SK Flashback: The ageless Sachin Tendulkar breaches Mount 200
24 February 2010 will always be remembered as an important day in ODI cricket history. It was the day when a master reduced the passage of time to irrelevance, when a supremely gifted batsman combined force with ethereal splendor, when arguably the greatest willow wielder the sport has ever seen breached the 200-run mark in ODI cricket.
Sachin Tendulkar added yet another jewel to his already glittering crown on that day. He stretched the limits of what was possible in the game, and at the age of 36, carted the South African bowling to all parts of the ground.
India won the toss and decided to bat first on a bright day. On what was a beautiful strip for batting, Tendulkar opened his account with a delectable off drive off Wayne Parnell. The ball was pitched on off stump, the master leaned forward and just punched it past mid-off, and the ball raced to the boundary.
The bowler tried to compensate by bowling on Tendulkar’s pads, but was flicked past mid-wicket for another boundary.
Tendulkar then pulled Dale Steyn past mid-wicket with force. The ball was just a fraction short, and Tendulkar rocked back onto the back foot, got his wrists into play, and executed the pull to perfection.
His next boundary off Parnell proved that it was a master at work. Parnell bowled a perfectly good delivery on off stump, but Tendulkar gave himself room and just punched the ball between cover and point for a boundary.
Tendulkar then welcomed Charl Langeveldt to the bowling crease by lofting him over mid-on for a boundary. Then, on the second ball of 16th over, Tendulkar went inside out, and dispatched the left arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe over cover for a boundary.
He was completely in the zone, and the South African bowlers were almost rendered helpless.
Tendulkar reached his 46th ODI hundred with a single to deep point off JP Duminy, and the packed house at Gwalior erupted in unbridled joy. After crossing the three-figure mark, Tendulkar opened up his shoulders even more.
He first pulled Jacques Kallis past mid-wicket for four. And when the bowler bowled one fuller, Tendulkar smashed him over his head for another boundary.
Tendulkar then shimmied down the track with the elegance of a seasoned ballet performer and carted Duminy over long-on for a six. It was Tendulkar’s first six of the game, and it was executed with flawless splendour.
Tendulkar then started playing with the field. Steyn fired in a low full toss on off stump, but the master batsman moved across his stumps and flicked him past mid-wicket for four. It was a magician who was baffling everyone around him; the South Africans looked just as enraptured by the ethereal onslaught from Tendulkar as did the spectators.
The diminutive playmaker reached his 150 with a flick past mid-wicket for four off Parnell, but showed no signs of stopping. He then moved towards the off stump, and pummeled Langeveldt over mid-wicket for a six with a mere flick of the wrists.
The bat in his hand was like a magic wand, and he was using it to cast an enchanting spell on the opposition.
Tendulkar continued to make merry as he approached the landmark. On the last ball of the 42nd over, the master stood still and smashed Van der Merwe over his head for a boundary. On the last ball of the 43nd over, Kallis bowled a full toss on Tendulkar’s pads; considering the form that Tendulkar was in, it was a gift, and the batsman gleefully accepted it - flicking the ball past square leg for a boundary.
With that hit to the fence, Tendulkar equaled his previous highest score of 186 runs in ODIs..
Off the fourth ball of the 46th over, Tendulkar flicked the ball and scampered for two, and with that, reached the highest ever score in ODI cricket. He was now just five runs away from a historic double hundred.
The moment arrived on the third ball of the 50th over. Langeveldt bowled a full delivery on off stump, Tendulkar tapped it for a single, and at the age of 36, became the first man to breach the 200-run barrier in ODI cricket.
Ravi Shastri went absolutely ballistic in the commentary box, screaming: “First man on the planet to reach 200. And it is the Superman from India, Sachin Tendulkar. 200 from just 147. Take a bow master."
It had taken almost 39 years since the first ODI had been played for someone to breach the 200-run mark. It was fitting that it came from the willow of a man widely regarded as the greatest to ever play ODI cricket.
Since then there have been seven more double hundreds recorded in the ODI format. But Tendulkar was the first man to show how it could be done. He was the first man to extend the limits of possibility, to explore places that other mortals couldn't even imagine.