NEW DELHI: Sachin Tendulkar has played 463 out of India's 999 One Day Internationals in the last 48 years and when he says the "ODI revolution" started in all its might during the 1996 World Cup in the sub-continent, one can hardly argue.
British author Mike Marqusee's seminal work 'War Minus Shooting', based on his journey through the sub-continent during the 1996 World Cup, has recently been re-published and whatever he observed during those six weeks in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka finds resonance in Tendulkar's words.
Economic liberalization happened in 1991, the Brand Tendulkar emerged in a gigantic fashion around the same time, and it was the Tendulkar in Blue that fans embraced.
"I totally agree that dream was to play Test cricket for India. That was the only thing that was in my mind and along with that ODI came but you don't dream of ODIs when you were a kid in that era," Tendulkar told PTI on the eve of India's 1000th ODI, against the West Indies.
"The hype of ODIs happened in 1996 World Cup and that was when the biggest transformation happened. Before that 1983 happened and it was magnificent. Yes, there were full capacity stadiums but post-1996 World Cup, things started changing and those changes were visible changes."
"I experienced those changes and a new dimension was given to ODIs," Tendulkar said, speaking about the commercial behemoth that the format eventually became, after being called 'Pyajama Cricket' during the Packer era.
'From red ball ODIs to morning white ball games, seen it all'
Featuring in India's 200th, 300th, 400th, 500th, 600th, 700th and 800th ODI, Tendulkar had played those red ball 50 over games in the hazy single-camera Doordarshan era and also the glitzy proper 50-over night games till 2012.
However, having played most of his cricket with a single ball in use and field restrictions that allowed extra fielder outside the 30-yard circle, one wonders if his 18000 (18426) plus ODI runs would have shot up to 22 or even 25,000 runs in this era.
"I had seen it all. If I remember correctly, we played ODI in whites till as late as 2000-01 against Zimbabwe. I remember my first white-ball experience was day games in New Zealand in the 1990 tri-series. In India, the first D/N game I played, we were given colored T-shirts and white trousers at JLN football stadium in Delhi," he recollected.
He thought the first time that India became serious about Day/Night cricket was in the 1993 Hero Cup at the floodlit Eden Gardens. "But even during that era, there would be white-ball games starting at 8:45 am or 9 am in the eastern part of the country. There was one white ball and when it got dirty, it would be difficult to sight and it also reversed. Now you have two white balls," he said.
"Now, we have very different settings including changes in rules with two new balls and the fielding restrictions are very different. But ODI fever started in the 1990s. On-field noticeable changes, the early to mid-90s was okay, but from 1996 things changed at a rapid pace," he observed.
"Post my retirement one-morning white ball ODI comes to mind where I think a boy from Pakistan -- Junaid -- really got help and dismissed Indian top-order at Chennai. The white ball in those conditions in Chepauk did a lot and I had just retired from ODIs. "
In 1991 Australia, it took time to adjust to colour of ball
In Australia, Tendulkar recollected how the itinerary was all over the place with the tour starting with a couple of Tests, followed by a few matches of the tri-series and then again Test matches and after that the final leg of the tri-series. It was followed by Tests and then again white ball.
"It wasn't just mental adjustment but it required getting used to colour of the ball. Australia, I remember, I can speak for myself, I took some time to get used to the white ball and then went to the red ball and then back to the white ball."
"It took time to adjust to the red ball as it came differently and once you got used to the white ball, it didn't matter much, along with the mental and physical adjustment. It was a unique thing for us."
My five best ODI inning
"It's very difficult to choose five memorable ODIs. I would keep the World Cup final out of the list as it's a feeling beyond words. You can't mix that with other games as it was the best day of my life," Tendulkar said.
The two 'Desert Storm' hundreds against a quality Australian attack in Sharjah would rank among his finest, besides the 200 against South Africa in Gwalior.
"That's a memorable knock as it was a good South African attack and it was the first time someone scored a double hundred in an ODI. It was special," he said.
Talking about ODIs, the six off Shoaib Akhtar and those 98 smashing runs against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup at Centurion find its pride of place among the top five.
"It was a pressure game and I could bat the way I wanted to. Centurion knock will be one of my best in World Cups."
Last but not least is the hundred against Kenya at Bristol, just after the death of his father, professor Ramesh Tendulkar.
"I had come home and seen my mother, I became very emotional. She was crestfallen after my father's death. But even in that hour of grief, she didn't want me to stay and wanted me to go back on national duty. I was in a deeply emotional state when I played that knock, and hence, it would be among my top five ODI innings," he said.