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Sachin Tendulkar's 50th Test century

My Favourite Sachin Hundred

With the Little Master reaching an unprecedented 50 centuries, we asked his team-mates to pick the best of the lot

Interviews by Nagraj Gollapudi

December 19, 2010

Comments: 103 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar overcomes the challenges of a fast WACA pitch, Australia v India, 5th Test, February 1-5, 1992
Sachin Tendulkar was only 18 when he carted 114 runs on a fast and furious WACA pitch © Mid Day
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Rahul Dravid: 116 in Melbourne, 1999
To me this was a special hundred because he was captain of the team and we were struggling as a unit in that series and not playing particularly good cricket. And here was Tendulkar, facing up to a good bowling attack comprising Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming, Brett Lee and Shane Warne, and standing tall when nobody else was scoring runs. He was in total control.

For a long part of his career, he had some other experienced batsmen around him, but that was a time when a lot of us were young and none of us were playing well. He had to carry the team on his own, and he did it beautifully. In some ways it was a Lara-esque innings because [Brian] Lara for a long time had to carry the side on his own. And the pressure is never easy. It was definitely not the toughest wicket he batted on but the atmosphere at the MCG and batting without any support was just brilliant. As a leader he was under tremendous pressure and to come in and make a terrific century was really a standout innings.

Anil Kumble 241* in Sydney, 2004, 155 v Australia in Chennai, 1998

How do you choose a favourite from one of fifty? There are actually two that I find most memorable, both versus Australia, one in 1998 and the other in 2004. To me they were about the essence of Sachin's greatness as a batsman which is more than about how many runs he scores - his greatness is in how quickly he adjusts to conditions, wickets, bowling, and his understanding in what he needs to do to score those runs.

Before the Sydney innings, he was getting out outside the off stump in the series and he decided that won't happen again. He didn't score a boundary on the off side, didn't hit a cover drive. He waited for the ball to come to him, picked it off and clipped it to midwicket all the way not just to three figures, but a double hundred. In Chennai, he practiced playing the ball from the rough because he knew Shane Warne was coming, and was supposed to be Australia's biggest threat. When the game began, he was ready.

In the Centurion first innings, it was a damp wicket, but he was the best of the batsmen, he looked comfortable till he got out. That's greatness. You can often tell as soon as he begins that he's going to get a big one. You can make that out. I watched his 50th Test century from when he was about 40 and I knew this was going to be the day. He looked determined, focussed.

It's hard to pick a favourite from his 50 Test hundreds, each have their own story about this kind of preparation and adjustment and thought.

VVS Laxman: 114 in Perth, 1992
I was young and watched that innings on TV and it became very, very special immediately and it still remains so. For somebody on his first tour of Australia, especially when the team is not doing well, and to score a century on a fiery track like Perth at a tender age said a lot about Tendulkar's talent. Some of the shots he played showed glimpses of a great batsman at work, particularly the ones he played off Merv Hughes. For a short guy, on a bouncy track, against a quick bowler and to play on the up, you have to have a lot of talent to do that. He displayed that in abundance during that century. He remained positive even as the wickets fell around him and play naturally. He dominated the Australian bowlers easily. Even to a youngster then it became clear how special Sachin was.

Javagal Srinath: 114 in Perth, 1992
It was a wicket where there were a lot of cracks. It was quick and really fast, as the WACA was famous for in those days. There was no player who could really face the Australian attack. Tendulkar was just 18 or something and he was not only able to stand up to the bowling but bat aggressively. The ball was deviating left, right and centre from the cracks. No-one really knew how the ball would travel after pitching. But Tendulkar encountered it with such aplomb that it became the highlight of that series in many ways, even though we lost the Test.

My other favourite Tendulkar century was against South Africa in Johannesburg against Allan Donald and Brian McMillan at their fastest on a very pacy Wanderers' pitch. Another top-pick is the terrific century against Pakistan in Chennai in 1999. It was a case of mind over matter, and handling the pressure every ball.

John Wright: 126 vs Australia, Chennai 2001
The hundred I'll always remember is his 126 versus Australia in Chennai in 2001. Counting back, it was his twenty-fifth hundred, at what was to be a halfway stage that we wouldn't have thought about then. It was a big, big game, against the world's champion team, a Test that was going to decide the series, a contest between some greats of the modern game - Warne, McGrath and Sachin. I think he just loved that stage. He had come into that series in good form, and was batting beautifully, even though he had not got a century in the series until Chennai . The word was the Aussies had been thinking about that, that Tendulkar's big knock was due. It was coming.

There was also a lot of talk about how India depended too much on him. For me, though, the outsider who had come into Indian cricket without any baggage, you never picked that up inside the changing room. There was an overall confidence all the way through the team, its batsmen and its bowlers.

 
 
Sachin's greatness as a batsman is more than about how many runs he scores - his greatness is in how quickly he adjusts to conditions, wickets, bowling, and his understanding in what he needs to do to score those runs Anil Kumble
 

The Aussies won the toss and put up a big first-innings score and we knew that we had to get close to it to get a foothold in the game. It was our big player who pulled out his big innings, which gave us a chance to win that game. When he came in we were about 180 behind Australia, and when he was out, India were 77 in front. I remember him hitting Colin Miller for a six to reach his hundred. The ball went over long-on into the far end of the ground. We were sitting in our viewing area with spectators on two sides of us, behind us, and on our right, and the celebration was wild. And loud. As much as we may see batsmen hitting sixes to reach centuries now, something like that was rarely done ten years ago. It was wonderful, emphatic, a statement. He was up against McGrath, Warne, Gillespie and the world's best team. It was hot and sweltering, we were sweating buckets sitting out in the viewing area and the crowd was packed in to every inch of the ground. And then, there was Sachin batting for us, batting for them.

Sanjay Manjrekar: 114 in Perth, 1992
This has been the toughest assignment for me as an Indian cricket observer. So, I have tried to simplify the task by giving myself a few important parameters to be guided by.

It's got to be an innings played against a good bowling attack in challenging conditions. Second, it's got to be a performance that rises above all the others in that innings. Third, well, it's got be pretty to look at.

After applying all the above conditions, I have picked the 114 runs that Tendulkar made against Australia at Perth in 1992 as a 18-year-old as my favourite Tendulkar innings. Because I was also playing that game, it was a prime candidate for my selection. Now Perth to Indian batsmen, at the time, was the ultimate Test. For players weaned on pitches where the ball bounced knee-high, the regular chest-high bounce in Perth made life very difficult.

India got 272 in the first innings. Pace and bounce did India in once again on that fateful tour. Tendulkar with just over two years of Test experience, strode out and almost casually got a brilliant hundred. He batted on that pitch as if it was his school, Shardashram's, net pitch. He looked at home on it.

I remember forgetting for a while that I was a player in that team. I came out of our dressing room and watched that innings like any cricket fan would. Tendulkar by that time in his career had showed signs of greatness. That afternoon he confirmed his greatness.

He scored at a strike rate of 70.8, and he was unstoppable. Anything that was short of length around the off stump, which is the basic area of attack at the international level was driven through the covers off the back foot for four. We watched in awe as we saw one of the first Indian batsmen to hit good balls for boundaries on a regular basis. Anything that was pitched up was driven off the front foot by Tendulkar. There were a few 'short-arm pulls' added as a garnish on that innings. The short-arm pull was a shot rarely played by Indian batsmen then.

The bowlers were clearly rattled, so they wisely focused on the batsmen at the other end, who were more obliging. It was clearly a case, in that innings, of a batsman seemingly batting against a different attack on a different pitch from the rest of us.

That innings was played 18 years ago. He has now got 47 hundreds after that. But this is still the one that does it for me.

Navjot Sidhu: 114 in Perth, 1992
The ball was really bouncing around that day. Normally for a short-statured man it is very difficult to face the short ball, but the consummate ease with which Tendulkar played those horizontal cut shots on that pitch was amazing. Even a good length ball was rising over the top of the stumps, but Tendulkar showed his mastery with his wrists - he played the pull shot, cuts and flick using the wrists beautifully on the fastest pitch at the time - in a way proving how great he already was at the age.

With inputs from Sharda Ugra

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Aniruddha_K on (December 25, 2010, 18:13 GMT)

I have to say the innings of 116 at the MCG is ,for me, his best hundred. Many rate his 114 on a bouncy Perth wicket as the best but I think 116 was a better knock. Firstly he was under immense pressure as the captain and we were 1-0 down in the series.What's more our openers provided what was then a usual start for an Indian team playing overseas.He came in at 11-2. The conditions were overcast, the outfield was slow and there were no boundary ropes.The fence of the MCG was the boundary and that is some distance. No other batsman was playing well, which meant wickets kept falling around him and what's more he had to reckon with Mcgrath,Warne and Brett Lee at their best.Yes the wicket wasn't a seamers' paradise or anything but to come up with an innings like that was phenomenal. That knock was worth atleast 150 any other day. It was a combination of his brilliant batsmanship and his mental toughness...

Posted by rugveda78 on (December 25, 2010, 14:55 GMT)

Well, we should not forget the 136 in Chennai against Pakistan in January 1999. It too was pure determination, although we lost the match, it clearly highlighted that the entire team couldn't do what he could have done had he been able to last 17 more runs. He was battling the now infamous back-injury, the Pak bowling attack was never going to be easy and a pressure situation which was quite tricky. We had one more day to go and just about 17 runs when he got out to a tired shot. One would say, he could have defended and played cautiously, but he was tired and more importantly injured. I can still remember the pain on his face when he hit a boundary before he got out. Still he preferred to play only to succumb under the pressure of expectations. Apart from that, his 196* in Pakistan when Rahul Dravid (or should I say Saurav Ganguly) declared. His innings was kinda overshadowed by the 300+ by Sehwag, but nonetheless, that was perfect support anyone could have given.

Posted by Meety on (December 24, 2010, 2:22 GMT)

I have 3 favourites for differing reasons. Being Australian they are all in Oz. His first 2 centuries in Oz - the 148 in Sydney & the 114 in WACA. The 148 was an enjoyable well crafted innings, it dwarfed Shastri's 200+ score. Pure genius. The WACA ton was the epitomy of the old "Dashin Sachin". Very audacious. The innings Kumble noted is for mine the true confirmation of SRTs greatness. This is for all the reasons Kumble stated. SRT was getting nailed outside off stump throughout the tour, his form was scratchy. McGrath & Gillespie were besting him. Finally after enduring what at the time would of been his most below par tour, he came to the SCG & basically shelved one of his best shots, & refused to get out. It was not a pretty innings but I admire the determination. I think for a batsmen to basically not score between the stumps & cover point suggests powers that very few could ever dream of mastering. SRT take a bow!

Posted by sharathshaddy on (December 22, 2010, 13:48 GMT)

i dont think i am qualified to tell which was his best innings.but i still feel that his century in perth was his best,or i should say its my fav.i still remember that innings though i was only 5 years old at that time.

Posted by AJGWST on (December 22, 2010, 3:17 GMT)

I am 14 years old, and I started watching cricket when I was 2, For 12 years I have been able to name all of the players in 8 out of the top 10 teams, (India,New Zeland, England, Australia, Sri LAnka, West Indies, South Africa and PAkistan) I have been able to remember all of these players because of 1 or 2 great knocks, some others because of great bowling and a particular few because of up to 20 great knocks in both formats these are players such as LAra, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman(VVS)... But I have been able to remember Sachin because he has played the longest, In my opinionhe is the Best and furthermore, everyone loves Sachin, and also for the 96 hundreds and 152 fifties that no one else will be able to beat. I think sachins best century was his 193 vs England in 2002 because it was beautiful he played a marvelous match winning game. He was 50% of why we won that match, He helped us win along with dravid(148) and ganguly(128) where everyone else chipped in. He was the base player..

Posted by Hutty86 on (December 22, 2010, 0:21 GMT)

50 test centuries, absolutely unbelievable!! A true master of the game and a pleasure to watch

Posted by AKG0479 on (December 21, 2010, 20:02 GMT)

I started following cricket in 89-90 or so. Kapil/Azhar used to be big names then & Sachin was a very young, tender addition to the side. But as kids we were highly interested in Sachin's talent. Getting matches on TV was rare. I remember having watched Sachin's Perth innings' full highlights on Doordarshan.Ghoshhh ! The innings made me love cricket & a die hard fan of Sachin. The same year after world cup 92, Sachin scored a brilliant century in SA against Donald, McMilan, Schultz when team was collapsing like playing cards. Every ball of that innings I listened and visualised over radio commentary. 130+ in Chennai, 241 at SCG, and many others were also memorable. Greats cricketers may have come and gone, but the contribution & entertainment which SRT has given to cricket is unachievable. There cannot be a replacement for that.

Posted by dubai_cricfan on (December 21, 2010, 19:22 GMT)

lols............his better one is yet come....wait for that.....

Posted by asadkum on (December 21, 2010, 17:49 GMT)

Mohammad Asad from USA ................................................................. I would go for 114 against AUS at Perth ---- What an innings !!!!! WOW

Posted by philsil on (December 21, 2010, 11:03 GMT)

Bristol v Kenya 1999

His father had passed away, he flew back home, virtually returned to Bristol from the airport.

May the Gods bless you Sachin as we have been blessed watching you play.

Which do you think is Tendulkar's best century?
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