When someone has scored a hundred international 100s, it can be difficult for people to remember which one’s which. So when more than two decades later, people still talk about something like it was yesterday, it has to be something special.
Of course, the man I am speaking about is Sachin Tendulkar and the innings I am describing here are fondly remembered as the Desert Storm.
In the April of 1998, Sachin scored a counter-attacking 143 in Sharjah against the mighty Australians, amidst actual sandstorms.
Most of us were too young to have watched it LIVE. But if you are a fan of the sport, you have, at some point, seen the highlights, either on TV or on YouTube. But nothing, and I don’t believe I have to stress this point, comes closer to watching it LIVE.
But if any of your parents have watched it, ask them about it. Make some tea/coffee, buy some pakodas and sit in for the story of a lifetime. Because at that point in history, nobody had seen anything like it.
Sharjah is notorious for its heat and humidity. Well, it’s in the middle of a desert. The 22nd of April, 1998 was no different. It was 41 degrees Celsius. Australia cruised to 287/4 from their 50 overs thanks to a century from Michael Bevan.
Mind you, in those days, 280 was the equivalent of 370-380. So, needless to say, India had a serious task at hand.
Enter Sachin. The God of Cricket razed the likes of Shane Warne, Damien Fleming and Michael Kasprowicz on that day, hitting 9 fours and 5 sixes on his way to a 134-ball 143.
However, a sandstorm stopped the game for 20-odd minutes, reducing India’s target to 277 from 46 overs, instead of 288 in 50 overs. India lost the game by 26 runs. That being said, Tendulkar’s blitzkrieg meant that India had scored past the 237 they needed to qualify to the final.
Tendulkar then hammered a 131-ball 134 runs to help the Men in Blue clinch a six-wicket win over the Steve Waugh-led side in the final of the tri-nation series at the same venue.
As we go to Dubai for the IPL, where matches will be played in Sharjah, things are bound to get nostalgic. It won’t matter that Sachin retired 6 years ago.