Few cricket lovers would fail to go starry-eyed when they recall the 24th of February, 2010. The day when Sachin Tendulkar, who Wisden 100 rank as the best ODI batsman of all time, breached the previously untouched 200 run barrier in a limited overs international cricket match - a fitting addition to his well-rounded career, which is still not quite complete.
When the teenaged Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was putting in hours on the cricketing field, his tireless coach, Ramakant Achrekar, promised him a 1-rupee reward if he could keep his wicket. The ceaseless perseverance paid off in 1988 which saw him involved in the longest partnership in any form of cricket (till 2006), 664 not out with his future India teammate Vinod Kambli.
History will show that the fortunes of the Indian team at the World Cup have mirrored the performance of the Little Master right from his debut at the 1992 World Cup. The lone Indian to win 'Man of the Match' awards then, he could not take his team to the knockout stage of the tournament. The 1996 tournament saw him lead the charts with 523 runs. India reached the semi-final stage only to forfeit an already lost cause to eventual champions Sri Lanka.
1999 marked a forgettable year for Indian cricket's greatest achiever. Coming back after his father's sudden demise during the Cup, he scored a resilient 140 off 101 balls against Kenya. Sadly, that was the sole spark from him in the tournament, which saw India crash out in the Super Six stage. He made up for this in 2003, notching up an incredible 673 runs in 11 matches. The eventual 'Man of the Tournament' got his team into the final but failed to come good against eventual winners Australia. Four years later in 2007, his form was in shambles and, lo and behold, India crashed out in the first round. So going by this pattern and with Tendulkar in arguably his most imperious form ever, 2011 should finally allow the best batsman never to have won a Cup, wipe that particular blemish off his resume.
He bowls medium pace, leg spin and off spin on demand, but India will ultimately look to his bat to bring home the Cup of Joy and fittingly, at long last, round off a glorious cricketing career.
Images Copyright : Getty Images