Twenty years, twenty best knocks of Sachin Tendulkar

As Sachin Tendulkar completes twenty years in international cricket, Deccan Herald takes a look at his twenty best knocks:

* 1. 114 vs Australia in Perth Test (1991-92): Acknowledged by the master himself as one of his very best Test efforts when, as an 18-year-old, he tackled Australia’s best on a fiery strip with confidence and composure.

* 2. 169 vs South Africa in Cape Town Test (1996-97): Routed for 100 and 66 in the previous Test in Durban, India needed a special from Tendulkar to save batting face, and the skipper responded with a telling assault on Donald, Klusener, McMillan and company.

* 3. 136 vs Pakistan in Chennai Test (1998-99): A true epic scored as he battled a cripping back injury and an inspired Saqlain Mushtaq. Almost took India to victory, but when he fell with glory beckoning, the bottom fell out. And Tendulkar cried, inconsolably.

* 4. 143 & 134 vs Australia in Sharjah (1997-98): Two knocks separated by a day, but completely interlinked. The first turbo-charged India to the final, the second destroyed Australia in the final.

* 5. 175 vs Australia in Hyderabad (2009): India were chasing 351 for victory, and looked out for the count when Dhoni was dismissed. Again single-handedly, after 20 years in the business, Tendulkar kept India afloat. Again, he couldn’t quite finish off things as India fell three short. Heart-breaking.

* 6. 98 vs Pakistan in Centurion (2003 World Cup): Pakistan had amassed a huge total, the pressure was on India and Tendulkar responded with a breathtaking assault on Akram, Waqar and Akhtar. No century, but the 98 was worth many, many more.

* 7. 119* vs England in Manchester Test (1990): His first Test century, made with India fighting to save the Test on the final day. Composed and poised, it was the 16-year-old’s first brush with superstardom as India came away with an honourable draw.

* 8. 103* vs England in Chennai Test (2008-09): The perfect answer to critics that said he hadn’t won enough Tests for India. A beautifully crafted century on a fifth-day track as India mounted their highest successful chase on home soil. The ton was, poignantly, dedicated to Mumbai.

* 9. 116 vs Australia in Melbourne Test (1999-2000): Saddled with a young and inexperienced line-up, Tendulkar once again stood out for his command and mastery, though it was another hundred in a losing cause.

* 10. 57 vs Pakistan in Sialkot Test (1989-90): Struck on the face by a Waqar delivery, Tendulkar waved away the physio, hit the next ball for four and went on to make 57. A match-saving innings in Sidhu’s company, a display of mind over matter.

* 11. 111 vs South Africa in Wanderers (1992): High on confidence and batting with the intrepidness of youth, Tendulkar drove SA ragged and forced the great Allan Donald to bowl with a sweeper cover in a Test match!

* 12. 140* vs Kenya in Bristol (1999 WC): Neither a great attack nor a particularly demanding test, but the situation made it special. He had airdashed to India for his father’s funeral, and returned to conjure a  touching masterpiece.

* 13. 186* vs New Zealand in Hyderabad (1999-2000): The highest one-day score by an Indian to date, a day when he could do nothing wrong. A lesson in attacking batsmanship. 

* 14. 49 vs Australia in Bangalore Test (2008-09): One ordinary tour of Sri Lanka, and the knives were being sharpened. With a determined innings on day 5, Sachin steered India to safety, and silenced the critics.

* 15. 241* vs Australia in Sydney (2003-04): Remarkable for the strokes he did not play. For the first 100-plus runs, the off-side didn’t exist because off-drives had proved his undoing in the first three Tests. A tribute to his mental strength.

* 16. 165 vs England in Chennai Test (1992-93): His first international hundred on Indian soil, more than three years after his debut. Brilliant strokeplay, and the innings triggered a continuing love affair with Chepauk.

*17. 155* vs Australia in Chennai Test (1997-98): Outfoxed by Shane Warne for four in the first innings, Tendulkar came out a man on a mission in the second, overturned a potentially decisive 70-run deficit and set up a stirring victory.

* 18. 44 vs West Indies in Port of Spain (1996-97): A low-scoring one-dayer on a spiteful surface, with Ambrose, Walsh, Rose and Bishop breathing fire. A counter-attacking knock that made batting look simple, though the Caribbeans’ greater depth carried them home.

* 19. 118* vs Zimbabwe in Sharjah (1998-99): Embarrassed by a lifter from Henry Olonga in the final league match that saw him caught at gully fending awkwardly, Tendulkar went out to bat in the final saying ‘either him or me’. No prizes for guessing who had the last laugh!

 * 20. 117* vs Australia in Sydney (tri-series final, 2007-08): Once again debunking the theory that he doesn’t score in Cup finals, Tendulkar scripted an intelligent run chase as India completed their first tri-series triumph in Australia.

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