Sachin Tendulkar‘s name is synonymous with genius. He is considered by many, many cricket pundits across the globe as the greatest batsman after Viv Richards in one-dayers and after Don Bradman in Test cricket. The great Bradman once said that Tendulkar’s batting reminds him of his glory days. Tendulkar played one of the greatest ODI innings of all time in a league match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 against arch-rivals Pakistan. Tendulkar tore apart Pakistan’s bowling in an innings which exuded his class. Brilliant timing, placement, temperament and technique was splashed by perhaps the greatest cricket icon the game has seen. Video: Sachin Tendulkar’s 143 against Australia, first of two desert storms

Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first. Saeed Anwar‘s century helped them in posting a challenging total of 273 runs. It was an uphill task before Indian batsmen and it was never going to be easy considering they will have to take on some of the best ODI bowlers of all times. Tendulkar was up against the ‘Sultan of Swing’— Wasim Akram, the greatest speedster in history of the game— Shoaib Akhtar and a bowler who is known to be one of the most accurate in bowling yorkers— Waqar Younis. Sachin took them on from the second over itself.

Akhtar pitched one short but was not able to direct the ball towards the batter’s body. Tendulkar took advantage of the room he got to play the shot and the pace of the express bowler to full effect. His timing was so exquisite that the upper cut landed straight in the stands for a six. One doesn’t often witnesses a ball flying towards backward point for a six but Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar made this happen. Pakistan’s fielders were mere spectators seeing this brilliant aerial shot. But that was not all as Tendulkar followed it up with two dazzling fours. Akhtar was in disarray and so was Pakistan captain Akram; after all they were against a batsman who had given sleepless nights to many great bowlers. Akram had no option but to take Akhtar out. Akram and Younis were next on his cards. Sachin Tendulkar: statistically the best No. 4 batsman of all time?

His batting exuded his extraordinary finesse. In this innings he played the leg glance and his trademark straight drive a couple of times. Tendulkar ended his innings two short of a century but the extraordinary aspect of this innings was not just that it was scored off just 75 balls but because it was against the best pace bowlers of his generation. For people like Imran Khan who said that Inzamam-ul-Haq was a better batsman than Tendulkar had to think again. Also, the debate of who is the best batsman among Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting got silenced.

After Tendulkar’s scintillating innings it was more or less a cakewalk for batsmen who came after him. The testimony to this is Mohammad Kaif scoring 35 runs in 60 balls and Rahul Dravid making 44 runs off 76 deliveries and India still winning the match in 45.4 overs itself. Someone has rightly said that when Tendulkar wields the willow it silences more than a billion people, stock exchange crashes and rises up like a phoenix; and when the ball rushes towards the boundary for a four or soars in the air for a six it is an exhibition of batting greatness.

(Bhaskar Narayan is a reporter at CricketCountry and Criclife. He passionately follows the game and is a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar. His Twitter handle is @Cricopathy)