When Sachin Tendulkar reached his fifty in the second ODI against South Africa, he went past another milestone in a career chequered with record-breaking moments. Tendulkar became the first batsman to accumulate 15,000 runs in ODIs - he was the first to 10,000 runs as well - and that didn't come as a surprise considering the productivity of his long career.
In the 189 ODI innings he has played when India has won, Tendulkar has scored 9061 runs at an average of 56.98, with a strike-rate of 89.72, all figures higher than his overall average. He averages 47.96 in 36 finals (of tournaments involving three teams or more), though the fact that he has scored only four hundreds, and that only 13 of those matches have resulted in wins, might come as a disappointment. Incidentally, he averages 89.10 at a strike-rate of nearly 100 when the team has won in a final.
He instantly became the face of the day-night game, and in fact Tendulkar has scored the highest number of runs while batting second in a day-night game and is third on the list of all-time highest averages while chasing under lights.
Tendulkar has scored the most runs by far (12019) while batting in the top three. However, a few batsmen have averaged better than him in the top-order, though none in the top five apart from Sir Viv Richards come close to his batting strike-rate.
Though he's been dismissed in the 90s in two consecutive matches, Tendulkar can take heart from his performance against South Africa in the ongoing series in Ireland. South Africa is the only team against whom he has failed to maintain an average score of 35 per innings.
Interestingly, the South African bowlers have managed to keep him quiet over the years, as reflected in his low strike-rate of 71.42 against them. The reason for his success at Belfast could be the absence of Shaun Pollock. Pollock has dismissed Tendulkar nine times in ODIs, along with Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas. The other successful bowlers include Glenn McGrath and Heath Streak, who have dismissed him seven times each.
Tendulkar also performs better at neutral venues than at home in India. His record in away games though is unimpressive.
Tendulkar currently averages over 50 in the 13 matches he has played in 2007. He has finished five years so far with an average of over 50 in ODIs. However, after a successful 2003 World Cup, he suffered a slump. He averaged a measly 34.97 in 37 innings in 2004 and 2005. Also, his strike-rate dropped gradually from 87.36 in 2003 to 77.05 in 2006.
Since the 2003 World Cup, Tendulkar has played 72 innings, in which he has scored 2824 runs at an average of 43.44 at a strike-rate of 81.85. He opened the batting in only 58 of these innings and though his record at No. 4 was equally impressive, he failed while batting one-down. In four innings at No.3, he averaged 8.75 and had a woeful strike-rate of 54.68. Clearly, Tendulkar prefers not to take first strike while opening the innings.
Although of late, he's looked to play with caution, he can be destructive and equally dismissive of opposition bowlers at will, as seen in the latest innings against South Africa, where he pulled the ball with an air of nonchalance. Here's a list of innings where he's been at his explosive best:
That list includes the magical 49-ball 82 against New Zealand, Tendulkar's first as an opener. Since then, it's been many more runs on the board. Tendulkar has scored almost 26,000 runs in international cricket, and looks unlikely to be overtaken soon unless his nearest rival Brian Lara comes out of retirement as stated and makes runs at a far greater pace than his contemporary.