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October 17, 2008
At 2.31pm on a hot Mohali Friday, Sachin Tendulkar steered Peter Siddle towards the third-man boundary for three runs to break Brian Lara's record for most Test runs. The record stood for nearly two years after Lara played his final Test and it was inevitable that Tendulkar would eventually break it. As the day progressed Tendulkar scored his 50th half-century and became the first player to cross the 12,000-run mark.
The disappointingly small crowd, built largely of school kids, immediately got on its feet to salute the feat, and fireworks, which continued for three minutes, went off at the PCA Stadium. Tendulkar raised his bat in the air, took his helmet off, and looked up at the sky, as is his routine when he gets to a hundred. Almost all the Australians, wherever placed in the field, came to congratulate him. Ricky Ponting, the man most likely to challenge his status of being the top run-getter, was the first man to shake his hand. Sourav Ganguly, Tendulkar's partner at the nonstriker's end, reminded him that he was there when he scored his record 35th Test century.
This also brought an end to the soap-opera-type frenzied anticipation for the record. Tendulkar was expected to overtake Lara in Sri Lanka recently, but he endured a poor series with the bat, scoring just 95 runs in three Tests. Then in the series-opener in Bangalore, during a fine match-saving effort in the second innings, it seemed he would get to the record, but he gifted his wicket when 15 short.
Even today the anxiety around was palpable. During the time he got to 15, India lost two wickets in moving from 146 to 179 in 10.2 overs. While he scored at a fair rate, he didn't get nearly as much strike during the period as he would have wanted. While he played 23 balls, VVS Laxman and Ganguly faced 19 each. It was fitting, in a way, that he achieved the record against Australia, a team he has tormented several times in the past.
Coincidentally, Lara too achieved the world record against Australia, when he went past Allan Border's tally of 11,174 runs during the Adelaide Test in 2005. They remain the only three players to cross the 11,000-run mark in Tests. Though it is uncertain how long Tendulkar will prolong his Test career - which has lasted 19 years - the two players who stand the best chance of beating his eventual tally are Rahul Dravid (10,302) and Ponting (10,239).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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