Ten of Tendulkar's finest
Fifteen years after getting his first Test century, Sachin Tendulkar went past Sunil Gavaskar's record of 34 Test centuries. Cricinfo looks back at ten of his best three-figure knocks.
119 not out v England, Old Trafford, 1990
England pile up 519 on a benign pitch and India reply with 432. England stretch the lead to 407, and though the pitch is still good and the bowling (Malcolm, Fraser, Lewis, Hemmings) not terribly menacing, India find themselves in deep water at 127 for 5 with only one recognised batsman left. And he's only 17 years old. Tendulkar battles for nearly four hours, grimly but never dourly, and ends the day with 119. India lose only one more wicket, ending up with 343. With one more session, they might even have won.
148 v Australia, Sydney, 1991-91
It is Shane Warne's debut and Sachin Tendulkar, abetted by Ravi Shastri (206), give him a harsh welcome to international cricket. After Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar grab three wickets apiece to restrict Australia to 313, Tendulkar joins Shastri at the score on 201 and both plunder runs off Warne. A 197-run partnership ends when Shastri becomes Warne's first Test wicket but Tendulkar carries on to steer India to a vital 150-run lead as he remains unbeaten on 148, his first Test century in Australia. However despite Shastri's four-wicket haul, Australia hang on for a draw.
114 v Australia, Perth, 1991-92
The fastest pitch in Australia has been reserved for the last Test. India have been beaten already, only humiliation awaits. Batting first, Australia score 346. Tendulkar enters at a relatively comfortable 100 for 3, but watches the next five wickets go down for 59. Sachin is the next man out ... at 240. He has scored 118 of the 140 runs added while he was at the crease, and made them in such an awe-inspiring manner that commentators are asking themselves when they last saw an innings as good.
122 v England, Edgbaston 1996
India, opting to bat first, collapse to 214 before England ride on the Man-of-the-Match Nasser Hussain's fine 128 to gain a 99-run lead. On a third day's wicket offering uneven bounce India look set to crumble without a fight. No other batsman reaches even 20 as Tendulkar stands firm displaying superior technique, moving either back or forward with decisive footwork to make 122 off 177 balls.
169 v South Africa, Cape Town, 1996-97
Batting first, South Africa make a matchwinning 529. Playing only for honour, India find themselves groveling before Donald, Pollock, McMillan and Klusener. Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin get together at 58 for 5, and start spanking the bowling as if they were playing a club game in the park. They add 222 for the sixth wicket in less than two sessions, and Tendulkar has 26 boundaries in his score of 169. Even Donald says that he felt like clapping.
155 not out v Australia, MA Chidambaram Stadium, 1997-98
Seventy-one runs in arrears, India start the second innings and despite Navjot Singh Sidhu's 64 find themselves only 44 in front when Sachin Tendulkar joins Rahul Dravid. The duo has to contend with Shane Warne bowling from round the wicket and into the rough. Tendulkar, who has practiced against Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and a few other bowlers on artificially created rough patch before this series, decides to take apart Shane Warne. In a breathtaking assault, with the match hanging in balance, he deploys his unique slog sweeps against the spin to steer India past Australia and snatch a matchwinning 347-run lead.
Few Indian batting performances have been as heroic, or as tragic. Chasing 264 in the fourth innings of a low-scoring match, India experience a familiar top-order collapse and are sinking fast at 82 for 5. Tendulkar finds an able ally in Nayan Mongia, and rebuilds the innings in a painstaking, un-Tendulkarlike manner. After helping add 136 for the sixth wicket, Mongia departs to an ungainly pull, and Sachin's back is also giving way. Tendulkar shifts up a gear or two and starts dealing only in boundaries. But one error of judgment and it's all over. Saqlain Mushtaq defeats his intended lofted on-drive with a magical ball that drifts the other way, catches the outer part of Tendulkar's bat and balloons up to mid-off. The tail disgrace themselves and India fall short by a gut-wrenching 13 runs.
155 v South Africa, Bloemfontein, 2001-02
On the first day on an overseas series, India's plight is a familiar one - four down for 68, with all the wickets going just the way the South Africans expected - to rising balls. Tendulkar has a debutant for company, with another to follow. He takes 17 balls to score his first run, but 101 come off the next 97 deliveries. It isn't the prettiest of Tendulkar's Test tons, but it is one of the most savage, characterised by pulls and vicious upper-cuts. The South Africans have a plan for India, and Tendulkar makes a mockery of it. By the time Tendulkar's innings ended, India are reasonably well-placed, though they go on to lose the Test.
Trailing by 139 runs after the first innings, India are struggling to stay in the game at 87 for 4 when Tendulkar decides to stamp his class on the match. The full array of his strokeplay was on display as Tendulkar feasts on the West Indian attack with some gorgeous cover-drives and straight-drives. He finishes with 176 of the finest runs - including 26 fours peppered to all parts of Eden Garden - as India end up saving the match quite comfortably.
Tendulkar returns to form with a double-century, playing an innings which is quite distinct from any of his earlier efforts. After being caught driving outside off stump several times prior to this Test, here in a monk-like fashion, he abstains from any loose driving and collects his runs mainly on the on side. With Laxman in sublime form at the other end, Tendulkar chooses to hang on his back foot and slowly works his way to his then highest Test score. It doesn't give India victory, though, as Steve Waugh, playing his last Test, hangs on to enable Australia draw the game.