contract with WorldTel © Getty Images

When we look back at the career of Sachin Tendulkar, the enormous longevity boggles the mind. We are struck by the way he has remained an almost eternal constant across global changes that have seen the world metamorphose beyond recognition. In this two-part series. Arunabha Sengupta traces the history of the world through the years during which Sachin Tendulkar stood at the wicket making runs for India.

A brief history of the world as Sachin Tendulkar stood at the wicket scoring runs


As the year dawned, the Soviet Union began its program of economic restructuring, otherwise called Perestroika, under the legislation initiated by Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. At the other end of the super power scene, United States signed a free trade agreement with Canada.

As the months wore on, George Bush (Sr) was nominated for President by the Republicans and emerged victorious over Michael Dukakis.

Tragedy struck in Pakistan as an airplane blast killed President Zia-ul-Haq. Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of the country.

During the year, Whitney Houston sang “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. Dangerous Liaisons and Die Hard ruled Hollywood even as the audience wondered Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Netherlands became the second country to get connected to the Internet. The first version of Photoshop software shipped with Barneyscan image scanners.The term Global Warming was used for the first time by James Hansen of NASA.

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was published.

In India, an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale shook Bihar.

In February, a chubby-cheeked, curly-haired Sachin Tendulkar, still only 14, made headlines for the first time. Batting for Shardhashram Vidyamandir in their Harris Shield Inter-Schools Championship against St. Xavier’s, he scored 326 not out while adding 664 with Vinod Kambli. His total aggregate for that year in Harris Shield was 1025, including back-to-back triple hundreds in the semi-final and final.

By December, Tendulkar had made his First-Class debut, scoring an unbeaten 100 against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy encounter.


The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran branded Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses offensive and sentenced the author to death. Tens of thousands of Chinese students took over Tiananmen Square. By May thousands of them were killed. Voyager 2 sped past Neptune.

Ice Cube departed from Niggaz Wit Attitudes after financial problems and several conflicts even as Janet Jackson released Rhythm Nation 1814. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal depicted the events that unfolded When Harry Met Sally.

Cornell University student Robert Tappan Morris Jr. was indicted by the federal grand jury for releasing a computer virus. He thus became the first person to be prosecuted under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the United States.

The month of November saw some stirring changes across the world. Deng Xiaoping resigned as the chairman of China’s Central Military Commission. The Berlin Wall was torn down by elated people as the east and west merged in two flows of human seas. Czech Republic saw the end of its long lasting communist regime.

In India too, Rajiv Gandhi resigned as Prime Minister as coalition government was imminent.

And that month there were enormous changes in the cricket world as well. A spectacular  unbeaten 103 against Delhi in the Irani Trophy earned Tendulkar a place in the Indian team for the tour of Pakistan. On November 15, he made his Test debut at Karachi, making his first half-century nine days later at Faisalabad.

In the following month, December 1989, the communist government in Romania came to an end with the execution of the despot President Ceausescu. In India, VP Singh took over as the Prime Minister. Even as Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize, the US troops invaded Panama.

In the fourth Test at Sialkot, Tendulkar was hit on the nose by Waqar Younis and continued to bat, scoring 57 and helping India save the Test against an attack that also included Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir. Two days later, in an unofficial limited-overs match at Peshawar, he hammered Qadir for four sixes on the way to an unbeaten 53 off 18 balls.

More resounding developments were witnessed around the world.

The Communists were toppling all over the globe. Yugoslavia saw the end of a 45-year monopoly of power.  Finally, Soviet Communists also relinquished their undisputed authority.

In a development that would have profound effect on the cricket world, South Africa freed Nelson Mandela after 27 years of imprisonment.

By the middle of the year Cold War was finally ended. But, a more violent conflict was kicked off as Iraqi troops invade Kuwait to seize petroleum reserves, leading tothe Persian Gulf War.

In October, East and West Germany were reunited. And down the line, the move to form European Union was given a boost.

Margaret Thatcher resigned as the British Prime Minister and cricket-loving John Major succeeded her.

The World Wide Web made a modest debut, and Internet started entering the lives of an elite few. On November 12, Tim Berners-Lee published the first formal proposal for the World Wide Web and on November 13, the first known web page was written.

The Human Genome project was founded. The Pale Blue Dot photograph of Earth was sent back from the Voyager 1 probe after completing its primary mission, from around 3.5 billion miles away. The best reserved Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil was discovered in South Dakota.

Macaulay Culkin charmed one and all in Home Alone. Madonna released The Immaculate Collection while Mariah Carey made her debut.

In India, VP Singh’s reservation policies ended in severe riots. Problems for the Prime Minister continued as the Ayodhya mosque issue remained inflammable. Singh finally stepped down and Chandra Sekhar took over as the Prime Minister.

Amidst all this crisis, Tendulkar continued his march. At Napier, he fell 12 short of becoming the youngest-ever to score a Test century. It was at Manchester that he got there, scoring 119 and winning the Man of the Match award, saving India from yet another defeat. By the end of the year, he had won his first Man of the Match award in ODIs as well, with a fine all-round performance against Sri Lanka at Pune.

The Desert Storm raged in Iraq as US and Allies were taken on by Saddam Hussain. By April, the UN forces emerged victorious. This was the first War to be followed on television.

There were steps taken towards global peace as well. France agreed to sign the 1968 treaty banning spread of atomic weapons and China accepted the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The political map of Europe continued to change with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia winning independence. Boris Yeltsin became the first freely elected president of Russian Republic. By the end of the year, after Gorbachev’s resignation, the entire Soviet Union broke up into independent states.

Bad days continued for the communist regimes. In Albania, the communist government relinquished power. Jiang Qing, widow of Mao Tse Tung, committed suicide.

In the entertainment world, Michael Jackson released Dangerous. Anthony Hopkins played ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ in Silence of the Lambs.

The first web browser and a WYSIWYG HTML editorwere launched.

In India, the baton kept changing hands. Chandra Sekhar resigned as Prime Minister and PV Narsimha Rao took over. Tragedy struck at Sriperembudur when a ghastly bomb blast saw the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

In another development crucial to the cricket world, the European nations ended sanctions on South Africa. Soon after that, the South African Parliament repealed the apartheid laws.

By November 1991, Clive Rice led the first post-isolation South African team on an international tour. They started with a bang, with Alan Donald firing out three quick Indian wickets at the Eden Gardens in the historical ODI. However, 18-year-old Sachin Tendulkar turned the match on its head with a solid half-century. The young man ended the year by getting Andy Cummins caught at slip to secure a tie against West Indies after India had scored just 126 at Perth.


The year started with the Yugoslav Federation breaking up, and within a few months the Republic of Bosnia Herzegovina was set up. George Bush and Boris Yeltsin formally proclaimed the end to cold war. In another boost for peaceful negotiations, the USA lifted trade sanctions against China.

In the United States, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were nominated by the Democrats. By November, Clinton was elected President and Gore was elected Vice President. By the end of the year, the U.S. forces left Philippines, ending nearly a century of American military presence.

The former Eastern Bloc was further fragmented as Czechoslovakia government started the process of division into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Britain saw division of another kind as Prince and Princess of Wales agreed to separate.

Sharon Stone was sizzling enough to try bringing the temperature down with an ice pick in Basic Instincts, while veteran Clint Eastwood remained Unforgiven. Whitney Houston released Bodyguard.

In India, the demolition of Babri Masjid led to widespread violence and riots. In Bombay, 1500 people were killed. There was further tragedy as filmmaker Satyajit Ray passed away.

The Government established the Stock Exchange Regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

On the cricket field Tendulkar conquered the Southern Hemisphere, scoring 148 not out at Sydney, 114 on a fiery wicket at Perth and ended the year with 111 at Johannesburg. He completed his 1000 runs in Test cricket and had a brilliant World Cup, scoring 283 runs at 47.16. However, India failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

This was also the year in which he became the first overseas professional to be signed by Yorkshire.

In the very beginning of the year, a single market was created in Europe. European Union was given shape by the Maastricht Treaty. South Africa adopted majority rule constitution. Vaclav Havel was elected as the Czech president.

However, amidst all these positives, an early warning of a future tragedy was received as five men were arrested for a bombing attack on the World Trade Center in New York. In another part of the world, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber.

The first Pentium Chip was shipped by Intel. The word spamming was used for the first time in the cyberspace. Adobe launched the first version of Acrobat reader pdf. And Andrew Wiles announced the first solution of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

Mariah Carey’s Music Box sold 32 million copies. Dinosaurs made a huge comeback with Jurassic Park.

In Bombay, several bombings killed 257 people in March.

Shahrukh Khan produced a double bonanza with villainous roles in Baazigar and Darr. The latter film also showed action on the cricket field, although for some reason Graeme Hick and Robin Smith were seen at the crease with England eight down. Protests and titillation went hand in hand with the Cholike peechhe kya hai number of Khalnayak.

Tendulkar scored his first Test hundred on home soil, hammering 165 against England at Chennai in an innings victory. In July, he was named vice-captain to Mohammad Azharuddin for the tour of Sri Lanka and in the series scored a crucial unbeaten century in India’s first overseas win since 1986. The year ended with the Hero Cup triumph, made memorable by his last over against South Africa that clinched a tantalising win after only six runs were required in front of a rampaging Brian McMillan.

The year started with Serbian shelling on Sarajevo. The turmoil across the planet continued with the Rwandan genocide of Tutsis by Hutus with approximately 800,000 slaughtered within a hundred days. O. J. Simpson was arrested in killings of wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend, Ronald Goldman.

On the positive side, the first interracial elections were held in South Africa and Nelson Mandela was elected president. IRA declared cease-fire in Northern Ireland.

In sports, Major League baseball professionals went on strike. Club owners ended season and cancelled the World Series.

Mufasa looked proudly over his kingdom in Lion King. The Division Bell was Pink Floyd’s last studio album to be launched.

The Netscape Navigator came out with the first https protocol. The Western Hemisphere was declared free from Polio. The first Apple Macintosh computer appeared on the market.

India rolled out the Prithvi Missile. In May, Sushmita Sen was crowned Miss Universe in Manila. And in November, Aishwarya Rai became the Miss World in Sun City.

In a significant move, Tendulkar opened the batting for the first time in ODIs and scored a blistering 82 of 49 balls in New Zealand. By September, he had scored the first of his 49 ODI hundreds, in his 79th game, against Australia at Colombo. Before ending the year, he had hammered a match-turning 85 against West Indies at Bombay and followed it up with 179 at Nagpur.

On November 18, he reached the No 1 rank among Test batsmen for the first time. By the end of the year, he had received the Arjuna Award.


The criminal trial of O. J. Simpson opened in California, and by October he was found not guilty. In Tokyo, a nerve gas attack in the subway killed eight people and injured thousands. It was allegedly caused by The Aum Shinrikyo (“Supreme Truth”) cult.

The Rwanda Massacre death toll registered 2,000. Fighting continued in Bosnia and Croatia. France explodeda nuclear device in Pacific, giving rise to wide protests.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was killed by Jewish extremist at peace rally.  In Nigeria, writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other minority rights advocates were hanged to death.

On the brighter side, World Trade Organisation was formed. The Dalai Lama proclaimed six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama.

Hugh Grant squinted his way through Sense and Sensibility while Pierce Brosnan played 007 in Golden Eye. Michael Jackson released HIStory, the bestselling multiple disc of all time.

The Java programming language was born. sold its first book – Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought. In Oregon, the first wiki software – WikiWikiWeb – was born.

India joined the WTO. In Bollywood, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge broke all box office records.

Tendulkar blazed to 112 not out from 107 deliveries against Sri Lanka in the stifling heat of Sharjah before tying the knot with Dr Anjali Mehta. He ended the largely cricket-less year by securing Rs.30 crore contract with WorldTel.

France announced the end of nuclear tests. But, there was trouble in other corners of the world. At least 73 were reported dead in Sri Lankan suicide bombing. More suicide bombers killed 59 in Israel. Britain was alarmed by the deadly cow disease. Violence flared in Jerusalem with Israel opening tourist tunnel. Tension continued in Iraq. Ethnic violence broke out in Zairian refugee camps, leading thousands of refugees from Rwanda and Burundi to abandon the shelters. Taliban Muslim fundamentalists captured the Afghan capital Kabul. Thousands marched in Belgrade in continuing protest against President’s annulment of election results.

On the positive side, the Chechnya peace treaty was signed. China agreed to the world ban on atomic testing. Leaders in Balkans signed accord on arms limits.

The music world was rendered yummy with the sprinkling of the Spice Girls. Tom Cruise held on to his last client as the sports agent Jerry McGuire, while also going on Mission Impossible.

Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned, was born in July. Google was born under the name BackRub. Deep Blue beat world champion Garry Kasparov for the first time in a chess game.

In India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was elected the new Prime Minister of India. However, BJP did not receive an overall majority and rather than faced a no-confidence vote, Vajpayee resigned after thirteen days in term. As leader of the United Front HD Deve Gowda was sworn in as Prime Minister.

Tendulkar became the highest run-scorer in the World Cup by amassing 523 at 87.16 with two hundreds. It was his dismissal at 67 in the semi-final which triggered the Indian collapse against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens. On February 29, he reached the No 1 in One-Day International (ODI) batting ranking for the first time in his career. In Test cricket, he scored a scintillating counter-attacking 122 in the Test at Birmingham, one of the best innings in crisis, and followed it up with 177 and 74 at Nottingham. By the end of the year he was the captain of India and had scored six centuries in ODIs in the last 12 months.

President Clinton started his second term even as tornadoes wreaked havoc in Arkansas, Ohio, and Kentucky while North Dakota suffered from floods. At the age of 36, Princess Diana was killed along with two others in Paris car crash. Militant Taliban leaders seized Kabul. In Albania a third of population lost savings because of pyramid schemes. Fire killed 300 pilgrims outside Mecca.

Russian president Yeltsin signed the Chechnya peace treaty. After half a century, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule.

Celine Dion sang Let’s Talk about Love while Shania Twain was more forthcoming in Come on Over. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet stood with arms spread on the deck of Titanic. Jack Nicholson wondered if it was As Good as it Gets. Bloomsbury published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The domain name Google was registered. Deep Blue won a full match against Kasparov, a pioneering achievement in the history of computers. Pictures of Mars was transmitted back by a U.S. spacecraft Mars Global Surveyor.

In India, Mother Teresa passed away at the age of 87. The musical chairs at the helm continued as IK Gujral was elected Prime Minister. He resigned after seven months in November.

Tendulkar started the year with a breath-taking 169 at Cape Town and scored three more Test hundreds, amassing 1,000 runs in the calendar year in both Tests and ODIs. He was named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the 1997.

There was a bomb of a different kind that exploded at the beginning of the year. President Clinton was accused in a White House sex scandal. He denied allegations of affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. By August, however, he admitted his relationship in a televised address to the nation. Well, we will assume there was no influence of this personal crisis when the President ordered air strikes on Iraq in December.

The human propensity to kill each other continued. An U.S. plane cut through a ski cable in Italy and sent the funicular car plunging, thereby killing 20 people. An earthquake killed thousands in Afghanistan.

Fighting continued between the Serbs and the Kosovo rebels. NATO, on verge of air strikes, reached a settlement with Slobodan Milosevic on Kosovo. U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed.

Russia fought desperately to avert financial collapse. North Korea fired a missile across Japan.
On the happier side, the European nations agreed on single currency, the euro. Indonesian dictator Suharto stepped down after 32 years in power. Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London. The Wye Mills Agreement between Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat moved Middle East peace talks forward.

I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith became the first song by a rock band to debut at number one. Cameron Diaz flashed her wide and winsome smile in There is Something about Mary.

Dr. Friedrich-Wilhelm Mohr performed the first robotically assisted coronary artery bypass surgery at the Leipzig Heart Centre in Germany using the da Vinci Surgical System. XML was published as a recommendation of the W3C.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India after General Elections. India dropped some surprising bombshells of their own by conducting atomic tests deite worldspwide disapproval. Pakistan responded with five nuclear tests. For the first time since 1992 talks between India and Pakistan were held over the disputed Siachen glacier. It ended with Pakistan rejecting an Indian proposal for ceasefire.
Tendulkar was named the Man of the Series in the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup at Dhaka where India triumphed 2-1 in the final. In March, he scored a superlative match-winning 155 not out at Chennai to pulverise Shane Warne with scintillating strokeplay. He followed it up with another big hundred at Bangalore. In the ODIs, he got his first five wicket haul at Kochi against the Aussies. And then, he continued his amazing run against them with two whirlwind knocks in Sharjah, a brilliant 143 to take India to the title round and a superb match-winning 134 in the final. He went on to score 128 in a 252 run opening stand in the final of the Singer Akai Nidahas Trophy, and India won the match by six runs. In August the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award was bestowed on him. The following month, he scored his 18th ODI hundred to go past Desmond Haynes’s record. He ended the year with a breath-taking 124 not out in the Champions Trophy tri-series final in Sharjah. He ended the year with a skilful 113 in difficult conditions in Wellington.

NATO launched air strikes on Serbia to end attacks against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Some NATO bombs mistakenly hit Chinese embassy in Belgrade. After 11 weeks of air attacks, the Serbs signed agreement to pull troops out of Kosovo.

The Falun Gong meditation sect was banned by the Chinese government. John F. Kennedy, Jr., wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette were killed in plane crash off coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

There were plenty of things happening amongst the movers and shakers. Boris Yeltsin replaced Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin with Vladimir Putin in the fourth government shakeup in 17 months. Nelson Mandela resigned as president of South Africa and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki. Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary joined NATO. Britain’s Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The New Northern Ireland government began self-rule for first time in 25 years.

Things were happening in air and beyond. The first non-stop balloon flight around world was completed in 20 days by Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of UK. NASA accidentally lost the $125 million spacecraft as it orbited Mars. China launched her first spacecraft.

The Melissa Worm attacked the Internet. Col. Eileen Collins became the first woman to head a space shuttle mission.

Keanu Reeves was introduced to The Matrix by the vinyl-clad Carie-Anne Moss. Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson arrived on the scene in a chronological chorus.

The Kargil War endedin an Indian victory after two months of conflict. Heavily armed hijackers took over an Indian Airlines Airbus carrying 189 people from Kathmandu to New Delhi. After a detour to the United Arab Emirates, it landed at Kandahar. The hijackers demanded the release of 35 terrorists and a sum of $200 million. One passenger was stabbed to death. The rest were freed after reaching an agreement with India for the release of three terrorists in Kashmir.

Tendulkar struck a brilliant 136 against Pakistan at Chennai, fighting a supreme bowling attack and a back injury. However, India scored six runs before he came in, and four after he left, losing the Test by 12 runs. A couple of months later, he was awarded the Padma Shri. He returned to India during the World Cup in England after the death of his father, and went back to score a hundred against Kenya. Made captain yet again, he scored his first double hundred in Test cricket at Ahmedabad against New Zealand. He ended the year with a record breaking ODI knock of 186 not out against the same opponents at Hyderabad.

To be continued…

(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