Wednesday, February 24, 2010

He finally did it

A lot of people may not feel that Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman that Test cricket has ever seen. However, he is, by a long margin, the greatest batsman that ODI cricket has ever seen. He has scored more runs and notched up more centuries and fifties than anybody else. He has made the format his own - this is a format where he can single-handedly win matches for India and not have to worry about minor issues like his team-mates' performances et al

However, for many years what was lacking was a really big innings from him. For a long while his highest score was the 143 he had scored against the Aussies at Sharjah. He then scored a 186 against the Kiwis, which till today was his highest score. However, he never seemed to score the really big hundreds. The tide started changing in 2009, when he made two 150+ scores, including that tragic 175 against the Aussies at Hyderabad. However, something was missing - and that got added today.

It is only fitting that it is Sachin who becomes the first batsman to attain the holy grail of ODI cricket - scoring 200 in a single inning. ODI cricket owes a lot to India in general, and Sachin in particular. He made the format immensely popular. His mere presence would fill out the stands. And through ODIs, he took the game to the smaller cities in India which could never host Test matches - the Cuttacks, Indores and Jodhpurs. So it is all the more appropriate that he would score his double century not on the hallowed turf of the Eden Gardens, but at the Captain Roop Singh stadium in Gwalior instead.

Although I did not see his entire innings, I managed to see large portions of it. My favourite part was during a Dale Steyn over when Sachin had scored around 120 runs. Now this was a bowler who is widely accepted as the best fast bowler in the world. He has run through many strong batting line-ups, including the Indian one. But today all that Steyn could think of was containment. And that too with more than 15 overs left. So no good length deliveries which he would try to swing away from the bat. Every ball he bowled was full length. However this didn't stop Sachin from scoring. He literally danced on his tiptoes before hitting a full length ball from outside the off-stump to the square leg boundary. And then, just for fun, did it again two balls later, this time hitting it to the mid wicket fence. He was literally toying around with the bowling and the look on Steyn's face gave it all way - there was nothing he could do to stop Sachin.

Possibly the best image of the match was a poster held up in the audience. It initially read 'Sachin, we have come to see you score a 100'. After Sachin's century, the guy added a '+ 100' to the text. Never, in his wildest dreams, would he have imagined how prophetic that amendment would turn out to be.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010