Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
Sachin Tendulkar usually needs no inspiration. He is a genius and bats like one. But today, that extra special innings of 140 not out in 101 balls against Kenya was definitely an inspiration from above. It was his way of showing his recently departed father how much he missed him. When he reached his fifty he looked up at the heavens, convinced his father was watching from above and fifty runs later he was looking up again!
It was an emotional moment for all the millions watching and there would have been many moist eyes in living rooms around the world, especially so at the Tendulkar home.
His father had said that as a superstition, he never watched Sachin bat but today from the heavens above he surely must have watched his son play one of his greatest one day knocks.
Once his hundred was reached and he was at peace with himself, he began playing some of the most amazing and outrageous shots, some of them great batsmen can only fantasize playing. He hadn't smiled once throughout that fantastic innings (his face seemed to be cut from stone) until a smile crossed his lips as soon as he played a most fearsome reverse sweep which would have done a left hander of the class of Gary Sobers proud.
Before that he had with a flick of his wrist sent a low full toss from spinner Odumbe crashing into the fine third man boundary. Lesser mortals play the same ball to fine leg and the only other batsman who I think ... could have played a shot of such genius is our own Gundappa Vishwanath - on one of his better days.
At the beginning of the innings, Sachin played with utmost care making sure he got his feet moving and his hand-eye co-ordination perfect. He showed no signs of jet lag, again something lesser mortals complain of. Bad balls were punished early on, and later even good ones disappeared over the boundary.
Agreed, the Kenyan bowling was never going to trouble him, whatever his frame of mind. But to put a personal tragedy of such enormity behind him and still produce an exhibition of such quality confirms what great players have being saying all along - that Sachin is second only to Donald Bradman himself and God knows there have been many special players in the past 125 years.
For the record, 26 year old Sachin scored his 22nd One day hundred and his 41st international century (he has 19 test hundreds). At this rate, assuming he plays for another 10 years, he should get over 100 international hundreds, a record that will never be broken, a bit like the Don's test batting average of 99.94.
In between all this, as the Sachin Tendulkar drama unfolded, Rahul Dravid moved on to his 4th one day hundred, a beautiful knock but overshadowed by Sachin's. I reckon if Sachin gets a big score, just about every other batsman on planet earth will get the feeling of being a second class citizen. Their unbeaten partnership of 237 for the 3rd wicket is a world record and India also reached its highest one day score of 329.
The rest of the match was academic. Kenya batted well and scored 235 for seven in 50 overs. The Indian bowling was pedestrian at best, only Srinath in the early stages troubled the batsmen and unless India pulls up its socks in the bowling department and in a hurry, the dreams of millions of Indians that India will win the world cup will remain just that - a dream.
But one thing is certain- Sachin's tribute to his father was an innings even the greatest batsmen in the world wouldn't dare dream about. And at the end of the day, on being declared Man of the match, the Master Blaster emotionally dedicated the hundred to his dad and the rest of his family while receiving his bottle of champagne and US $6000 Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE1999
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online. For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.