Best of India in Australia: Sachin Tendulkar cracks the test of Perth
A young Sachin Tendulkar produced a masterclass against Australia in Perth in 1992. (Getty Image)

Think of the bounciest cricket pitch in the world and what comes to mind? Undoubtedly, the WACA, Perth. In 1992, a young Sachin Tendulkar, at 18 years of age, excelled at a venue where many greats couldn’t. India had already lost the series and were trailing 0-3 after four games. Notable performances included a double century from Ravi Shastri in the second game and Kapil Dev picking up his 400th Test wicket. But the one knock that stood head and shoulders above the rest was what Tendulkar would term his best innings: a 114 in the fifth Test at the WACA.

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Tendulkar had already scored a wonderful 148 at Sydney but it was dwarfed by what he would go on to achieve three Tests later. Walking into bat at 69 for 2, against a hostile Australian pace attack comprising Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Paul Reiffel and Mike Whitney, Tendulkar struck the third century of his then-young career. An ageing Dilip Vengsarkar, India’s No.4 had endured a forgettable series and he was replaced by another Mumbaikar in Tendulkar, who prevented what could have been another Indian batting collapse.

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As all great players do, Tendulkar was quick to judge the length and steered the ball between slips and gully to collect his first boundary. He added 31 runs with Sanjay Manjrekar to take India to a respectable 100/2 to steady the ship, but Merv Hughes placed the ball back in Australia’s court soon. He removed Manjrekar and Vengsarkar in a space of nine runs, and once Whitney got Mohammad Azharuddin, the Indian captain, India slumped to 135/5 at stumps. The morning after, nightwatchman Venkatapathy Raju was dismissed without a run being added; Tendulkar was yet to go past his fifty.

India lost Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar cheaply, and with 159/8, the end seemed inevitable. But with a stubborn Kiran More at the other end, Tendulkar pushed India towards 200. He flicked Hughes off his pads to bring up his half-century before getting a move on. He and More put on 50 of the partnership, with Tendulkar scoring 40 of those. On 73, he hit the ball straight to David Boon who was a close-in fielder on the leg side. Off McDermott, Tendulkar executed a stroke that would go on to define him – a straight drive – to bring up his hundred.

With a couple of more slashes over slips, Tendulkar added 14 more after his century before edging to Tom Moody at slips. By then, he had added 81 with More and taken India to 240 from 159 for 8. The crowd rose in applause. Years later, reminiscing the knock, Tendulkar, in 2014, said: “My career was just starting. I had done well for a couple of years by then but it really took off after that Perth innings because I felt I was ready to take on the world.”