No. 25

Sachin ties 'em down

Six needed off the last over? Not on my life. Tendulkar bowls the perfect last over

Dileep Premachandran

June 7, 2009

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Tendulkar enjoying practice in the nets at Headingley  after the match between Yorkshire and India at Harrogate was  abandoned due to water on the pitch, 9 May 1999
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Calcutta, 24 November 1993

Sachin Tendulkar had provided evidence of his steely nerve two years earlier at the WACA, picking up the final wicket against West Indies to give India the most improbable of ties. Now, when Brian McMillan's bold hitting threatened to silence a large crowd at the Eden Gardens, it was once again Tendulkar whom Mohammad Azharuddin turned to. For South Africa the match had appeared lost when Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja precipitated a slide to 145 for 7, but then McMillan and Dave Richardson added 44 to leave South Africa needing just six from the final over.

Two seasons earlier, at the same venue, on South Africa's return to the international game, Tendulkar had hit a brilliant half-century to thwart an inspired Allan Donald-led defence of a low total. But this afternoon, he had done little with the bat, making just 15.

Azhar's unexpected gambit perplexed many, but it also got the crowd buzzing. Richardson had been run out in the previous over, but South Africa didn't learn any lessons. With Tendulkar bowling seam-up, McMillan attempted two off the opening delivery. Fanie de Villiers was run out going for the second, which brought in Donald to face a baying crowd and an excited Tendulkar.

de Villiers' skill with the ball didn't quite extend to willow-wielding, and with Vijay Yadav providing plenty of advice and encouragement from behind the stumps, Tendulkar reeled off three successive dot-balls. Donald managed to scamper a single off the penultimate delivery, and McMillan was left needing to wallop four for victory. Azhar took his time setting the field, and with the noise building to an ear-splitting crescendo, Tendulkar gambolled in. McMillan had an almighty heave but didn't connect cleanly, and though the batsmen ran a single - McMillan chastising himself furiously - it was the Indians who raised the roof.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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