Widely considered the best ODI player ever, Sachin Tendulkar made his debut in the format exactly 27 years ago on December 18, 1989.
The Indian legend holds the record for maximum ODI appearances, runs, centuries and half-centuries and many other distinctions in a magnificent career, but he had a very forgettable international debut in the limited overs format as he scored a duck. Credit must be given to the Indian team selectors who continued to give opportunities to the then 16-year-old, which helped him cement his spot in the team in the following years.
India’s tour of Pakistan in 1989 was Tendulkar’s debut international series and there was a lot of curiosity on how the baby-faced teenager, batting in the middle-order, would fare against the fearsome fast bowling attack of Pakistan which included experienced Imran Khan, dangerous Wasim Akram and upcoming Waqar Younis, complemented by the mesmerizing spin of Abdul Qadir.
After making his debut in the Test on November 15, Tendulkar played all 4 Tests in the series(which was drawn 0-0) and scored 215 runs with two fifties and some credible fighting knocks which made everyone take note of the youngster.
Glimpses of potential in exhibition game
The ODI series followed the Tests, and the first game at Peshawar on December 16 was abandoned due to poor light. A 20-overs a side exhibition game was played instead for the crowd and Tendulkar scored an entertaining 53 from just 18 balls. While India lost the game narrowly, Tendulkar gave a glimpse of his potential in the shorter version of the game.
An interesting anecdote from the match which Tendulkar shared later was that after he had hit Mushtaq Ahmed for two sixes, Abdul Qadir approached him and said "Bachchon ko kyon mar rahe ho? Hamein bhi maar dikhao" ("Why are you only hitting the kid? Hit me too.") Tendulkar duly responded by smashing 28 runs in an over (6, 0, 4, 6, 6, 6) off the bowling of the veteran leg-spinner.
The second ODI at Gujranwala on December 18 saw Tendulkar’s international debut in the limited overs format. (The game also saw Salil Ankola and Vivek Razdan make their ODI debut, though the fast bowlers went on to having contrasting careers in international cricket compared to Tendulkar – Razdan played just 2 Tests and 3 ODIs, while Ankola played a single Test and 20 ODIs before he switched to a career in acting.)
Poor light played spoilsport once again and the match was reduced to 16 overs a side. Batting first, Pakistan made 87 for the loss of 9 wickets in their allotted 16 overs with Saeed Anwar scoring a quick fire 42 not out off 32 deliveries.
In response, India tried to score quick runs early on but their run chase had brakes put on by regular wickets. Raman Lamba was run out in the 8th over to leave the visitors at 34-3.
Second ball duck
Lamba’s dismissal brought Tendulkar to the crease to face Waqar Younis. While the two players had made their Test debuts in the same game a month ago (where Tendulkar was dismissed by Waqar), Waqar had already played 8 ODIs prior to the game.
With India requiring more than a run-a-ball, there were hopes of Tendulkar continuing his attacking game from where he left off in the exhibition match, but his stay at the crease was short-lived.
He was dismissed without disturbing the scorers off the second delivery he faced from Waqar as he struck the ball straight to Wasim Akram. Despite a valiant attempt by Mohammad Azharuddin, the visitors fell short of Pakistan’s total by 7 runs.
What followed next?
Tendulkar was dropped from the playing XI and replaced by Sanjay Manjrekar for the remainder of the ODI series as India lost the series 0-2 (with two games being abandoned or having no result).
Tendulkar next played for India in an ODI two and a half months later against New Zealand at Dunedin where, coincidentally, he again scored a second ball duck. Luckily for Tendulkar (and for the sport!), the team management didn’t lose faith in him and he again got a chance to represent the team later in the series where he scored the first of his 18426 runs in the knock of 36 against the hosts. He went on establish himself as a permanent fixture in the Indian ODI team by the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
Sachin Tendulkar had taken the first few steps in his journey in international cricket. The rest (as the cliché goes) is history!