Centurion: Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has dedicated his hurricane 98 against Pakistan to his elder brother Ajit and termed it as the most outstanding knock of his career yet.Tendulkar walloped Pakistan with a most memorable assault at Centurion Park yesterday setting up a win for his team which was chasing a daunting target of 274 runs. Tendulkar revealed he had spoken to his elder brother at length before coming for this World Cup and the discussion apparently has had a good effect on the little master's form.
He has smashed 469 runs in his six innings so far including one hundred and three fifties. He also rated Saturday's knock even better than the two successive hundreds he made against Australia in Coca Cola Cup in Sharjah in 1998."In terms of this being a World Cup and a game against Pakistan, this is even a more favourite knock than the ones of 1998," said Tendulkar as he savoured the victory. Tendulkar had hit two hundreds in succession against the world champions in Sharjah which enabled India to qualify for the final and eventually win the title.
Accolades poured in from all corners with the cricket world rising as one to hail one of the most memorable knocks seen in One-day Internationals. "Happily, the match was dominated by its greatest player, the best batsman to appear since war," wrote celebrated cricket writer Peter Roebuck. "No longer can Indian fans grumble that Tendulkar does not perform when it matters. His innings was a calculated, withering assault upon a desperate opponent. Moreover, he was as responsible as he was inspired.
"Not once did Tendulkar lose his head, not even as the score rattled along. Well as Tendulkar batted, his refusal to take a runner in the midst of his innings was a big gamble considering his cramps got aggravated to the extent he could not even stand on his feet," he said. Tendulkar had started to limp at the score 126 for 2 in the 16th over but continued to bat with his injury till it got bad to the extent he required a runner at 174 for 3 in the 28th over. Physio Andrew Leipus said, "It all started when he experienced a tweak in his left foot.
As he continued to bat, the injury aggravated," Leipus said as he sought to allay any fears on Tendulkar's fitness and term the little master fit to resume his campaign in subsequent matches of World Cup. Tendulkar said later he was not comfortable batting with a runner as only he can judge his shots and whether runs should be attempted or not. "I have never ever taken a runner in my life," said Tendulkar. "I like to score my own runs."Neither the coach nor the captain, or for that matter Leipus tried to talk Tendulkar out of his decision to bat on with his injury.
Indian coach John Wright was sympathetic to Tendulkar's decision to bat without a runner. "It was his decision but I feel he must have thought taking a runner would affect the rhythm and flow of his batting."The decision also reflected Tendulkar's determination to take the extra load and walk an extra mile if it could help his team against Pakistan. "That's the reason why Tendulkar chose to take first strike and shield young Virender Sehwag against Pakistan's legendary left-arm bowler Wasim Akram at the start of the innings.
His heroism to bat with an injury was again symbolic of his courage and resolve," said Roebuck. "Throughout this campaign there has been a look in his eye, the sort detected in Viv Richards before a final. Sachin means business. A mild man, he realises the time has come to leave his mark upon cricket's most prestigious tournament." PTI