No. 39

Tendulkar smacks Shoaib around

First came a six, then a four, then divine magic

Rahul Bhattacharya

September 13, 2009

Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar upper-cuts Shoaib Akhtar, India v Pakistan, World Cup, Centurion, 1 March, 2003
The first cut: the six over third man © Getty Images
Enlarge
Related Links
Players/Officials: Sachin Tendulkar
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Cup
Teams: India | Pakistan
Other links: 50 Magic Moments

Centurion, 1 March 2003

Sachin Tendulkar has never batted better than in the World Cup of 2003, and during it never better than for three famous deliveries against Shoaib Akhtar in Centurion.

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 Magazine

RSS Feeds: Rahul Bhattacharya

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Rahul BhattacharyaClose
Rahul Bhattacharya Author of Pundits from Pakistan: On Tour with India, 2003-04

'Ponting was an instinctive, aggressive player'

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Ricky Ponting's technique

    MacLeod spells hope for Scotland

Allrounder Calum MacLeod's return from a faulty action is key to Scotland's World Cup hopes. By Tim Wigmore

The Australian who dares to attack spin

From lead spinner and No. 8, Steven Smith has become a central figure in the batting line-up. By Brydon Coverdale

    'Gibbs used to toss the ball like a basketball'

My XI: Erapalli Prasanna on the West Indian offspinner who had a killer instinct

Cricket's humanity resists specialisation

Jon Hotten: While major sports across the world are driving their competitors towards homogenous physical ideals, cricket seems to celebrate diversity

News | Features Last 7 days

Manic one-day chases, and daddy partnerships

Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries

Has international cricket begun to break up?

The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams

Well worth the wait

Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin

Younis Khan and the art of scoring hundreds

Out of 70 batsmen who've scored 15 or more Test hundreds only five are from Pakistan, but Younis Khan's appetite for hundreds matches that of some of the top contemporary batsmen

Australia outdone in every way

Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing

News | Features Last 7 days

    Has international cricket begun to break up? (83)

    The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams

    Australia outdone in every way (51)

    Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing

    Lyon low after high of 2013 (50)

    The offspinner was Australia's highest wicket-taker in 2013, but his form has dipped sharply this year

    Well worth the wait (36)

    Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin

    No Ajmal, no problem for Pakistan (33)

    When a team loses its best bowler, it is expected that the team's performance will suffer. As usual, Pakistan defied the expectations