India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.
February 24, 2010: Tendulkar conquers Mt. 200
He blended power with finesse, created and innovated, conjured and constructed. And the man familiar with conquests, conquered once again.
Sachin Tendulkar made history at Gwalior’s Roop Singh Stadium on February 24, 2010. The timeless fort in the nearby mountain stood witness to an immortal feat.
The arena and the stands were a sea of emotions as Tendulkar glided paceman Charl Langeveldt past point off the third ball of the 50th over and completed a single. The packed stadium exploded in joy.
His arms were raised in triumph, sweat streamed down his forehead, and he went into a little trance as he looked towards the sky. The deeply introspective Tendulkar was savouring the moment; rather he was not allowing the moment to fly away.
He must have answered many questions he had asked himself as he shut his eyes for those precious seconds he had found for himself in the middle of a mayhem.
Was he still a champion in the physically draining one-day cricket, after 20 international years? Could he still bat from the start and scamper for runs towards the end of the innings?
The answers must have been loud and clear. Tendulkar smiled, acknowledged the rousing cheers from the crowd and accepted the greetings from non-striker Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the sporting South Africans.
The first 200 in the ODI that I scored against South Africa (in Gwalior in 2010) is one of my top ODI innings. Their bowling attack was very good, and they were a very good opposition. That was the first time in the history of ODIs someone scored 200 runs, so that has its own relevance.
— Sachin Tendulkar
On his favourite ODI knock in 2022
Tendulkar, 36, but ageless really, had become the first batsman to script a double hundred in ODIs. It was a sensational innings of near perfection; Tendulkar was beaten once by a Dale Steyn leg-cutter early on, but middled the ball subsequently.
Tendulkar cover drove Steyn with his feet to the pitch of the ball, his willow flowing into the stroke. The ball sped to the fence; nobody moved.
Moments later, left-arm paceman Wayne Parnell was gloriously off-driven to the fence. Tendulkar was supremely balanced — his body and mind were in harmony — and his timing impeccable.
Soon, Steyn was pulled fiercely. The signs were ominous for the South Africans. Tendulkar was high on octane and low on sympathy for the bowlers — his first 50 consumed just 37 deliveries.
The maestro, with Dinesh Karthik providing enterprising support from the other end, was toying with the bowling. He was picking the length quickly — as he normally does — giving himself a split second more to find the gaps. The ball streaked through the open spaces.
The crowd was warming up to the legend. And Tendulkar was warming up for a date with history.
Tendulkar’s relationship with the audience has always been a symbiotic one. The master batsman, gliding into his strokes and moving into the ‘zone’, continued to delight. When swing bowler Langeveldt erred in line, Tendulkar flicked him with supple wrists past the mid-wicket fence. His on-side strokes have always been underlined by balance and poise.
As his innings progressed, more aspects of Tendulkar’s batsmanship tormented the South Africans. When left-arm spinner van der Merwe attempted a leg-stump line, Tendulkar, with delicate footwork, danced down to get beside the line of the ball, made room, and lofted over covers. It was a wonderful piece of innovation.
When Steyn returned, he was deliberately sliced over point. And left-armer Parnell, who shifted to round-the-wicket to narrow down the angle, was exquisitely driven square off the wicket.
Being a double century it has a different impact. I planned as the innings progressed - I worked out the bowlers and short-listed the areas where I would play my shots, off a particular bowler. A lot of experts have been surprised by the pace I set and the fitness I showed when running between the wickets even after crossing 190. To tell you the truth, I have not analysed it so closely. I take every innings by the conditions I face. You can’t be predetermined. You want to do a lot but you can’t always do them. I was certainly happy with the fact that I was able to take ones and twos even after I had crossed 150.
— Sachin Tendulkar
Reflecting on the 200 not out in Gwalior
The South African attack was hapless as Tendulkar cut loose. A fast outfield was not making the visitors’ cause any easier. The fielders were chasing leather.
Partners changed — Karthik was replaced by the big-hitting Yusuf Pathan and then Dhoni on a belter — but Tendulkar continued to pound the bowling. Gradually, milestones fell. Tendulkar reached his 46th ODI hundred — in 90 balls — but did not take his foot off the pedal. He got to his 150 in only his 118th ball.
Tendulkar, turning Parnell for a brace in the 46th over, became the highest scorer in ODI cricket, surpassing the 194 of Pakistan’s Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry of Zimbabwe.
His sights firmly on a double hundred, Tendulkar was restrained in his celebration. He was in some pain as well, clutching his right hamstring. And he broke the 200-run barrier in the 50th over.
Tendulkar walked back undefeated to a standing ovation. Fireworks lit the sky. It was a night of celebrations.
It was also a day when Tendulkar waltzed. It was a savage onslaught, yet a beautiful one.
( The article from S. Dinakar was originally published in the Sportstar magazine in the year 2010)