#11: Desert Storm II – 134(131) vs Australia 1998
1998 was the year that belonged to the little master. He smashed 11 centuries in that one calendar year in both forms of cricket combined. At the beginning of the year he had the captaincy taken away from him and it was almost like he had a point to prove. It appeared that he took out all his frustration on the red cherry and the opponent bowlers. The baggy green opponents were at the receiving end at the most of the time as the legend amassed 6 tons against them during that year. The two most famous came in successive innings at Sharjah, which were then popularly labeled Desert Storm I & II.
Desert Storm II arrived during the Coca Cola Cup finals on April 24. Sachin had singlehandedly catapulted India into the finals just two days ago. India captain won the toss and surprisingly inserted the opponents in. New ball bowlers started off very well and had the Aussies in a spot of bother at 3/26 (6th Over) and then Gilchrist and Bevan started the recovery on which Waugh and Lehman built it up. Lehman’s late onslaught bolstered the Australian total to 272, which meant India would have had to score their highest score of the tournament to win it.
Ganguly-Sachin started off cautiously and saw the first few overs through and just when they were opening up Flemming got the first breakthrough (1/39) by removing Ganguly. Mongia was promoted up as pinch hitter, a move that was attempted to a reasonable success just in the previous game and he didn’t disappoint. Sachin-Mongia added 90 at almost run-a-ball, however, Sachin was the dominating partner. He was extremely severe on Kasprowicz and Warne. India still required 145 in 148 when Mongia fell and a couple of quick wickets would have brought Aussies in control.
Sachin was in no-mood to give any control away. He now turned his attention to Tom Moody and shifted his gears to overdrive. India captain gave him able support and kept rotating the strike. The pair added 120 in 20 overs. The Aussie spearhead of the attack – Warne was demolished with the figures of 10-0-61-0. Even the part-time bowling options of Waugh brothers couldn’t get a breakthrough. Just when it looked impossible to get Sachin out, the umpire made an error in judgment and adjudged the little master LBW with the ball clearly drifting down the leg. Aussies got India captain too, but it was too late as India ran home with 6 wickets and 9 balls to spare.
Sachin’s knock was super special. Within the span of less than 50 hours he had racked up close to 275+ runs against the same opponent at a strike rate of 105. He slaughtered their attack to shreds with 21 boundaries and 8 sixes within that span. Shane Warne had gone wicket less for two matches in a row with combined figures of 19-0-100-0. After the tournament, Kasprowicz had asked legendary Dennis Lillie for Advice to bowl at Sachin and Lillie had given him sound advice to “just give him a single and get him to the other end”. Warne later wrote of having nightmares of Sachin dancing down the track and hitting him over his head. He claimed of feeling the ball just hitting toe of master’s bat yet sailing over the fence!
In three games against the Aussies in that single tournament Sachin has racked up 357 runs. Sachin continued his rich vein of form against the Aussies throughout the calendar year scoring 621 runs in 7 games (despite two failures) averaging 89. Sachin’s blistering knocks, Tony Greig’s live commentary and resulting India’s success made the game extremely exciting to watch for any cricket fan and a pleasure treat especially for Indian supporters!!!
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav