Sachin Tendulkar taking guard during that innings of 143
Sachin Tendulkar taking guard during that innings of 143

In 1998, Australia came to India on a tour. The tour that hyped to be a battle between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne started during a practice game in Mumbai. Sachin, who decided to participate in that match, scored his first maiden first-class double century, a sublime 204 of 192 balls with 25 fours and 2 sixes. Warne, who bowled 16 overs, got smacked all around the Brabourne Stadium for 111 runs.

During the three-match Test series, Sachin scored two centuries – the first an unbeaten 155* in Chennai in the second innings of the match in a winning cause, and the second, a 177 in the final Test (a dead rubber for India that had already won the series), but in a losing cause.

During the ODIs, too, a tri-series that included Zimbabwe, Sachin sored fast runs, took his maiden five-wicket haul in limited overs cricket, and India won every match in that series, but lost in the finals.

Immediately after, India and Australia went to Sharjah in UAE and were joined by New Zealand for another tri-series. After a brilliant home series, India struggled in the qualifiers. They won one group match against New Zealand and lost the other. The first group match against Australia was no better.

The second match against Australia, however, will be cherished forever, even though we lost.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat. They ended up scoring 284/7 in 50 overs, thanks mainly to a century by Michael Bevan. Two things can be remembered during this session of the match: First, the altercation between an 18-year-old Harbhajan Singh and Ricky Ponting. After hitting the bowler for back-to-back boundaries, Harbhajan got Ponting stumped by bowling the doosra. Richie Benaud, who was in the commentary box at the time reacted to the footage in the most Benaud-esque manner possible.

The other moment was Australian captain Steve Waugh’s run out. Sachin Tendulkar who was fielding at the boundary threw the ball at Waugh’s end, hitting the stumps directly running out the flummoxed Aussie skipper.

287 was a great score at the time; all eyes were on Sachin.If he was out, the match was over.

India began cautiously with Sourav Ganguly going first with the score at 17. He was, however, lucky to see two of Sachin’s five sixes in the innings. Ian Chappell, who was in the commentary box said of those two hits, “Three dot balls. A single. And suddenly, bang, bang.”

Then during the 32nd over, Sharjah witnessed something never witnessed in the game of cricket before. A time out because of a sandstorm. This meant that India required 276 to win in 46 overs. More importantly, India required 237 in 46 overs to qualify for the finals.

And that’s when magic happened.

Sachin’s 143 of 131 balls was the talk of the town. He single-handedly took India to the finals of the tournament, and then scored another century on his birthday – a match-winning 134, which prompted Steve Waugh to say. “There’s nobody in the world that can bat like this guy. But then, I haven’t seen Bradman bat.”

Watch that magical 143 here.

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