119 not out v England, Old Trafford, 1990
England pile up 519 on a benign pitch,
and India reply with 432. England stretch the lead to 407, and though the pitch is still good and the bowling (Malcolm, Fraser, Lewis, Hemmings) not terribly menacing, India find themselves in deep water at 127 for 5 with only one recognised batsman left. And he's only 17 years old. Tendulkar battles for nearly four hours, grimly but never dourly, and ends the day with 119. India lose only one more wicket, ending up with 343. With one more session, they might even have won.
114 v Australia, Perth, 1991-92
The fastest pitch in Australia has been reserved for the last Test.
India have been beaten already, only humiliation awaits. Batting first, Australia score 346. Tendulkar enters at a relatively comfortable 69 for 2, but watches the next six wickets go down for 90. Tendulkar is the next man out... at 240. He has scored 114 of the 171 runs added while he is at the crease, and has made them in such an awe-inspiring manner that commentators are asking themselves when they last saw an innings as good.
169 v South Africa, Cape Town, 1996-97
Batting first, South Africa make a matchwinning 529.
Playing only for honour, India find themselves groveling before Donald, Pollock, McMillan and Klusener. Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin get together at 58 for 5, and start spanking the bowling as if they were playing a club game in the park. They add 222 for the sixth wicket in less than two sessions, and Tendulkar has 26 boundaries in his score of 169. Even Donald says that he felt like clapping.
155 not out v Australia, Chennai, 1997-98
Seventy-one runs in arrears, India start the second innings
and despite Navjot Singh Sidhu's 64 find themselves only 44 in front when Tendulkar joins Rahul Dravid. The duo has to contend with Shane Warne bowling from round the wicket and into the rough. Tendulkar, who has practised against Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and a few other bowlers on artificially created rough patch before this series, decides to take apart Warne. In a breathtaking assault, with the match hanging in balance, he deploys his unique slog sweeps against the spin to steer India past Australia and snatch a matchwinning 347-run lead.
Century v Australia, Sharjah, 1997-98
India are chasing Australia's 284
, but more importantly they need to score 254 to beat New Zealand on net run-rate, and make their way to the final. Single-handedly, Tendulkar takes India close to the cut-off when sandstorms disrupt the play. Just when making it to the final looks difficult, Tendulkar not only takes them beyond that target, but for a brief while even flirts with a win.
134 v Australia, Sharjah final, 1997-98
It surely couldn't have got better. It does. Two days later, at the same venue, chasing a similar 273 to win the final
, Tendulkar decimates the Australian attack. By the time he is out in the 45th over, he has left India only 25 more to get. Shane Warne is so devastated he confesses Tendulkar hits him for sixes in his nightmares.
141 and 4 for 38 v Australia, Dhaka, 1997-98
Six months after having destroyed Aussie bowlers' psyche, Tendulkar meets them again in big-match environment: the quarter-final of the ICC Champions Trophy.
And again, single-handedly, he puts Australia out of the game with his third century against them in three matches. His 141 come in 128 balls, and India are 280 in the 46th over when he gets out. To put the matter beyond doubt, Tendulkar kills an interesting contest by dismissing Steve Waugh, Michael Bevan, and Damien Martyn in his 4 for 38. Tendulkar is clearly dominating Australia like no other single player has ever done before.
136 v Pakistan, Chennai, 1998-99
Few Indian batting performances have been as heroic, or as tragic. Chasing 271 in the fourth innings
of a low-scoring match, India experience a familiar top-order collapse, and are sinking fast at 82 for 5. Tendulkar finds an able ally in Nayan Mongia, and rebuilds the innings in a painstaking, un-Tendulkarlike manner. After helping add 136 for the sixth wicket, Mongia departs to an ungainly pull, and Tendulkar's back is also giving way. Tendulkar shifts up a gear or two, and starts dealing only in boundaries. But one error of judgment and it's all over. Saqlain Mushtaq defeats his intended lofted on-drive with a magical ball that drifts the other way, catches the outer part of Tendulkar's bat and balloons up to mid-off. The tail disgrace themselves, and India fall short by a gut-wrenching 13 runs.
233 not out v Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, 1999-2000
It's a Ranji semi-final
against a strong Tamil Nadu, and Mumbai are looking down the barrel after their bowlers have given away 485 runs. First-innings lead is crucial in this contest, but Mumbai look down for the count at 127 for 4. This is when old pal Vinod Kambli joins Tendulkar, and they see Mumbai out of trouble. But they are not anywhere near home when Kambli falls with the score at 266. Tendulkar then takes charge, and with the lower order, sees Mumbai just past Tamil Nadu's total and into a final Mumbai would win. This is just the kind of against-the-odds matchwinning knock that has eluded him at international level. Perhaps that's why he later says, "This is one of my best innings. This includes one-day internationals and Test cricket also."
155 v South Africa, Bloemfontein, 2001-02
On the first day on an overseas series,
India's plight is a familiar one - four down for 68, with all the wickets going just the way the South Africans expected - to rising balls. Tendulkar has a debutant for company, with another to follow. He takes 17 balls to score his first run, but 101 come off the next 97 deliveries. It isn't the prettiest of Tendulkar's Test tons, but it is one of the most savage, characterised by pulls and vicious upper-cuts. The South Africans have a plan for India, and Tendulkar makes a mockery of it. By the time Tendulkar's innings ends, India are reasonably well placed, though they go on to lose the Test.
98 v Pakistan, Centurion, 2003
Tendulkar has been compelled to live this World Cup match
against Pakistan for a year in advance. He has not slept properly for 12 nights going into the match. A target of 274 set for India, bat in hand, Tendulkar shows no anxiety whatsoever. Or is it that nervous energy? He just finishes his hyped battle against Shoaib Akhtar in the latter's first over with an uppercut for six, and then a flick and a straight block for two boundaries. Every bowler is dealt with similar disdain. He has not looked more pumped up before. And although he misses a special century, he leaves the match sealed in the 28th over.
117 not out v Australia, Sydney, 2007-08
Going into the first final
of the CB Series, Tendulkar has not achieved many things: an ODI century in Australia, a century in 37 innings, a chase-winning century since 2001, a century in any chase since March 2004. In a 235-minute masterclass, he washes it all away, scoring 117 off 120 balls and leading India to the 240-run target on a difficult wicket just about solo. He dominates in the initial overs, shepherds the tentative middle order, and stays unbeaten to see the side home.
37 and 103 not out v England, Chennai, 2008-09
Tendulkar has to his name every batting record worth having, except one perhaps: a fourth-innings century in an Indian win. Having struggled against the spin of Swann and Panesar in the first innings of the Chennai Test
, India are left to chase 387 on a deteriorating pitch. The explosive start, which puts England off track, is provided by Virender Sehwag, the final touches by Yuvraj Singh, but in the middle Tendulkar nurtures the chase, hardly ever looking under pressure, scampering through for singles like a teenager, breaking shackles every now and then with odd boundaries. The final one of those boundaries finishes the chase, and also brings up that elusive century. Works a treat that it comes at the same venue that was the scene of a supreme heartbreak nine years ago against Pakistan, and weeks after India faced one of its worst terror attacks. With Tendulkar, India smiles again.
175 v Australia, Hyderabad, 2009-10
Australia have amassed a massive 350 on a flat pitch in Hyderabad
, and Tendulkar almost chases it, with no support to speak of. Displays through the innings how he has mastered the art of scoring quick runs without taking any risks. The only support comes from Virender Sehwag (38) and Suresh Raina (59), but they both look like getting out any time. Tendulkar, who scores 175 off 141 balls, gives hardly a chance through the classic. When he does take risk, it's worth preserving those shots in an album: the stepping out to spinners and lofts straight down the ground, and the unbelievably late flicks, even later late cuts. It all ends in heartbreak, though: in Chennai in 1998-99, Tendulkar, having played an innings as incredible as this, left the last three wickets 17 to get; on this night he leaves them 19 off 17. The rest choke like they did in Chennai.
200* v South Africa, Gwalior, 2009-10
It took nearly 40 years of waiting, but the accolade fittingly went to the best ODI batsman in history. Tendulkar overcame cramps, heat and humidity to play his most breathtaking innings, to send the cricket world into a frenzy. On a road of a pitch in Gwalior
, Tendulkar began his innings with crisply timed shots past the packed infield. His placement was impeccable and not once did he drop anchor. Yusuf Pathan, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik frolicked as well, but they were mere bystanders as Tendulkar continued with his act of savagery. He fetched 100 runs off fours alone and also ran swiftly between the wickets. He went past his personal best of 186, and broke Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry's record with a glance to fine leg. A squirt to backward point got him to 200, and he ended up scoring almost exactly half of India's total.
146 v South Africa, Cape Town, 2010-11
, India are looking for their first series win in South Africa, but with Dale Steyn bowling perfect outswing at mid-140 kph, often pitching leg and hitting off, they are in serious danger of losing the series. In reply to South Africa's 362, they are 28 for 2 before Tendulkar stages a recovery. With the semi-old ball, though, Steyn produces two spells of near-unplayable swing bowling either side of lunch on day three. Tendulkar faces 48 of those 66 deliveries, each one of which looked like taking a wicket. He defends obstinately, standing outside the crease to cover the swing and negate LBWs; he leaves better than others; and he releases pressure by taking calculated risks against the other bowlers. His 146 is the difference between a first-innings lead and a huge deficit; for good measure he bats out 146 minutes for 14 runs on the final day to ensure the draw.