Those magical fingers
v West Indies, Kolkata, 1993
Kanishkaa Balachandran : "Lara v Tendulkar" has always been a favourite pre-series billing between the two run machines, but it's a little-known fact that Tendulkar has dismissed Lara four times in one-dayers. The first such instance was perhaps the most spectacular. Tendulkar had just reminded the world that he could never be underestimated as a bowler, delivering a chilling final over against South Africa in the semi-final of the Hero Cup at Eden Gardens. In the final against West Indies, defending 225, the captain Mohammad Azharuddin tossed him the ball when Lara was on 33. Bowling seam-up rather than spin, Tendulkar landed the ball on the off stump. Lara looked to whip it across the line in his signature style but played too early. The off stump went for a spin and the partisan crowd, unnervingly silent till then, cranked up the volume. Tendulkar pumped his fist and sprinted, and there was no looking back for India.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
v West Indies, Perth, 1991
Devashish Fuloria: I had missed most of the West Indies innings due to a power cut and even though they were 76 for 8 chasing 127, India looked set to lose the match; they just used to. Curtly Ambrose's six off Kapil Dev reiterated that feeling. Ambrose was run out, but West Indies still drew close. With India's seamers having bowled out their quotas, Mohammad Azharuddin opted for Tendulkar to bowl his first with only five runs to defend.
West Indies took five off the first five balls. I remember a close-up shot of Anderson Cummins on the television, with sweat dripping down his temples. Tendulkar, with a thick mop of curls, ran in, the angle of the run-up very similar to Cummins', and got one to swing away and catch the edge of his bat. Azhar, at slip, swooped down on it from close to his boots, and India pulled off a rare tie. It was the first of many times Tendulkar bought India a wicket just when they needed it.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
v Australia, Kolkata Test, 2001
Nitin Sundar: Leading up to that manic final session of play in Kolkata, Tendulkar's contribution to the greatest Test match ever played was a sum total of 20 runs. All that changed in the space of a few delirious minutes. He had just consumed Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden with big swirling, whirling legbreaks and some assistance from a trigger-happy umpire. Tendulkar then set a trap for the best trap-setter of all-time - two slips and a silly point crouching in wait, and just one catcher on the leg side. He might have as well told Shane Warne another legbreak was about to fizz his way. He then trotted in and let the ball rip out of his hand - the back of his hand. It landed on a length outside off, and Warne shaped to play for the legspin from his crease. Mistake. The ball spun in as if it were spring-loaded, past Warne's desperate attempt to work to leg and thumped into his pads. "Well, he's the one man you'd expect to pick a wrong 'un," Ian Chappell remarked from the commentary box as Warne trudged off forlornly. Tendulkar had pulled a Houdini on Houdini himself.
Nitin Sundar is a social media manager at ESPNcricinfo
v South Africa, Cape Town Test, 2007
George Binoy: The details are hazy. India were losing a Test in South Africa in the 2000s, with the home team's batsmen making untroubled progress towards a target. India's seamers had been ineffective, and Anil Kumble had struggled to find help in the pitch. The defeat was all but complete when the captain gave Tendulkar the ball. He did not turn the match around, but he made the ball talk. His legbreaks spun loads, so did his googlies and offbreaks. His control over line and length was not great but the degree of swing, spin and bounce was astonishing, considering his more specialised team-mates had not alarmed the batsmen in the least. I remember a left-hander, possibly Ashwell Prince, thrusting his pad out a long way outside off and leg to blunt deliveries that broke sharply off the pitch. I don't think Tendulkar took a wicket, he just did things with the ball that his peers simply could not in those conditions.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
v Pakistan, Multan, 2004
Mohammad Isam: On his mind was a declaration that split India into half, and his reaction drew more attention than a Virender Sehwag triple-century. But as the third evening closed in, Sachin Tendulkar was not going to let all that come in the way of having some fun. On the last ball of the third day, Moin Khan was thrown up a googly which he first wanted to leave, then wanted to play and got his legs in a tangle. It struck him on his left thigh, and to the naked eye, it seemed the ball slipped between his legs and had him bowled. Tendulkar laughed, his team-mates laughed and a great weight was lifted. The thing with genius is that they can call up a miracle when the chips are down. When questions stung Tendulkar, he brought a delivery that only he could muster, out of nothing.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent
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