“Sachin Tendulkar is flying back” As soon as this headline flashed on the Times of India digital board in New Delhi, traffic came to an absolute standstill. And, why wouldn’t it? People were left in awe and their respect for the Master Blaster grew manifolds at that very instant.
After all, here was a 26-year-old man, who despite having lost one of the most prized possessions of his life- his father- was willing to put his emotions aside and re-join his team for the World Cup in England.
“Yeah I am back because of my family and all the countrymen. It was my mother who told me to go back & play for the country” An emotional Sachin Tendulakr said prior to the game
Yes! Sachin was back! And, how could he not be? His team had just lost to Zimbabwe in comical fashion and all the 1.2 billion Indians longed was for their ‘messiah’ to come back. And, here he was, straight from his father’s funeral, ready to channelize his overflowing emotions and once again spearhead his team’s fledgling campaign in the World Cup.
Emotions- Infinite#OnThisDay in 1999, an emotional @sachin_rt spellbound us again courtesy his brutal 140 off 101 balls vs Kenya, days after losing his father. pic.twitter.com/iFdGWJQn24
— Yash Mittal ?? (@im_yash2307) May 22, 2020
And, by god! Didn’t he do it with disdain?
India vs Kenya. 1999 World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar 140. Bristol
In many ways, Sachin’s 140 against Kenya at Bristol, on this day in 1999, will go down as one of his very best knocks in his 24-year-old career. The innings had everything one can hope for as a Sachin fan.
It had his usual artistry, it had his flamboyance, it had his authoritarianism, it had his cheekiness and of-course it had his character and resilience written all over it.
Tendulkar played every shot in the book or otherwise that day in Bristol. On-drive? Check. Square-cuts? Check? Cover-drives? Check. Lofted on-drive? Check. Cheeky dabs and paddles? Check? Lofted hits over mid-wicket? Check. Check. Check.
Sachin reached his first 50 off 54 balls. What followed next was absolute carnage. The Master Blaster proceeded to smoke the next 90 runs in just 47 deliveries to finish at 140 off 101 balls. One of the most poignant moments from that game was when Tendulkar reached his 22nd century and looked up at the heavens, as if saying- ‘This one is for you, Dad’.
Tendulkar went on to score hell a lot of hundreds in the next 14 years of his career and every time he used to reach the three-figures, he would give his tribute to his late great father by looking up at the heavens. And, every time he did that, memories of 22nd May 1999 would always galore amidst the cricketing folklore.