Happy Birthday Master, a perfect batsman who has linked two contrasting generation of Cricket.Such is his echelon, which is a brew of text book and unorthodox modern day cricketing shots.
In this space, I have quoted the nostalgic journey of the Master Blaster, in reference with his five best moments that remains fresh in my memories and would always relish my cricketing souvenir.
The Sharjah Storm(134):
The year was 1998. It was the night of the final, of Coca-Cola cup hosted at Sharjah. Winning the toss and electing to field, Indian bowlers gave a brisk start, but with the aid of some quality knocks from Steve Waugh and Darren Lehmann, Aussies managed a challenging 271. A run chase in the finals,a daunting target of 272,under lights. Sounds challenging, right!!?
Ofcourse, it was a mammoth task to Team India. After all it was era which never knew what T20 cricket was. Ganguly and Nayan Mongia adhered to their defensive instincts,playing a second fiddle to Sachin,who was looking absolutely confident from the word GO. He registered the fastest fifty of the tournament and continued his brisk scoring rate, en route to a well compiled century .His brilliant innings of 134 guided Team India to an exuberant victory .Thanks to a quick fire half century from Mohd. Azharudeen, which made sure that Sachin’s effort didn’t go in vain.
New year at SCG(241*):
It was a new year start. Sachin was having a poor run against Aussies in the Border-Gavsakar Trophy ,scoring a mere 82 runs in the previous 6 innings. Columnists were bashing him, and adding to his agony,the likes of Dravid,Laxman and Sehwag were performing well against the quality Australian bowlers. The entire focus was on the Master and he came flying out with a flamboyant knock. That was the very first test match of the new year, a farewell test to the great Steve Waugh, and the Master rightly chose this platform to play one of the excellent innings of his career.Never easy to come out of the ashes ,but this man rose to the occasion ,just like a phoenix.The straight dirves and stylish flicks were glorious,but it was the upper cut that was the highlight of the match.Brett Lee was steaming in at his high 140kmps,and it was an brilliant bouncer aimed at the Master,but the way in which he dealt with, speaks volume of the concentration he spends in sighting the ball.To me,it was the most stylish shot of the match.He started his new year with a brilliant 241,followed with an attacking 60 in the second innings and more importantly ,he was not dismissed in both the innings.
World Cup 2003 (98):
One of the brisk innings of Sachin’s career and it was exhibited against a furious attack of Wasim Akram,Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis,as India were left to chase 274. The intensity in this match and the build up was way too huge as India locked horns with their arch rivals Pakistan in a World Cup encounter.This innings will always be remembered for the Master’s attacking stroke play. The audacity in his shots looked as if he was in a different stroking zone.The pace at which the deliveries were dispatched to the fence showed the extent of his ferocious batting.He made sure that he gave a start to India’s chase in such a grand style with which his team could never go into a spot of bother.Akram and co ran out of ideas in front of his magnum-opus performance .Unfortunately he missed out on a deserving century, as his cramping limps paved way for Akhtar who sneaked in to Sachin’s concentration and dismissed him with a very well-directed bouncer. Dravid and Kaif saw India home as Team India dominated Pakistan for a yet another time in a world cup clash.
Centurion at the Centurion( 50th test ton) :
It was the winters of 2010.Team India toured South Africa to play a 3 match test series.The first match of the series kick started at Centurion. It was poor display of batting from Team India as SA bowlers dominated the Indian batsmen. Unfortunately Indian bowlers were also a letdown as SA scored a humongous 600+ score in their first innings, leaving behind a huge deficit to chase down. Gambhir and Sehwag gave a good start, followed by a steady innings from Rahul Dravid, but it was the Master who again shot into limelight with a matured knock. During the course of this innings he became the first player in the history of test cricket to cross 14,500 runs and continued his efforts to become the first man to reach the feat of fifty test tons. Sadly, India ended up on a losing side .They conceded a major first innings lead, as the efforts of MSD, Sehwag, Gambhir and Dravid along with a splendid century from Sachin wasn’t enough to save an innings defeat.
First ODI double ton( 200*):
The crowd at Gwalior had absolutely no clue on what they are were about to witness, when Sehwag and Sachin paired up yet again to open the innings against a stealthy SA pace attack. It was the second match of the series, with India winning the first match with a very narrow margin of one run. The contest was evenly poised. But yet another time Sachin outblazed his prowess to showcase one of the finest knocks the ODI arena has ever seen. It was well determined and almost a flawless knock. The way he tormented Steyn’s bowling was top notch, as he got into a great position to flick and hook the balls. And when Parnell was introduced, he used the angle of his bowling to guide the bad balls to the fence. But the significant part of this innings was his calucation, especially in the death overs.He was cramped up and he did the right thing by providing more of strike to MS Dhoni,who could strike the ball brutally in the death overs and Sachin took a second fiddle,which helped him to reach his landmark as well allowed Team India to post a target of 401. To brief it, it was an innings in which Sachin showed a lot of character as he played a long innings in an attacking way.
And of course there are lot of knocks which are so special. After all,a century of centuries is more than an achievement. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SACHIN.