Apart from Chennai, this city has a special place for Sachin Tendulkar. The fact that big knocks of 186 not out against New Zealand at Lal Bahadur Stadium in 1999 and 175 against the Ricky Ponting-led Australian team at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, in 2009 here bears the testimony. Incidentally, both were one-dayers.
“I had pleasant memories of the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad. It was the venue where I had scored 186 against New Zealand in 1999-00. The new Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium was a much better facility. The ground was well-maintained, and the arrangements excellent for both players and spectators,’’ said Tendulkar in BCCI’s website.
In the first instance, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid turned the festival of lights into festival of run-riot in the second one-dayer of the 1999 series. It helped India to thrash New Zealand by 174 runs . It was in this match, he had surpassed Sourav Ganguly’s previous ODI highest of 183 by an Indian batsman. Later on in 2010, Tendulkar went on to become the first batsman to score a double century against South Africa at Gwalior. In the 1999 match, Tendulkar was in murderous mood as he slammed 19 fours and four sixes. That match saw Dravid and Tendulkar putting on 331 for the second wicket, the best for any wicket in the history of ODIs.
Ten years later, an older Tendulkar at 36, played one of the greatest one-day centuries but this time India were on the losing side against the Australia. That time India were chasing a mammoth 351 runs for victory. It prompted Ponting to say that innings as one of the best. “It reminded me of the stormy innings of Sharjah. He is one of the greatest players of the game and this is one of his best innings so far that I know. He was looking dangerous right from the beginning and played shots all over the ground in the terrific innings,’’ Ponting had said after the match.
He was a one-man army in that valiant chase. The Uppal Stadium crowd was delirious as he played all the strokes in the book before falling to a tired shot. “One of the good things about chasing a big total is that there is no ambiguity regarding the strategy you have to adopt. We knew we had to go for it from the outset and play strokes. I felt that I wasn’t timing the ball well, and we]nt in for a change of bat. I shifted to a brand new willow, and that changed things,’’ revealed Tendulkar.
Tendulkar said many had compared this knock with the hundreds at Sharjah in 1998. ”I have been asked on a few occasions to compare the 175 with the back-to-back hundreds against the same team at Sharjah in 1998. I don’t think a comparison can be made. The expectations were way higher at the final stages of the tri-series in Sharjah,’’ he said, adding “I would have gladly traded those 175 runs for a victory.’’
Although he played two Tests against New Zealand, he could not get substantial scores. In 2010, Tendulkar fell to a slog-over shot and top edge shot off left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori was held by a diving Ross Taylor at slips for 13.
In August in 2012, left-arm seamer Trent Boult castled the maestro by an in-coming delivery for 19. It led to questions whether Tendulkar’s reflexes have come down. But seven months later, Tendulkar had made his intent clear in the first Test at Chennai. There is a more resolute Tendulkar, ready for yet another battle at Uppal. With his feet moving and with perfect body balance, 40-year-old Tendulkar seems to work his way out.
Will a determined Tendulkar regale and make a strong statement?