At Centurion, March 1, 2003. India won by six wickets. Toss: Pakistan.
Though the players played down the first clash between India and Pakistan since June 2000, it remained the tournament's most feverishly talked-up match. Almost incredibly, the cricket lived up to the hype. Under a hot sun and in front of a crammed stadium (and a TV audience implausibly guesstimated at a billion) Tendulkar played an astounding innings - perhaps the best of the tournament, and undoubtedly one of his best in one-day internationals. Chasing 274, on a shirtfront but against a testosteronepropelled pace attack, he hit a vivid and memorable stream of shots, none so perfect as the cut six and the two fours - one swirled into the leg side, one pushed down the ground - which concluded Shoaib Akhtar's first over. By the 12th, India had reached 100; Tendulkar, missed on 32 and struggling with cramp, went on to 98 from 75 balls. After the storm came calm, as Dravid and Yuvraj Singh eased home to maintain India's pristine World Cup record (four wins out of four) against Pakistan. All along it had been a batsman's match, started by Saeed Anwar, whose century, full of dextrous, anglebatted shots, contained only seven boundaries. It took the ball of the game - a rapid Nehra yorker - to remove him. Younis Khan provided a late, impish flourish, along with Rashid Latif, who was hit on the helmet and could not keep wicket. But the 28 extras in India's innings were not so much an indictment of Taufeeq Umar's keeping as of the experienced fast bowlers who billowed in with passion but not discipline. The win guaranteed India's progress and nudged the door further open for England.
Man of the Match: S. R. Tendulkar. Attendance: 19,679.