It’s so vivid in my memory that, I can replay it!
2003. Centurion Park, South Africa. Pakistan sets India a stiff target of 273.
India has a clean record against Pakistan in World Cups.
But that’s history. Having started the world cup disastrously, pilloried by the press and public, pressure’s on India (though they’re fighting back)
Supposedly a fast and bouncy pitch—-with Pakistan having Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib Akhtar in their arsenal.
Probably the best pace attack in the world.
India chasing a difficult target.
Now the short man’s at the peak of his genius.
But he’s facing the fastest bowler on earth on a battle field assisting his skills!
With the pressure of expectations of a billion people back home, this’s the defining moment,
The moment of truth, it’s now or never….
Tension filled atmosphere….
The first 3 deliveries are uneventful
4th ball, Akhtar runs in menacingly, it’s wide and outside off stump.
Normally Sachin would have left it alone. But he’s all pumped up…
And what happened next’s cricketing folklore now…
Sachin stretched himself towards point, bat at shoulder height…
Bang! Sends it soaring over third man for the maximum!
Game on… that’s an emphatic statement of intent…but who’s the real boss?
The next ball he compensates and bowls marginally on his legs. Sachin whips it to backward square leg for 4…no one has moved an inch.
That’s quintessential Tendulkar…
The next one, right on spot, just outside the off stump, and the firm trademark push screams for another boundary…
Bull’s taken by horns…and tamed to submission.
(Little did it matter that he went on to score 98 out 75-balls before being eventually getting out to Aktar, by when only the formalities were left)
But that shot of the 4th ball…such joy…ah