On April 9, 1995, Sachin Tendulkar would go on to become the youngest batsman to score 3000 ODI runs, and he did so in some style, notching up his fourth hundred in the format and playing a crucial knock in ensuring India an important win. 15 years later, we look at the vital knock from Tendulkar. Also Read - Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli, Sardar Singh to Abhinav Bindra: India's Sporting Community Pays Tribute to 'Rare Role Model' Balbir Singh Sr.
India were up against Sri Lanka in the fifth match of the Pepsi Asia Cup. Having lost to Pakistan by a huge 97-run margin, India’s run-rate had taken a massive hit, despite a comprehensive nine-wicket win against Bangladesh in the tournament opener. Pakistan and Sri Lanka were coming off emphatic wins themselves and with just two matches left, India were the third team jostling for a place in the final, India’s net run-rate was 4.85, behind Pakistan (5.22) and Sri Lanka (4.35) were third in the table. Also Read - Prithvi Shaw Calls Sachin Tendulkar His Mentor, Says Sir Speaks More About Mental Aspects Than Technical Ones
In a must-win encounter, Tendulkar’s attacking century sealed India’s passage to the final. India eventually went on to win the 1995 Asia Cup with another strong performance in the final but that is a tale reserved for another day. Five days before the final, Tendulkar’s swashbuckling hundred would make headlines as he guided his team to a comfortable nine-wicket win, gunning down Sri Lanka’s target of 203 inside 34 overs to boost India’s net run-rate. His first 50 runs had come off just 44 balls before he set himself to play a big innings. Also Read - Sachin Tendulkar Would Have Scored 1.30 Lakh Runs in Today's Era: Shoaib Akhtar
Batting first, Sri Lanka were 60/1 before slipping to 113/6 and eventually laboured their way to just over 200 with Venkatesh Prasad claiming 3/37 off his 10 and no one barring Hasan Tillakaratne being able to show much resistance. Tillakaratne’s 48 off 78 balls comprised just two boundaries as India’s bowlers made merry on a challenging surface, and had it not been for Sanath Jayasuriya’s 1 and Kumar Dharmasena’s 30 lower down, Sri Lanka would have struggled to put 175.
By the time India came out to bat, the pitch had eased out, and Tendulkar cashed on the opportunity. Batting superbly, Tendulkar drove his way to a scintillating 112 off 105 with 15 fours and one six. He and Manoj Prabhakar added 161 runs for the opening wicket, which settled the outcome of the match.
As for Tendulkar’s knock, the batsman looked in imperious touch. While becoming the youngest to go past 3000 runs in ODIs, Tendulkar also become the eighth batsman to do so. Tendulkar’s batting in the V was unbelievable. With Jayasuriya employed to arrest the flow of runs, Tendulkar danced down the wicket and carted the left-arm spinner for a straight six and swept him past short fine-leg for another boundary. Tendulkar then savaged Vaas, taking him for 18 in an over. Dabbing the ball towards point, Tendulkar hoisted his fourth hundred in One Day International (ODI) hundred as Ranatunga joined the crowd in appreciating the knock. India had won with more than 100 balls remaining.
Brief scores: India 206/2 in 33.2 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 112*, Manoj Prabhajar 60) beat Sri Lanka 202/9 in 50 overs (Hasan Tillakaratne 48, Sanath Jayasuriya 31; Venkatesh Prasad 3/37) by eight wickets