#15: Kaula Lampur - 141*(148) vs WI
Sachin Tendulkar has made runs in heaps and broken many records. His name features in the lists of many great achievements, however, unfortunately, over the years that body has suffered through a long list of injuries. Every time an ailment has tried to bother him he has gotten out some of his best performances of the career. The Chennai 1999 epic test inning against Pakistan was played in spite of a severe bad back that later forced him to miss the ODIs in 2001. He was player of the 2003 World Cup, however, he played the entire tournament with a broken finger. During 2004-05 he played a match turning knock, along with VVS Laxman, at Mumbai against Australia while still suffering from Tennis Elbow. H has been carrying a permanently fractured toe bone over the years and in the summer of 2006 he had to go under knife, yet again, to treat an aching shoulder.
It is never easy to come back in full swing after a long injury layoff; Sachin somehow always managed that gigantic feat pretty easily. 155 at Bloemfontein test against South Africa (2001-02), ODI century at Gwalior against Australia (2003-04), and a fabulous 93 in a Napur ODI against Sri Lanka (2005-06) were examples of such enormous accomplishments. Each of these knock were after a major surgery or injury layoff and just went to show his preparedness before arriving back at the top level of cricket. The summer of 2006 was slightly different, both in terms of injury, treatment, and also the time it took to heal. After a successful surgery, master himself, recalls of not having enough strength in his arms and couldn’t even make a drive go past a decent distance. He wondered if his career had come to a screeching halt.
The master never gave up though, toiled hard at the nets, played domestic games, and after many weeks of preparation, showed in blue at Kaula Lampur after almost five months hiatus. India opted to bat first. Having taken two deliveries to get his eye in, it was back to the business of scoring runs with a deft dab down to third man after the ball kept low. With the ball seaming around, batting wasn’t easy in the opening overs. A couple of deliveries whizzed past the outside edge, but Tendulkar bided his time and then clipped Taylor superbly through midwicket for four. Tendulkar was in no mood to let scoring opportunities slip with the field up in the circle. He swiveled into the hook, and the top edge fell just short of the rope at fine leg and later he slashed hard and the ball flew over the slip cordon for four more. Soon, though, he got in the mood, and a wonderfully timed stroke that left cover and mid-off standing elicited gasps from everyone watching.
A glance to fine leg off Bradshaw, and a misfield from Taylor, took him to 50 from 67 balls, though a miscued pull soon after once again revealed just how challenging the conditions were. Tendulkar exacted full toll with a gorgeous clip through midwicket and a delicate jab that streaked off the face down to third man. And as the Indian flag-wavers in the stand started getting more and more vocal, he thrilled them some more with a delightful loft over mid-off that took him to 95. A couple of neat deflections took him to 99, and a tickle behind square off Taylor saw him through to three figures for the 40th time. A long lingering look at the heavens followed, before guard was marked again for the final onslaught.
Tendulkar picked off the gaps in the outfield before steeling himself for a final flourish. He finished off with two more sixes, teeing off over midwicket when Taylor pitched too full, and then deflated Bravo further with another dazzling stroke into the crowd behind the rope at cover. Sachin had batted through the innings with 141*(148) that comprised of 13 boundaries and 5 sixes. India had posted a very challenging score of 309 on a wicket that was not easy to bat.
Rains later played spoil-sport in the game as match was evenly poised with WI 141/2 (20), after a Gayle blitz, but India had begun to crawl back in the game. With 20 overs completed the famous D/L calculations came in play and WI was declared the winner. Irrespective of the outcome, the innings marked a sort of re-birth of Sachin in the game. He continued to give joy to the billion viewers for many more years that followed.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav