HomeCricketDesert Storm: When Sachin Tendulkar Illuminated Sharjah

Desert Storm: When Sachin Tendulkar Illuminated Sharjah

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22 years ago on this very day, Sachin Tendulkar brought about a dessert storm with his batting in Sharjah. The excitement in the air was palpable. The Sharjah cricket stadium was teetering with anticipation and represented a battlefield of gargantuan proportions.

The mighty Australian side was taking on a mediocre Indian outfit, whose hopes all but hinged on one man, five foot something with curly hair and a squeaky voice.

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People were expecting a miracle from the willow of Sachin Tendulkar if India were to challenge a strong Australian side in the deserts of Sharjah. This was a time when T20 cricket was still a decade away and a target of 284 against the strongest bowling attack in the world was sure to make matters worse for the Indians.

Sachin Tendulkar Made His Intentions Clear

Sachin Tendulkar recalls 1998 Sharjah knocks against Australia - The Hindu
Sachin Tendulkar pulls a ball from Steve Waugh (Image Credits: The Hindu)

Remember, Tendulkar was not even 25 years old when he took guard for India on 22nd April 1998, but had become the batting divinity to whom people turned to have their prayers answered.

And, the master did not disappoint on that day. Sachin Tendulkar made his intentions clear in the fifth over of the game. He stepped out and swatted Kasprowicz over mid wicket with panache for a six.

The bowler went short the next delivery, Tendulkar rocked onto the back foot, and pulled him in front of square for another six. The momentum had swung in India’s favour, and Tendulkar was leading the charge with the bat.

Sachin Had Set Himself For A Big Hundred

The fifth ball of the 12th over witnessed sorcery from the willow of the master. Kasprowicz bowled a perfect delivery on off stump, Tendulkar rose on his toes, opened the face of the bat and split the gap between point and cover with a precision that can put a surgeon to shame. He was proving that if he can butcher the cherry for a six, he can also caress it for a boundary.

When Sachin Tendulkar started the 'desert storm'
Sachin Tendulkar during his knock against Australia in Sharjah in 1998 (image Credits: India TV)

Sachin Tendulkar reached his fifty with a single to mid off. And, as the master rose his bat to acknowledge the deafening cheers of a packed Sharjah stadium, Tony Greig exclaimed on air “It looks as if Tendulkar has set himself to get a big hundred.”

Sachin Tendulkar And The Desert Storm

Then, came the storm that would become a part of cricketing folklore forever. It almost seemed as if nature wanted to play a part too, in the Tendulkar narrative. The target for the Indians was revised to 276 off 46 overs. Tendulkar was still out there, and that meant that the hopes were alive too.

This Day, That Year: India Batting Legend Sachin Tendulkar Iconic ...
Sachin Tendulkar After completing his century (Image Credits: India.com)

Tendulkar did not waste any time after the break. He hoisted Kasprowicz over Long Off for a six, and the crowd was on its feet to salute the batting maestro. The ‘Little Master’ scampered for a two to complete his 14th ODI hundred. The celebrations were muted from the great man, for Tendulkar knew that the job was not done yet. He had to stay as long as possible, and take the match deep.

Off the third ball of the 40th over, Tendulkar moved inside the line and flicked Damien Fleming behind square for a boundary. He was toying with the field, and the opposition had no option but to gape at him in awe. “They are dancing in the aisles in Sharjah”, exclaimed a ballistic Greig, and those words are immortalized now in cricketing folklore.”

Why are Sachin Tendulkar’s Sharjah innings so famous? - Quora
Sachin Tendulkar cuts a ball during his innings at Sharjah (Image Credits: Quora)

Tendulkar was now batting like a man possessed. He hoisted Tom Moody with a perfectly straight bat and the ball landed on the sight screen. Tendulkar was single handedly taking India closer to the finish line.

The equation boiled down to 42 runs off the last four overs. The Aussies were slowly starting to wilt under the pressure. Tendulkar showed no signs of stopping though. He hoisted Damien Fleming on the roof of the stadium off the first ball of the 42nd over. Off the fifth ball of the same over, Tendulkar gave himself room and smashed Fleming over cover. It was getting easy now. It looked as if India might pull off the improbable.

But then, in the last ball of the 43rd over, disaster struck. Fleming bowled a short delivery, Tendulkar went for the pull, and the ball took the faintest of edges. The umpire was not convinced, but Tendulkar being the gentleman that he is, walked back to a rousing ovation from the crowd.

The rest of the Indian batting line up crumbled like a pack of cards after Tendulkar’s dismissal, but India had qualified for the final. Two days later, Sachin Tendulkar would go onto score another magical hundred against the same opponent at the very same venue. But, that is for another day.

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