The ‘Desert Storm’ innings and the century in the final are two of Sachin Tendulkar’s most reminisced knocks. The heroic efforts – a century to ensure India qualified for the final of the tri-series and then another in the final, against the top ODI side in the world Australia is a folklore in India’s cricket history. Despite Tendulkar’s massive hand, India failed to win the league match. However, his innings in the final was enough for India to chase down a massive 273 on a magical night in Sharjah. For the cherry on top, it was on his 25th birthday!
With the innings being more than 20 years old, we look back some of the biggest moments from that innings in 1998!
The inside-edge that nearly ended the final
Damien Fleming, who tuned 28 on the same day, nearly had the priced scalp in the fifth over. Tendulkar was tempted to offer a shot to the away swinger but took evasive action in the final moments. The ball ricocheted of his inside-edge and missed the off-stump by millimeters, going to the fine-leg boundary instead.
Sachin later on admitted that Fleming was bowling well on the night and his intention was see off his first spell. The story could have played out very differently if luck had not favoured the younger birthday boy!
Welcomes Shane Warne with a six
The Sharjah final provided another chapter in the Tendulkar vs Warne series. It was the batsman that took the glory on this instance.
The leg-spinner was introduced early after the purchase received by the seamers had lapsed. Pinch-hitter Nayan Mongia was sent ahead to score quick runs and provide support to Tendulkar as he got his eye in. In order to exploit the rough patches outside the leg-stump, Warne came around the wicket in the 20th over – a tactic he often used to good effect in subcontinent conditions. However, Warne was greeted with a six over long on on the very first ball. The leg-spinner looked bewildered by what had transpired. Warne ended up conceding 61 runs and went wicketless in his 10 overs.
“He’s half his size!”
While Tendulkar’s charge down the wicket to smash Tom Moody for a six was incredible, Tony Grieg’s comment on air took the glory.
“The little man has hit the big fella for six. He’s half his size!”
Needs to be mentioned; Tendulkar’s on-field heroics was amplified by the magnificence of the former England skipper behind the microphone.
The straight six on the roof
The six that is most remembered from Tendulkar’s knock was the straight drive off Michael Kasprowicz. Tendulkar was keen on finishing the match – a task he couldn’t manage two days ago. The first ball off the 44th over was timed to perfection; high over the bowler’s head and onto the roof. It seemed like the bowler had a verbal exchange with Tendulkar prior to the over; the six came in reply.
Kasprowicz did have the final say, dismissing Tendulkar two balls later. Although, it was poor decision by umpire Javed Akhtar. Coming around the wicket, the ball had neither pitched on leg-stump nor hit the pads in line. But Tendulkar, along with Mohammad Azharuddin, had done plenty to make sure Indian reached the target.
‘I wish I could have many more birthdays like this. It’s good for the country.’
Despite Ravi Shastri asking a question on his ‘riches’, Tendulkar modestly answered that it would be good for the nation to have many more nights like those. He bettered that by following up with the innings being a gift for his wife, despite being tired, on his birthday. Perfect on and off the field!
The Opel Astra
Finally came this moment; the drive around with the team on the new Opel Astra!