The return of the destroyer © Getty Images

Rahul Dravid later referred to it as a Tendulkar special, and he's seen a fair few in a decade of batting alongside him in international cricket. As good as Tendulkar had been at Peshawar, it had been the innings of an individual working his way back into form, rather than that of a man determined to stamp his authority on proceedings. In front of a packed house at the Gaddafi Stadium, he rolled back the years with a wondrous effort that merged the virtues of experience, grit and panache in equal measure.

Mohammad Asif's first spell, in helpful conditions, was as good as any you could hope to see, and you had to peer extra hard to make sure that it was batsmen of the quality of Tendulkar and Dravid that were managing to survive by the width of an outside edge. Asif was spot on with his line and length, and yet Tendulkar's judgement, especially in choosing which deliveries to leave, was so precise that it evoked as much awe as the sublime cover-drive that he later played off Umar Gul.

At 14 for 2, there was no margin for error and it would be a gross distortion of the truth to suggest that either Dravid or Tendulkar was in complete control during their 72-run association. Their defiance, interspersed with some gorgeous drives from Tendulkar, spanned 99 balls, and set the stage for those that followed. Had Yuvraj Singh or Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked out to face a ball that was seaming around prodigiously, the match may well have taken a different direction. But by seeing the shine off the white ball, not to mention the considerable threat posed by Asif, Tendulkar and Dravid smoothed the path to victory.

There has been much innuendo about Tendulkar's batsmanship in recent times, with many suggesting that the destroyer of old had given way to a nudger and accumulator. After the initial circumspection however, Tendulkar took out both bludgeon and rapier, driving, pulling and cutting with immense power in an enthralling 105-run partnership with Yuvraj. After Dravid's departure, Yuvraj's silken shotmaking helped him to play at a pace that suited him, and the cascade of boundaries that followed was all the more impressive for the fact that he was clearly struggling with cramps.

It's one thing to set a game up, and quite another to finish it, and Tendulkar's departure - caught off his old nemesis, Abdul Razzaq - left the game wide open. When Dhoni walked out, 99 were needed at over a run-a-ball. But nerves seem not to be a part of the Dhoni make-up. After giving himself a few balls to settle down, Dhoni was in his element, smacking Gul through extra-cover with the merest hint of a flourish. Two straight swipes off Razzaq - one of them one-handed, and bearing his audacious imprint - changed the complexion of the game, and a couple of overs that saw the hapless Rana Naved-ul-Hasan carted for 29 pretty much ended the match as a contest.

It was somehow appropriate that he applied the finishing touch with the swivel-pull that was once the signature stroke of the inimitable Kapil Dev, another with the ability to utterly transform a game regardless of the situation. He was perfectly complemented by Yuvraj, who eased off once Dhoni started belting the ball, knowing that at least one of them needed to be there at the end.

The resounding victory, India's 11th successful run-chase on the trot, was marred only by some dreadful catching in the early stages of the Pakistan innings. Shoaib Malik, dropped by Gautam Gambhir at second slip when he'd made just 12, went on to bludgeon 96 more, and poor S Sreesanth will look back on a day when he might have had three or four wickets instead of unflattering figures of 0 for 74. Compensation came in the shape of Irfan Pathan, who used the conditions beautifully for another three-wicket haul.

This, though, was to be the batsmen's day out, and how fitting for India that it was the oldest pro - perhaps second only to Vivian Richards in the ODI batting pantheon - that led the way. Endulkar? More like the end of such trash talk.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo