Reliving Sachin Tendulkar's first Test Match Century
“There it is, test match hundred for Tendulkar. Aged 17 years and 112 days..one of the youngest ever to get a test match hundred. An innings of skill, temperament & delightful straight drive.”
These were the words of legendary commentator Late Richie Benaud, when a teenager named Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar reached to his first test match century at Old Trafford, Manchester; and in the process saved a test match for India.
We will see a lot more centuries flow from his bat, I just hope I am around to see them
At the end of the match, Richie went on to add, “We will see a lot more centuries flow from his bat, I just hope I am around to see them”.
Now commentators do often use such superlatives for great knocks. But little did Richie or for that matter, the entire cricketing world knew that this would be the first of the 100 centuries that would come from the bat of this champion. I will not dwell much into his century of centuries as a lot has been said and written about them.
At 109-4, was the Indian team starring another defeat?
Coming back to August 14th of 1990 in Old Trafford, Indians were up against the wall. Indians were already down 0-1 in the three-match test series and chasing a target of 408 runs in a minimum of 88 overs in the second had just crossed 100 runs for the loss of four wickets when Tendulkar came in to back.
Skipper Mohammad Azharuddin left the youngster all alone at 127 runs and when all-rounder Kapil Dev’s wicket fell to Ed Hemmings the Indian scorecard read at 183 runs for the loss of six wickets. It looked like yet another defeat for the Indians outside the subcontinent.
But what followed was a sight that we became used to in the 1990s - Tendulkar scores and India does well. This match was the beginning of the two most famous question ever asked in the history of Indian cricket - “Tendulkar hai kya?” (Is Tendulkar there?) or “Sachin kitna maara?” (How much did Sachin score?). His good score became synonymous with India’s victory and a low score from him meant a defeat.
An innings which saved the match
So, in this match on the eve of India’s 44th independence day, Tendulkar along with Manoj Prabhakar put together an unbeaten partnership of 160 runs. When Prabhakar had joined Tendulkar, there were around two and half hours left in the game.
The duo battled against the Englishmen and saved India from an imminent defeat. This century combined with a first innings score of 68 runs earned Tendulkar one of his many man of the match awards.
Wisden’s report on the match states that his innings in which he batted for 224 minutes and hit seventeen fours reminded the Indians of Sunil Gavaskar. His off-side shots of the back-foot which later on became his trademark shots came in for special praise. His short height of 5ft 5in was another reason that drew a comparison with Gavaskar.
Many people till date call this to be one of the best Tendulkar centuries. But I guess when you have a century of centuries you are bound to be spoilt by choices. The fact remains that till the time the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag & VVS Laxman came into their own form, a lone Tendulkar was the flag bearer of the Indian team.
He did get occasional support from Azhar but most of 1990s in Indian cricket was about Tendulkar’s batting.