To compile a list of Sachin Tendulkar's top ten hundreds in both formats – out of 99 let's not forget – is almost Mission Impossible. Partab Ramchand however makes a brave attempt.
114 vs Australia, Perth, 1992
It must have been nerve racking even for a prodigiously gifted teenager like Sachin Tendulkar to bat on a fiery WACA wicket at Perth. For one thing, India had been outclassed in the series having lost three of the four previous Tests. Secondly, the Aussies had packed their side with pacemen and on duty during the final Test were Merv Hughes, Mike Whitney, Paul Reiffel and Craig McDermott.
Some indication of what lay in store for the Indians came about when Javagal Srinath, Manoj Prabhakar and Kapil Dev took nine of the ten wickets as Australia were all out for 346. When the Indians came in to bat, super fast deliveries whizzed past their noses and their heads even as they were struck repeatedly on the body.
Super quick reflexes were required to negotiate the pace quartet on a fast and bouncy track and the Indians did not seem to have anyone courageous enough to counter the fiery bowling or the alien conditions. But there was one batsman, not yet 19, who was prepared to take the fight into the enemy camp. The curly haired Tendulkar came in at 69 for two and saw his teammates depart, mostly for single digits.
He however stood firm until, joined by Kiran More for the ninth wicket, he launched into a furious counter attack. From 159 for eight, the two took the score to 240 when Tendulkar was out. But in the meantime he had reached a priceless 114. His innings provided the abiding memory of the match even if India lost by 300 runs.
Even today his knock is held in awe and a few years ago Ian Chappell, in a veiled tribute to the Perth hundred, observed that "to expect Tendulkar to bat the same fearless way as he did in Perth all those years ago is to undertake an exercise in futility."