Sharjah, 22 April 1998
Cricket is perhaps the most individual of all team sports. What would it be, shorn of the drama of one-against-one contests?
In this particular case, both actors had etched themselves into cricketing folklore. Both were legends who had little but their egos at stake. And when skill, will, determination and effort all pad up to defend ego, it makes for fascinating viewing.
Shane Warne, injured shoulder ignored, round the wicket to Sachin Tendulkar on a Sharjah track offering some assistance was one such intriguing contest. Before the ball could come down and do its trick, Tendulkar had got to the pitch of it. And once the ball had been reached and the spin smothered, up came the heavy bat with lightning-quick speed to send it straight into the billboards at long-on. Warne had been conquered, Warne had been decimated. And he had been left with a vision that continued to haunt him.
Warne, wiping the sweat off his face in frustration, desperation, or bewilderment and appreciation, perhaps. The great Shane Warne, for once in his life, had thrown in the towel. Tendulkar had well and truly won the contest of the titans. And soon, India the Coca-Cola Cup.