|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||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.
Gavin Larsen talks about wobbly seam-up, the 1992 World Cup, and his role in the next tournament
Ask Steven: Also, high scores and low averages in ODIs, most ducks in international cricket, and the 12-year-old Test player
Dickie Bird on what happened when he declined a request for a change of ball once
Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss VVS Laxman's match-winning skills
Jonathan Wilson: Runs and wickets matter little in games involving authors, seminarians and the like. It pays to keep your ears open
Also, the closest ODI team match-ups, most catches in a T20, and expensive Test debut five-fors
As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history
Hundred in a session? Easy peasy for Doug Walters