Monday, December 12, 2005

Prodigy Keeps His Promise...

I was just glad to be home on Saturday evening. I was also a little sad to not have been able to put up the news up on my blog immediately; personal commitments take a priority at times. Watching him get the record–breaking run on the on-side, my mind went through a whole gamut of emotions and memories started flashing back.

  • His baptism into the world of cricket in Pakistan 1989; facing the fearsome foursome- Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Abdul Qadir
  • His heartbreak on missing his first test hundred Vs NZ,1990 when he got out at 88
  • His joy on getting his first test hundred at Old Trafford,1990 that helped India draw the match
  • His emergence as one of the world’s best when he made the whole world sit up and take notice of him, through his two scintillating knocks on the tour down under in 91-92. The II4 at Perth, then what was the fastest track in the world, a terror for batsman, will be etched in memory forever
  • His run-out in the first test at Durban, 1992. That made him the first batsman in the history of test-cricket to be given out by the third umpire.
  • Two hundreds in 1996 series in England, the series that saw the emergence of two stars who would be his men-in-arms for the years to follow.
  • The 169 Vs SA, 1996 . The fantastic partnership with Azhar. What a counter-attack! I can never forget his reaction when Adam Bacher plucked the ball out of thin air. He simply refused to budge from the pitch.
  • The attack on Shane Warne in the 1998 series at home. The first round at Chennai went to Warne. He knew he had hurried too fast in the first innings. What we saw in the second innings was a calculated assault. Eden saw a glimpse of the brilliance followed by a masterful 177 at Bangalore. His best year ever, in international cricket.
  • Finally in 1999 his wait ended. It took him 79 ODIs to wait for his first century, and a nice 10 years to get his double in test-cricket. He finally achieved it on home soil in Ahmedabad Vs NZ,1999. A fine knock of 217.
  • But then came the slump. The forgettable 1999 Aus Tour , the series loss at home to SA, 2000, and the test loss to Pakistan at Chennai,1999. Though he remained his consistent self, as a captain it was shattering; especially the 136 at Chennai. Fighting all odds, a stinging back-pain, and seeing the last 4 wickets failing to make the 16 runs left. That was one hell of a heart-wrenching match. For the first time I think he cried and was open about it. I think it still hurts him.
  • He came around it though to make amends, back to his favourite hunting ground. 125 Vs Aus in Chennai, 2001, was as priceless as any other knock of his.
  • He followed with superlative innings of 193 at Headingley Vs England 2002, 241* Vs Aus, Sydney,2004. Such discipline in that knock, held back his natural instinct to hit on the up and to drive the ball, such resilience! 194* Vs Pak, 2004.
  • His 34th century was not Vs an opponent he would have fancied, but nevertheless it was a milestone. He came close to the record breaking one against Pak in the series at home earlier this year but it was not to be; sometimes God has been pretty cruel to him, and some records have not come his way that soon or easy
  • Finally he achieved his record-breaking century in his 125th test match. His reaction was one we rarely see him express. He punched his fist when he was in the middle of the pitch, off came the helmet , hands and bat raised, and kept looking up to the heavens, the bat came down to his chest, a kiss on the bat and there was so much relief and happiness. He had really waited for this moment for long. The whole stadium and the entire nation had erupted to celebrate this moment.
    It was a well paced innings. He started a little edgy but settled in slowly and as he went on to play a little longer he accelerated really well. The three fours of Murali in an over were just the same as he played in his old days; the cheekiness and the confidence was back.

When he made his debut; almost everyone who saw him predicted his greatness. It takes something to live up to all those expectations. There are still some complaints about him, but I’ll keep that aside. It takes a genius to sustain the consistency for 16 long years and yet, he is not finished with the game. He is back with a renewed vigor and more lies in store.

He has kept his promise with the nation 16 years down the line; after he started out as a 16 year-old prodigy. Yes, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, we would simply like to take a bow for providing us such fine moments to be proud of, may you give us some more.
We simply don’t seem to have enough!

5 comments:

Sujatha said...

Wow! Your memory is prodigious!

Tugga said...

Oi Minu what bleeding slump on the Aus tour of '99? He played superbly, and a collective team failure or failure as captain is by no means a slump against his name.

I have had the pleasure of watching some of his best knocks, and just to list them, this would be the order,

a) 114 Perth- For someone who had never played there and for the way he scored it ( I remember watching that knock, watching him rising up on his toes and cutting Mcdermott, Hughes and Whitney who was exploiting the Freemantle Doctor as well as anyone I've ever seen)

b) 165 Chennai-His first century in India. For sheer quality of strokes. I remember at least 4-5 off-drives hit off the back foot to the boundary...bliss

c) 84 Mumbai 1994- Pathetic track, Sachin batted like God.

d) 119? 1996 Edgbaston- Bad track, up and down as well as lateral movement, a failing batting line up around him, and the panache of his strokemaking.

e) 169 1997 Cape Town- A straight drive he hit of Donald got to the fence before he had completed his follow through

f) 155* 1998 Chennai- Australia. The scene of so many of his glorious knocks. Set the tone for the series.

g) 136 1999 Chennai- Pakistan. Saw only part of it live, but heartbreaking, and as Harsha so aptly put in an article in TSS, another Greek Tradgedy to go with Gavaskar, Bangalore, 1987

h) 76 Mumbai 2001- Not a hundred, but flawless in execution up until the point he edged Pidge. This one was special because I saw it at the Wankhede, and remember Sachin hitting an on drive and a straight drive, both of the back foot towards where I sat.

i) 194* Multan- Crucial partnership with VS, restrained, so different from his earlier best knocks, yet brilliant.

Sorry for the long comment:-) Post your fav innings played by Sachin, should be an interesting read.

Minal said...

@Sujatha: Thanks:-)Well it's a result of years of watching cricket, discussions with friends, love for the game and yup the players too:-)

@Tugga: I meant the slump as a captain not as a batsman.
Boss you got most of my favourites covered there. I too mentioned most of them in this article as well!
114 at Perth will always be high up on my list cause it was his first century that I caught live and every ball. Also considering the track conditions, it takes immense talent and genius to play that kind of an innings Vs the Aus attack on the then fastest track in the world at a tender age of 18!

I did not list the 84 Vs WI '94 and 76 at Mumbai Vs Aus '01 only cause I decided to pay a tribute to his centuries. The 88 mentioned cause it was the first time he got closer to achieving it.
But the two above rank as much high as any of his centuries, having caught both of them live. Remember our discussion post day 1 of '01, he played some vintage Tendulkar shots that day. The straight drive of the back-foot but obviously taking the cake!

136 I caught ball-by-ball on radio, we were in college then!Still recollect that moment, we were waiting in the quadrangle and all went just quiet when he got out!There was silence all around in the quad!

I would also add 241* Vs Aus in Sydney,2004. That was one of the most controlled Tendulkar innings I have seen. He was so determined not to get out while going for his shots on the off-side that he held back most of them. It was not his usual knock but it was a gritty one at best.

Apart that you have listed down all my favourites as well, having had the pleasure of seeing most of them live/or followed on radio.

Long comments most welcome, if they going to be this interesting;-)

U know who!!! :-) said...

Tugga.. aka.. saurabh... stop showing off in front of Sujatha! Just cos she praises minu doesnt mean u jump in there to show your "great" knowledge!!! :-)

Tugga said...

Mangesh, piss off mate!