Come November 14th 2013, Sachin Tendulkar will be playing his 200th test. While the number by itself is staggering, speaking of longevity and consistency; encompassed within its monumentality, are innumerable instances of class, excellence, doggedness and determination.
Each of Tendulkar’s innings with the bat – and oftentimes with the ball – has brought forth something special in its wake. Right from the time he made his debut against Pakistan and defied the lethality of another famous debutant by playing on with his face soaked in blood, with his career heading towards a definite finish, Sachin Tendulkar went on to emphasise what his presence meant to the Indian cricketing contingent over the course of his more than two decade’ long career.
Though as the years went by, times changed for the Indian test cricketing outfit and Tendulkar was no longer required to play the glue holding the Indian innings together. But his contributions were no less impactful as they inspired the youngsters, the newer members of the test team to make their idol proud. Such has been the completion of Tendulkar’s cricketing cycle from a youngster to that of the senior-most member of the team, respected beyond any comparison.
Detailed below are five of Tendulkar’s top innings in test cricket, spanning across the time from when he started off till the present. Innings that made all the difference between victory and loss, despondency and ecstasy and whose panache can never be emulated or replicated.
– England v/s India, Old Trafford, 1990: Where at 16, he went on to show the world the true meaning of the word gutsiness; at 17, he displayed an uncanny maturity for someone his age going on to score his maiden century.
Even as the Indian batting order collapsed with not much to show by way of runs or partnerships, chasing a mammoth total of 408, it was up to the 17-year old, just eight test matches old, to try and rescue India from what seemed like a definite loss. Single-handedly, Tendulkar set about to do the reparation that allowed India to salvage a respectable draw against all possible odds.
– Australia v/s India, Perth, 1992: The track at WACA has always been a batsman’s bane. But if the Australians thought that the Perth wicket would trouble Tendulkar, they were in for a huge surprise. Tendulkar’s innings against Australia in that match was one of the finest that he has ever played, one that even his opponents acknowledged – albeit grudgingly. And though his innings of 148 in the previous test at Sydney was no less inspired, his batting acumen at Perth that saw him score 114 was truly instrumental in turning the entire Australian fan crowd to become ardent fans of the Indian.
– India v/s Pakistan, Chennai, 1999: In a match that swung equally between the two arch-rivals, the only beacon of constancy was Sachin Tendulkar. Out for a duck in the first innings off a Saqlain Mushtaq delivery, Tendulkar went to score a resilient century in the second innings, an innings yet again reminiscent of his single-handed persistence. His 273-ball 136 was peppered with 18 boundaries and given the precarious state in which India were wobbling, losing five quick wickets, gave India a chance to win the game. At the end of the day though, the scalp of Sachin’s wicket – again to Mushtaq – dashed the Indian hopes by the barest of margins.
– Australia v/s India, Sydney, 2004: It was a series that started out to be Steve Waugh’s swansong. But the sheen on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was completely stolen by the Indians’ resilience in the face of the Australian onslaught, thanks to the heroics of Dravid, Laxman and Sachin. It was one of the strongest performances that India had put up on a foreign cricketing soil and it was only fitting that the nation’s best cricketer was the one who took the battle to the Australians in the fourth and final test. The Australian fans too didn’t seem to mind Tendulkar belting out runs. The crescendo of applause on his double century wasn’t exactly muted despite the sorry plight of the Australians.
– Australia v/s India, Melbourne, 2007: A complete turnabout to the way India had performed almost four years ago this series saw the rivalry between India and Australia slip to new lows. In the first test at Melbourne, it was yet again Tendulkar who made his presence felt in the first innings even as wickets kept tottering and flailing at the other end. Tendulkar’s 77-ball-62 in that Boxing Day test match was one that defied, challenged and frustrated the Australians till the very end. Indeed, at the end of the first innings, Tendulkar emerged to be the leading run-getter for India with his 62 that allowed Australia to solidify their position for the rest of the match.