I still vividly remember – The setting my Uncle’s place in Vizag. The 1998 Coca- Cola Cup.. India vs. Australia. The Aussies hit 284. Oh boy we aren’t gonna to chase that down neither are we gonna to qualify. India were a one man team back then though we had Azhar,Jadeja and Ganguly. If India were to qualify it had to be because of one man SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR.
I sit down to watch the chase with my cousin FISHER.There’s very little hope. And then the prophecy from my uncle. “It’s gonna to be SACHIN’S night today we will qualify” And it did come true. TENDULKAR batted like a man possessed. Neither of the AUSSIE bowlers had an answer to Sachin’s stroke play that night. It was a one man demolition job. India was through to the finals and we were so overjoyed. Take that Aussies it’s going a replay in the finals.
The Finals- 24th April 1998. It’s the Little Master’s birthday. This time we are supremely confident. So was the whole of India. The centre stage was his. The Aussies, mere puppets in his hands. The Aussies hit 272. 273 to win… Who cares what the target is the cup is ours. The run machine won’t disappoint us. It was actually hilarious to see bowler after bowler trying to gain the upper hand over Sachin. But that magical night he had all the answers.
It was surreal. The straight drive.. The lofted shot straight over the bowler’s head for six. Shane Warne scratching his head not knowing what had hit him. And having Ravi Shastri, Tony Greig and Gavaskar in the commentary box was an added attraction.
I relive those two knocks every time SACHIN plays.. You don’t get knocks like these very often. Maybe once in a blue moon. And whole team went around the SHARJAH STADIUM in Sachin’s car. It was like the perfect finale. Endings are always the best part. Those who criticize Sachin now please remember there was a time when he was the one man army standing between India and defeat.
By the way we did have our own little treat of chocolate cakes to celebrate the win!