Pakistan v India, 3rd ODI, Lahore, 2005-06 April 25, 2010

When the tough got going

The pitch and Asif were playing tricks, but they were up against a wizened master

It wasn't the best of times for Sachin Tendulkar in Pakistan. The enduring image of the Test series had been one of his almost squatting on the crease as a Mohammad Asif delivery cut back to make a mess of his stumps. "Endulkar" crowed a headline back home, and though he scored a century in the opening one-day game in Peshawar, India still lost. They fought back in Rawalpindi, and the series was still up for grabs when Shoaib Malik went out and smashed a superb hundred at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. India needed 289 to win, and it seemed a long way away as Asif packed off both Gautam Gambhir and Irfan Pathan on a pitch juiced up under floodlights.

He bowled wonderfully with that fluid action, getting the ball to dart this way and that, and Tendulkar's first stroke was a miscue out on to the leg side. From the outset, it was obvious that the stand-and-deliver tactics common on the subcontinent wouldn't work. Tendulkar responded with impeccable judgement. Asif continued to bring the ball back into him, and each time he shouldered arms there were oohs and aahs. In Asif's third over, Tendulkar left every delivery, except for a no-ball that was pulled powerfully for four.

While Rahul Dravid was being made to look like a fumbling amateur at the other end, Tendulkar left, cut, drove and pulled with authority. There were moments of luck, edges to third man, and the odd mistimed drive, in an innings otherwise marked by patience and terrific shot selection.

By the time Asif's six-over spell ended, the storm had abated, and when a powerful cut off Rana Naved-ul-Hasan burst through Asif's hands at third man and went for six, you knew how the game would go. Tendulkar finished with 95, the century denied by a lofted cut to backward point, and India romped home.

"I thought it was one of his best [innings]," said Dravid later. "There are so many he has played but this was really a special one." Two months later, the man himself told me the same thing.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo.
This article was first published in the Wisden Cricketer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sudhir on April 27, 2010, 17:42 GMT

    @Usman Khan : I never said Imran is not classy. I was pointing out to Sachin baiters to recognize his class and I was highlighting the point that someone made that Sachin plays for money

    But all said and done : in the top few players of all time Sachin will make it , Imran won't

  • Bheem on April 27, 2010, 6:21 GMT

    The 2 drops were half-chances; neither was off Asif's bowling and neither was in the tough first 10 overs. 1st was a powerful square cut off Rana that burst thro' Asif's hands at 3rd man for 6...maybe a Rhodes or Devilliers would catch that...Pakistan have never had any. The 2nd was down the leg side off Gul...a good keeper would take that...but then Pakistan have Akmal. Tendulkar did play and miss due to the conditions, but he got through that and then played some brilliant strokes. An innings worth watching indeed.

  • AMRUTH on April 27, 2010, 3:13 GMT

    2 catches dropped off Asif's bowling, Sachin plain lucky! laugable, no bowler can bowl same delivery twice, some times even they are lucky, ball hitting something on the pitch and deviates, part of the game. Praising Imran Khan... Good! forgot the World Cup 1999 Pakistan were plain lucky indeed, I mean Rain God saved them and Inzy made sure that they won the World Cup later on.

  • Kinesh on April 27, 2010, 0:47 GMT

    It's so sad to hear cricket fans argue whose the best of all time and fans slagging off cricket players because they want to, or try to prove why one is better than the other. The innings was great, granted Akmal dropped two but that happens look at all other batsman's scores where they have been dropped and gone on to make large scores. Fans love to say things that may not be true but believe its true.....the fact that Murali throws and there's no question about this bowling action, people still regard him one of the does it matter if Sachin hasn't helped in winning....not really....many of his peers regard him and Murali one of the best....stop arguing who is better.....remember Sachin is a batsman and Imran is a a complete cricketer, obviously Imran is better because he bowls and bats but as a true batsman Sachin is better. One more thing to say any cricketer is selfish is stupid and indicates that you're jealous of their position.

  • Harsh on April 27, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    Post your comments in 1000 characters *Enter All Cricket Time-Pass Talk Here*

  • Dummy4 on April 27, 2010, 0:07 GMT

    ... and some of you are forgetting that Imran Khan was a specialist all-rounder, while Sachin is a specialist batsman. So comparing the averages or wickets wont show who's a better cricketer. I personally think the fearless nature of Imran Khan as a leader and how he rallied his troops and carried the team forward is priceless. The rest lies in difference of opinion. Some will say Imran, others who havent seen much of him would say Sachin.

  • Billy on April 26, 2010, 23:37 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar has struggled in the past to win games for his country. In recent years, his contributions to victories have been more significant and that has corresponded with his side going to No.1 in the rankings. I can remember a time when India could not win a series away from home. They had enormous batting strength but could never close out a series. Sachin and the rest of the batting lineup were the culprit on many occasions, not the bowlers.

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2010, 21:51 GMT

    @zxaar: You probably havent seen much of Imran. I suggest you get at some archive footage and watch some of it. Imran Khan was just pure class!

    and I really dont get why people are making comparisons over here. Both Imran and Sachin are great cricketers in their own right. I dont think theres any doubt in that. and any cricket follower should know that. simple!

    and @Sudhir29: You definitely dont know class if you dont think Imran Khan was classy.

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    I have my doubt if Mr. Premachandran watched the match ( I know it is supposed to be the best i've watched).Sachin was dropped twice initially and did play and miss couple of times. The basic trouble with people like Mr. Premachandran is their tendency to glorify Sachin so much that it puts one off. No doubt he is one of the greatest ( or perhaps the greatest) batsman, but to say "While Rahul Dravid was being made to look like a fumbling amateur at the other end, Tendulkar left, cut, drove and pulled with authority" is not only going overboard but also pretty demeaning to the other great player who was at the crease with Sachin.

  • arjun on April 26, 2010, 21:17 GMT

    "zxar do u even know about cricket. cricket starts from Imran Khan and ends at IMRAN khan sachin would b a kid infront of him. Imran Khan is the greatest, allroundr, captain and cricketer ever. PERIOD" ------------- greatest , huh. averages in 30s and had scored only 7 centuries in both forms. You want to know what allrounder is , look at kallis. Rightly no-one ever remember imran khan and give 5 more years and even you will forget about him. As far as sachin is concerned he is best modern cricket has seen. His records won't be broken so , he is going to stay as ever as you can talk about records. Imran the greatest. What a joke.

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