The ultimate ODI innings
A barrier that had not been breached in 2961 one-day internationals finally fell in Gwalior, and it was fitting that the batsman with the most ODI runs became the first to touch 200 in an innings. Just how extraordinary Sachin Tendulkar's innings was can be gauged from the fact that he had already reached 191 by the end of the 45th over, and was able to cruise to the landmark despite facing only nine deliveries out of the last 30.
The pitch map to Tendulkar tells how clueless South Africa's bowlers were against him: their lengths varied from very short balls to those which were knee-high full tosses, but nothing worked, as Tendulkar hammered boundaries off deliveries which were banged in halfway down the pitch and those which were full tosses.
Tendulkar's stats against each bowler show just how thoroughly he dominated them: none of them went for less than one run per ball, while Wayne Parnell went at very nearly two per ball. Charl Langeveldt was the best of the lot, conceding only 30 from 28. Of the 25 fours he struck - a record in ODIs - seven each came off Steyn and Parnell, while van der Merwe conceded five.
|Roelof van der Merwe||43||32||134.37|
Tendulkar's innings was a perfect lesson in pacing an innings. He got into his groove almost from the start - the most dot balls he played in a row was four, at the very beginning of his innings, when he didn't score from Dale Steyn's first over. Thereafter, he made up for those dots almost immediately, scoring successive fours to get off the mark, and getting 33 off his first 25 deliveries. He slowed slightly in the middle of his innings, scoring 50 runs between deliveries 51 and 100, but then he went into overdrive soon after, scoring 83 in his last 47 deliveries.
The small and fast outfield meant Tendulkar got 59% of his runs in fours and sixes (25 fours and three sixes), but he also did his share of running between the wickets, taking 56 singles and 13 twos. Only 34% of the deliveries he faced (50 out of 147) didn't fetch him a run.
Tendulkar finished with a strike rate of 136.05, which is the second-fastest of his 46 ODI centuries, but the best against a top-class team - against Kenya in the 1999 World Cup he scored an unbeaten 140 off 101 balls, a strike rate of 138.61. Comparing this knock to other 150-plus scores, Tendulkar's strike rate is in eighth place, with the two efforts in that unforgettable Johannesburg game taking the top two spots.
Tendulkar's hundred takes his overall century tally in international cricket to 93, of which ten have come in 34 innings in the last 12 months. It's been a phenomenal 12-month period, and at this rate a century of centuries could be his before the year is done.