Is it really 21 years ago that a curly haired 17-year-old took the cricketing world by storm by hitting his maiden Test hundred? In our mind's eye it is as clear as though the event took place yesterday.
These days at 38, Sachin Tendulkar enjoys a status second to none but every now and then, I am sure even he will go down memory lane to that day at Old Trafford when he rescued the Indian team with a mature hundred that could only have been notched up by a precociously talented teenager.
Sachin the Centurion
When Tendulkar burst upon the scene in Pakistan in November 1989, it was obvious that he was a specially gifted cricketer. He did not set the cricketing world alight by getting a century on Test debut but two gritty half centuries against the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir marked him out as an exciting long term prospect.
After a tenacious 88 in New Zealand against Richard Hadlee and Danny Morrison a couple of months later, one knew that a century was round the corner.
Not unexpectedly the inevitable hundred was notched up in the second Test against England at Old Trafford in August 1990 - in his ninth match. But it was no ordinary hundred. Perhaps any century by a 17-year-old could not be ordinary but the circumstances under which it was compiled really made it special.
India having lost the first Test were set to get 408 for victory. They had lost four wickets for 109 runs when Tendulkar entered. Within minutes he had lost his captain Azharuddin and when Kapil Dev fell for 26, the score was 183 for six. When Manoj Prabhakar joined Tendulkar at this stage, there were still 2-1/2 hours play remaining.
Tendulkar now took over the responsibility of the innings which for one so young was amazing. He first reached his second half century of the match and then with a studious display that blended aggression with caution, he proceeded serenely towards his hundred.
No bowler looked like dismissing him and with Prabhakar supporting him in exemplary fashion, the seventh wicket pair steered India to an honourable draw with India finishing at 343 for six. Prabhakar remained unbeaten on 67 in sharing an unbroken partnership of 160 runs but everyone had eyes only for Tendulkar.
Wisden noted that "of the six individual hundreds scored in this fascinating contest none was more outstanding than Tendulkar's which rescued India on the final afternoon. At 17 years and 112 days he was only 30 days older than Mushtaq Mohammed was when against India at New Delhi in 1960-61 he became the youngest player to score a Test hundred."
The erudite English press, quick to realize that they had witnessed an exceptional talent, wrote about him in superlative terms with one headline SACHINCREDIBLE standing the test of time.
Tendulkar remained undefeated on 119, having batted for 224 minutes and hitting 17 fours. Harsha Bhogle wrote that Tendulkar would get many more hundreds. One need not have been a prophet to share this view. It was as inevitable as night following day.
What we certainly could not have known was the exalted status he would enjoy and the record number of centuries he would peel off. It is only a matter of time that the 100th hundred will be notched up - when it will be time again to think of when and where it all began.