In 1994, Sachin Tendulkar opened for the first time for India, and the decision turned out to be a turning point in his career. He was asked to open by Mohammad Azharuddin as regular opener Navjot Singh Sidhu suffered a stiff neck. But before getting a chance to open, Tendulkar had to make Azharuddin and manager Ajit Wadekar believe in his potential.
In an episode on his 100MB app, Sachin Tendulkar, spoke in depth about the discussion he had with Azhar and Wadekar in the dressing room which earned him the spot as an opener.
Sachin Tendulkar asked for ‘one chance’
It was in Auckland. Azharuddin and Wadekar were in the dressing room and they had to find a new opener as Sidhu had a niggle. Tendulkar showed confidence in himself and asked them to give him a chance. He also said he can take an attack from the onset on all the bowlers.
“When I left the hotel in the morning, I didn’t know am going to open the batting. We reached the ground and Azhar and Wadekar Sir were there in the dressing room. They said Sidhu is unfit because he has sprained his neck. So, who do we open with and I said give me one chance. I am so confident I can go out and attack all those bowlers,” Tendulkar said.
How Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajit Wadekar reacted
Azhar and Wadekar knew about Tendulkar’s potential but they were not quite sure. In those days, the players would start to take the charge on the opposition after 15 overs. Only once had, Mark Greatbatch played an attacking role as an opener, but then Tendulkar re-wrote history and cemented his place.
“The first reaction was why do I want to open? But I was confident I could do that. And it was not like I would slog upfront and come back, I would continue batting after that and play my normal game which is attacking.
“Till then, only once in 1992 World Cup, Mark Greatbatch had done that because the normal trend was to play off the first 15 overs as the ball was new. You would see the shine off and then slowly look to accelerate and press the pedal as hard as you can in the last 7 to 8 overs. So, I thought if I could go and press the pedal hard in the first 15 overs, it would put a lot of pressure on the opposition and I said if I fail I will never come back to you, but give me one chance. And it clicked,” Sachin added.
Tendulkar blazed 82 off 49 balls. In 344 matches as an opener, he made 15310 runs at 48.29 (and 45 of his 49 ODI hundreds) as compared to 3116 at 33 from 119 matches in which he batted lower down, according to espncricinfo.