Sachin’s greatest one-day knocks
Posted by Sports Snob on August 15, 2006
As the master returns to international cricket after a break, I wanted to look back at Sachin’s greatest one-day knocks.
Ranking Sachin’s test innings is arguably an easier task. Considering he has scored 39 centuries and for some portion of the ’90s, was the lone warrior in the Indian team in the one-day game, this is going to be difficult,. And with so many people having watched many of these, people will have their own favorites.
J.H. Fingleton wrote in an article about Vic Trumper but he could very well have been writing for me:
“… A fighting innings of 30 or so under difficult conditions is lost in cold statistics yet its merits may far outweigh many staid (and often unnecessary) centuries that are recorded for all time…What is important is whether a particular contest gives to posterity a challenge that is accepted and won, or yields in classical technique an innings or bowling effort that makes the game richer so that a devotee can say years afterwards, with joy in his voice: ‘I saw that performance’ ..” (How I wish i could write like this!!!)
That is the spirit in which this ranking is done.Where I couldn’t judge on that basis alone, I have fallen back on quality of opposition and importance of the innings in the context of a series/ tournament.
Rank 5: v Aus 90, Mumbai, 1996
It was arguably Sachin’s best tournament. In this match under lights at The Wankhede stadium, Sachin tore into the Australian bowlers and McGrath was taken to the cleaners. He was coming down the wicket and hitting them straight over the bowler’s head. With a rapturous home crowd cheering him on, Sachin played his best innings of the World Cup of 1996. Australia’s Mark Waugh had set the stage with a graceful century and Sachin came out and bested it. Yes, he got out to a rash shot and to an intelligent piece of bowling (stumped off a wide) but then he gave us an innings to remember for a life-time.
Rank 4: v NZ 82, Auckland, 1993/1994
Sachin had started out as a lower middle-order batsman in the one-day game. One fine day during India’s tour to NewZealand, Navjot Sidhu made his biggest contribution to Indian cricket: a stiff neck laid him low and Sachin was asked to open. Then came Sachin at his savage best. 82 off 49 studded with seventeen hits to the boundary:15 fours and 2 sixes. The Kiwis didn’t know where to bowl. And India had found its greatest opener/player in the one-day game.
Rank 3: v Aus 134, Sharjah, 1998
India had struggled through to the finals. Batting second and chasing a target of around 270, Sachin put on a sublime display of batting. He never looked like getting out, never once believing India would lose. He made 134 of the finest runs seen in Sharjah. It was after this tournament that Sachin finally put to rest the argument on the finest batsman ever, to rest- for a long time to come.
Rank 2: v Pak 98 WC, Centurion, 2003
World Cup, Pakistan, emotions running high, 273 runs on the board, Shoaib and his special ball. Special it was. 98 of the most precious runs made for India. The little master showed Shoaib his place. Starting off quietly, Sachin took the attack to the opposition after the dismissal of the explosive Sehwag. Two quick wickets fell but as long as Sachin was there, the game was in the bag. Falling 2 short of a well deserved century, Sachin had again shown the critics: cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Rank 1: v Aus 143, Sharjah, 1998
Desert Storm. India needed to qualify for the finals. Off to a dismal start, India were quickly in trouble. Sachin in the company of Mongia was putting things together when a sand storm hit the stadium. What we saw after that was the best display of one-day batting I’ve ever seen. Bowlers were hit to all parts of the ground. There was a brilliant shot off Tom Moody, straight over his head and Tony Greig’s commentary, for a change indicated that we were watching something truly special. Had he stayed longer, we would have even won the game. The great man at his best.
Honorable mentions : 186 v NZ Hyderabad , v SL s/f WC 1996 (he batted on a placid track while the rest batted on a minefield), 141 v Pak Rawalpindi (2003/04) , 104 v Zim at Benoni (1996), 141 v Aus Dhaka…. and so many more