Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has turned 45 on April 24.
There is only handful of players to have scored centuries on their birthdays and Sachin Tendulkar is one of them.
However, his more famous century came two days before his birthday and Sachin recently recalled his brilliant ‘desert storm’ century against Australia in Sharjah 1998.
India needed at least 254 runs to make the final on better run rate after Australia had put up a sizeable total of 284. Then came a desert storm, with India on 143/4 in 31 overs. India then required 237 runs in 46 overs to enter the finals.
Sachin scored a masterful 143 to guide India into the finals of the tournament, to be played on his birthday, April 24.
Sachin recalls, “Talking about the Sharjah trip in 1998, it was a special one, a big one because it is something which happened with me for the first time on the cricket field. When I was batting there and suddenly I see this desert storm approaching us. It was like a Hollywood movie and the first thought that came to my mind was ‘Where is Gilchrist?’ because I thought I would be blown away and I was all prepared to grab him.”
“But all that happened and we went to the dressing room and the target was reshuffled and a fresh target was given to us. One thing that was going on in my mind was that we need to win against Australia because if we qualify for the finals, having beaten them in the earlier game we would get them to think,” he continues.
Sachin says, “We were staying in Dubai so the drive post match from Sharjah to Dubai, you unwind and go to sleep, it was almost 2.30am. The next day I was meeting Ravi (Shastri), my former manager Mark Mascarenhas for lunch and I felt I hadn’t recovered. In those days, due to lack to knowledge and lack of awareness the post-match recovery programmes were not given as much importance to be honest and this has happened in the last 10-15 years.”
“I woke up in the morning feeling really stiff and I went out and had lunch with them and later on in the evening there was another official dinner. So there was no time for recovery as such and by the time I realised the next day we were going to the ground and it happened to be my birthday so all the celebrations happened and a number of cakes were cut and here I was out in the middle.”
Sachin said, “I was trying to focus and I knew it was all about spending as much time as possible there and then the rhythm was going to come back. It took about 5-6 overs and till then I was not at all happy with the way I was moving and eventually confidence is all about which part of the bat is hitting the ball and I wasn’t finding the middle of the bat.”
Sachin concluded, “I waited for my turn and eventually I played those couple of big shots of (Michael) Kasprowicz which went for two sixes in a row and from there on things started rolling the way I wanted and we ended up winning the tournament,” Sachin Tendulkar said of arguably one of his finest one-day innings.”
Sachin scored 134 on his birthday, on April 24, 1998, in order to guide India to the title against Australia in the finals.
“But what an incredible experience it was. That was one period where Australians travelled across the world and thrashed everyone. They were by far the best side in the world and go out chase 270-odd was a big ask but we were able to do that. When I got back also, the kind of reception that I received is still there.”
“I remember yesterday itself I was talking to one of my friends and we were discussing about that single wicket tournament in Shivaji Park where I was there as the chief guest the next day so that buzz was such that Shivaji Park was completely crowded with cricket fans and that left an impression on me and it was all due to Sharjah,” said Tendulkar.