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Cricket World Cup History: Reliving Pakistan v India | 2003 Group Match, Centurion

rehaan díaz
260   //    Timeless

Sachin Tendulkar played his greatest World Cup innings against Pakistan in Centurion
Sachin Tendulkar played his greatest World Cup innings against Pakistan in Centurion

March 1, 2003 | Supersport Park, Centurion

The expectations from the latest World Cup clash were for a high-voltage, high-quality contest in Old Trafford, Manchester. The fans were feverish, fuelled by the cross-border tension that came to a boil earlier in February 2019. So much so that there were calls for India to boycott the fixture. So on match day, the anticipation was immense. However, the build-up pales in comparison to 2003, when India and Pakistan were drawn in the same group, hence ensuring a World Cup clash (1992 was round robin, 1999 was in Super Sixes).

Having known the date of the fixture for a year, the hype leading to this contest was possibly the most that an India-Pakistan clash had ever seen or since witnessed. Facing each other for the first time in almost 3 years, it was Pakistan who needed the win more desperately. They scored a formidable 273 on the back of a vintage and wristy Saeed Anwar century. It seemed more than enough; after all, they had the combined might of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar to blow away the Indian line-up. 

But Sachin Tendulkar walked out to own the contest; producing the most electrifying passage of play ever witnessed in an India-Pakistan cricket match. His belief and courage was contagious and emboldening. His contest with Shoaib Akhtar – full of fire and brimstone – was India versus Pakistan in microcosm, and Sachin was at his most sublime, stroking his purest, almost orgasmic ODI innings. The uppercut six from him against Akhtar still has a psychological impact on the Pakistanis. The sheer brilliance in his flurry of boundaries was nothing short of blockbuster entertainment.

Ali Bacher - the chief of the 2003 World Cup organising committee wrote in a personal message to him saying, "We wanted this World Cup to be the most successful ever and your innings against Pakistan at Centurion has helped us achieve that. "

When he fell for 98, the match was already won in spirit. Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh easily resisted any chances of a Pakistani fightback. Countless memories were made during that chase, enough to last a lifetime, and possibly for close to a billion people. Beyond memorable!

Pakistan 273/7 (50 overs) | Saeed Anwar 101(126), Zaheer Khan 2/46

India 276/4 (45.4 overs) | Sachin Tendulkar 98(75), Waqar Younis 2/71

India won by 6 wickets | Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar