Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were the heroes in Hyderabad on Monday when India avenged its Rajkot defeat at the hands of New Zealand. So, this five-match One-Day International Series between these countries stood at 1-1after the second encounter. At Rajkot, in the first outing, the Kiwis had made 349 and won by 43 runs. And today in Hyderabad, India posted an imposing total of 376 for two and clinched the issue by 174 runs.
Not for nothing Tendulkar and Dravid are rated as world class batsmen. Ability to rise from the depths of despair is one of the chief characteristics of a champion. Tendulkar lost his father during the World Cup 99. He flew home for the funeral, returned to the World Cup and smashed a century against Kenya. For the current 1999-2000 season, Tendulkar was made India's captain. Even as the team was getting ready for the first tour of the season (Sri Lanka), Tendulkar's nagging back problem hit the headlines.
He made the trip to Sri Lanka but midway through the Singapore Cup, the little master had to rush to Australia for treatment but not before smashing a century. He was back in the throne after missing the Toronto and Nairobi ODI trips. In the recently concluded three-Test Series against New Zealand, Tendulkar blasted two hundreds (including his career best 217) to underline his greatness. Today, this most shining star in the Indian sports horizon, rose to glory in his inimitable style. Registering his 24th century in ODI, the India skipper became his country's highest individual scorer.
Winning the toss, he opened the innings and stayed there till the end in a total of 376 for two in 50 overs. His contribution was an unbeaten 186 made of 150 balls (20x4, 3x6). Till this effort by Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly's 183 in the World Cup 99, was the highest score by an Indian in the ODI history. Now only Pakistan's Saeed Anwar (194), West Indies' Viv Richards (189) and South Africa's Gary Kirsten (188) are ahead of Tendulkar. The little genius might have as well emerged as the world's highest ODI scorer today if only he had a couple of more overs for the day. Anyway, Tendulkar has never been a man after "Records". His only aim has been "my contribution must help my team win the game". Today, his bowling colleagues made him the happiest by leading the side to a cakewalk victory. Rahul Dravid, for a long time since his international debut in the summer of 1996, had been dubbed as a champion only in the longer version of the game.
His technique and approach were considered as liabilities to India's One-Day team. Whether unbiased men made such observations would ever remain a debatable point. Dravid was driven into oblivion as for as ODIs were concerned. As it happens in the careers of most champions, Dravid could not be kept away from ODIs for long. Dravid was back in India's ODI team early this year in New Zealand. He exhibited his amazing ability to switch his technique admirably and in the World Cup 99 came up with some marvelous efforts to be recognised as one of World's best batsmen in both versions of the game.
And today, he raced to his 7th ODI century (153, 153 balls, 15x4, 2x6). Incidentally, this was his highest in the ODIs. His previous best was 143 against Sri Lanka in the World Cup 99. It was in the fitness of things that these two set a world record partnership of 331 for the second wicket. India lost the wicket of opener Ganguly with the score at 10 in an unfortunate manner. Tendulkar drove O'Connor hard.
The ball hit the stumps at the non-striker's end off the hand of O'Connor. Ganguly who was out of his crease was thus got run out. Thereafter, it was a grand exhibition of batsmanship marked by typical cricket shots. Tendulkar and Dravid hardly executed a stroke that belongs to the slam-bang variety. No doubt the New Zealand attack was handicapped by the absence of an injured Dion Nash. But then, destroying an attack with methodical efficiency, is an art. Tendulkar and Dravid proved that point in a telling fashion today.