|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Games||Mobile|
First came a six, then a four, then divine magic
September 13, 2009
Centurion, 1 March 2003
This was a match Tendulkar said he was compelled to live a year in advance. Everywhere he went, people reminded him about the 1st of March, the fixture against Pakistan. Consequently he did not sleep properly for 12 nights leading up.
Facing a handsome target, Tendulkar shed his pent-up anxiety with three strokes in Shoaib's opening over to jumpstart a classic innings. The first of them - reaching out (were he not so pumped up, he would have surely let it pass for a wide), at once cutting and tipping, very high over the square third-man boundary - would become an icon, for cricketing merit; its sheer thrill, and nationalist symbolism, a sort of belated rebuff to the Miandad six.
The second stroke was his lovely trademark - back in the crease and with swirling wrists diverting a reasonable delivery to square leg. But the third shot - the third shot.
A little trot across to off stump, block, down the ground to the on, four. No back-lift, no follow-through: none needed. I have never seen such a concisely expressed cricket stroke. He simply met the ball and the entire execution began there and finished there. And by now the crowd, the most vividly alive of the tournament, had gone quite wild. Visually it was like a cinematic special effect: everything moved in a blur - flags, roars, horns, waves, the ball, Shoaib - and amid it Sachin and his pure stroke appeared magically frozen.
Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of Pundits from Pakistan: On Tour with India, 2003-04. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo MagazineFeeds: Rahul Bhattacharya
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Gleanings: Former England fast bowler Chris Old talks about Brearley's captaincy, run-ins with Boycott, and Headingley '81
Numbers Game: Michael Clarke has the better overall average, while Alastair Cook's overseas record is better
Jarrod Kimber: Two very different men in their 100th Test lead their countries with the Ashes at stake
Ed Smith: In separating sportsmen into two distinct categories - tough men and cowards - we miss the whole truth
Ahmer Naqvi: He may be all the rage but to a hipster-connoisseur of fast bowling, he's not quite the real deal
Till 1992 there was no thought about South Africa playing in the World Cup, but Mandela's words changed that immediately. Such was the power of Mandela
Having troubled the English batsmen with his speed and accuracy, Mitchell Johnson is now preparing for the mind games ahead of the third Ashes Test in Perth
Mitchell Johnson may not be a gigantic, horned, fire-breathing dragon with seven heads - but he could not have done much more damage if he were
Two very different men will have the honour of captaining their countries in their 100th Test with the Ashes at stake