On this day, the maestro made his Test debut (15th November 1989) vs Pakistan in Karachi. After that, till 15th Nov 2013, we have witnessed a hundred simmering knocks, of which 51 have come in Test matches. Taking a long list of superb innings in my stride, I prepared a list of the 5 of his best Test knocks. What are your opinions?
1. Manchester (1990, 119 not out)
It was the first of 50 more tons to come in white shirts for the Little Master. India were given a daunting task of chasing down 408 runs in their 4th innings, courtesy a quick century by Allan Lamb. India didn’t respond well and wickets fell at regular intervals; but Sachin (only a 16 year old) continued to impose himself on the English bowlers. Showing immense temperament, class and grit, he conjured a match saving partnership with Manoj Prabhakar and saved the day for India, with his maiden Test ton. Some even say that had there been one more session, India might have even landed on the winning side.
2. Perth (1992, 114)
Innumerable critics, among them Sachin himself, have rated this century as the best he’s ever played in Test cricket. He came in at 69 for two and was the ninth man out with the scoreboard at 240. Tackling the fiery pair of McDermott and Hughes with great ease, sublime square cuts made the bulk of his scoring. As of now, he remains the only Indian cricketer to have made a century at the WACA, and that too at a tender age of 18 years. Critics lauded this great innings and decided that we are to see something very special in near future. Not too wrong, it seems.
3. Chennai (1998, 155 not out vs Australia)
The showdown was awaited eagerly — the meeting of the Master and the Wizard. “Shane Warne versus Sachin Tendulkar” was to give many more epic encounters later on. But this one must have been unforgettable for all who watched it live. The first round was Warne’s; he got Sachin caught by Mark Taylor for a paltry 4 runs. Australia replied back 328 to India’s 257 first innings total and the match was quite set up. The second innings saw a different Tendulkar however, as he destroyed all efforts of the wizard Warne to notch up a brilliant 155 runs from just 191 deliveries he faced, notably barraging his leg spin with slog sweeps. India won the match and Sachin was adjudged the Man of the Match.
4. Chennai (1999, 136 vs Pakistan)
Almost no cricket lover is unaware of Tendulkar’s magnum opus; the tragic 136 versus Pakistan in Chennai. Chennai was Sachin’s happy hunting ground, for he seemed to get centuries there almost every time he played. Chasing 271 runs for victory, India lost wickets quickly to Saqlain’s spin-craft. The man between Pakistan’s victory and India’s was the Little Master, who played with severe back pain and dehydration to narrow down the target to 17 runs before he was caught by Wasim Akram off Saqlain. With 3 more wickets in hand, India did little more — meekly surrendering within 4 more runs to get bundled out for 258 runs. Sachin did not come to accept the Man of the Match award because by India coach Gaekwad’s account, he was crying in the dressing room. Waqar Younis later said it was the best he had seen anybody bat in the 4th innings of a Test match.
5. Sydney (2003-04, 241 not out)
If ever there was poetry in a Test century, this was it. India’s epic tour of Australia in 2003-04 had seen it all: skipper Ganguly lifting the team with his belligerent 144 in Brisbane, Virender Sehwag at his destructive best in Melbourne, and Rahul Dravid at his gritty peak when he guided India to a famous win at Adelaide with a double ton. But it had not seen something which it was used to seeing: a Sachin Tendulkar epic. With the opponent’s being called Australia, and the series tied at 1-1, it was now that the Master chose to showcase his skills. Stitching together an epic partnership with VVS Laxman (who scored 178 runs) for the 4th wicket, he scored a sublime 241. The most notable aspect of his batting was, he didn’t play a single cover drive! His control awed spectators, and many described this innings as struggle at its classiest best.