Three years ago, cricket’s talismanic batsman retired from Test cricket. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, also hailed as God, Master Blaster and the list goes endless. In his 24-year-long career, the Mumbaikar brought India to a standstill whenever he came out to bat. Irrespective of caste, religion or colour, people looked up to him whenever India was in trouble.
Since making his debut for India in whites, Sachin witnessed several ups and downs in his career. A mammoth run tally of 15,921 in 200 Tests with 51 centuries is not a fluke. Critics often questioned his technique, form slump and age and advised him to retire. But, he preferred to let his bat do the talking. One such incident came in his life during the 2003-04 tour to Australia, which is still afresh in everyone’s mind.
Nearing 40, Aussie skipper Steve Waugh had been nursing a bruised ego after being denied his final frontier- a series win in India. He led a team which lost 1-2 in the summer of 2001. On the other hand, Sourav Ganguly’s men had still not recovered from the disappointing loss in the 2003 World Cup final to Waugh’s deputy Ricky Ponting who had led the ODI team to the title triumph.
When the Indian team landed on the Australian soil, they were shouldering huge expectations on their shoulders. And for someone like Sachin who has played a lot Down Under, people would hope that he would once again lead the run onslaught. However, the series began on a poor note for the Master Blaster. He had scores of 0,1 and 37 in the first two Tests. In the third Test at Melbourne, fans had expected him to help the visitors pile up runs along with swashbuckler Virender Sehwag against a hapless Aussie attack. But Sachin got out for a duck, like this.
Tendulkar’s dismissal came at an unexpected moment when India had a chance to build pressure on the hosts on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test. Sadly, the Indian batting order crumbled and the hosts won the Test by nine wickets. While the critics refused to acknowledge Adam Gilchrist’s stunning catch, fingers were pointed at the Mumbaikar for playing a reckless shot that cost India a winning series lead.
Bouncing back in style
When Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat in the fourth and final match in Sydney, cricket fans expected that Steve Waugh would not be allowed to retire from Tests on a winning note. India were comfortably placed at 194/3 when Tendulkar arrived at the crease. Having endured a run drought, he was determined to make amends. After surviving initial hiccups and dropped catches, he regained his touch and rest his history. While he drove Jason Gillespie and Nathan Bracken to the ropes whenever they erred, Brett Lee bore the brunt of his run feast. And he raced to his double hundred with a single as well.
His unbeaten innings of 241 helped India pile up a mammoth total of 705/7 declared. It is another fact that the Aussies managed to salvage a draw and levelled the series 1-1.
But this innings is one of Sachin’s best in recent years.