Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top 5 cricketing moments of Indian Test Cricket : Batting (1)

I am 23. I belong to a generation who started watching cricket around world cup 1996. The first article was I read was about how the WC 1996 was marked by the three greatest batsmen of the decade – Sachin Tendulkar, Mark Waugh and Brian Lara; Spin Bowling was dominated by the trio of Anil Kumble, Mushtaq Ahmed and Shane Warne. All the memories for cricket start from there for me. Me and bunch of the greatest cricket fans, cricket has ever seen has come up with the top moments of Indian cricket. This is first in the series: Top 5 moments of Indian Test cricket: batting. We have taken only the matches after 1996 into consideration because we haven’t watched anything of cricket before 96. We might have missed, we might be wrong but this is what we think. Enjoy guys

Top 5 cricketing moments of Indian Test Cricket : Batting

1. Sachin Tendulkar 136 v/s Pakistan, Chennai, 31 January 1999

Every once in a while, there are moments in sport that transcend the action on the field and yet help establish the very essence of sport by carrying it beyond the confines of nationalism, and indeed victory and defeat. By all standards the first Test of the 1998-99 series between India and Pakistan was a similar example.

It see-sawed for four days: bowled out for 238 on the first day, Pakistan struck back, restricting India to 254. Then Shahid Afridi threatened to take the match beyond India's pale with a violent 141 before Venkatesh Prasad engineered the most sensational of collapses, which sunk Pakistan from 275 for 4 to 286 all out. But at 82 for 5 before lunch on the fourth day, it all seemed over for India - barring Sachin Tendulkar, of course.

Sachin backed himself up against his longtime nemesis Waqar & Wasim. Sachin's determination was more fierce than Chennai's heat. The wicket turned out to be a two-paced one. When the fast bowlers bowled it was reverse swinging and when the spinners bowled the ball turned square.

So Wasim pressed on Saqlain for the whole day. There were just two fielders on the offside a backward point and a mid off. Saqlain started bowling a teasing line around the off stump. All throughout the day Saqlain was testing Sachin's patience and Sachin showed Herculean patience and runs started flowing slowly but surely, as time is not a problem here. Sachin never batted his eyelid all day and it was like He was meditating on the field.. Ganguly was given a bad decision and in walked Nayan Mongia.

Tendulkar finds an able ally in Nayan Mongia, and rebuilds the innings in a painstaking, un-Tendulkar like manner. After helping add 136 for the sixth wicket, Mongia departs to an ungainly pull, and Tendulkar’s back is also giving way. Tendulkar shifts up a gear or two, and starts dealing only in boundaries

But one error of judgment and it’s all over. Saqlain Mushtaq defeats his intended lofted on-drive with a magical ball that drifts the other way, catches the outer part of Tendulkar’s bat and balloons up to mid-off. The tail disgrace themselves, and India fall short by a gut-wrenching 13 runs.
Later Moin revealed in the press conference that he has never seen shots like that in his career before. This is what every true fan of Cricket wants to see. An even battle between bat & ball .Sometimes I used to wonder why life is so cruel to me and this was the first time I thought like that. If anyone wants to know what is meant by an unfinished classic, this is it. The whole innings was so beautifully conceived and played.

In India, 1 billion people watched the match and 1 billion hearts were crushed that day. Nobody can forget Sachin's expressions when he received the MOM award, which counted nothing for him. Sachin has scored 47 centuries till date. There are infinite numbers in this universe. But you mention Sachin or 136, a true Indian is bound to remember that composure, that face, that Sachin, that god who failed and yet won!!!


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