Waiting for something special to unfold can be as special as the actual event. Tension, anticipation, anxiety around it can both delight and devour and when the moment finally arrives, one tends to cherish it forever. Be it your first kiss, first ice-cream, a maiden visit to a foreign country, or for that matter Sachin Tendulkar’s maiden international hundred. Its 30 years to the day when the first brick in Sachin Tendulkar’s wall of 100 international centuries was laid; a day where Sachin signaled a warning to all the bowlers around the world of what was going to follow in the upcoming two and a half decades; it was also a day when the 17-year-old prodigy successfully took the baton from Sir Donald Bradman as the best batsman in the world.
August 14. Yep! AUGUST 14. The 14th day of the eighth month will always be remembered as the greatest ‘shifting of baton’ moment in cricket. After all, it was on this very day in 1948 that Sir Donald Bradman played his last Test innings, and exactly 42 years later, Sachin scored his maiden Test hundred.
But before we delve into that masterly match-saving knock at Old Trafford in Manchester, let us cast our mind back to Sachin’s debut tout of Pakistan in 1989. Sachin Tendulkar, courtesy his unreal penchant for scoring double and triple hundreds in domestic cricket had made quite a reputation for himself and so when he became the youngest Indian Test debutant, anticipation galore around whether he could break Mushtaq Mohammad’s record of being the youngest centurion in Test match cricket.
Sachin scored two brilliant half-centuries in the Test series and his knock of 57 in Sialkot where he was struck on his nose by a Waqar Younis bouncer was an epitome of not only skills and patience, it was also a testification of his grit, attitude and character and the relentless drive to withstand all the pain for his country. A bloodied Tendulkar stood firm and scored a match-saving 57. But a hundred still alluded the ‘Little Genius’. But, as Sachin recently alluded that knock in Sialkot laid the cornerstone for his heroics in Manchester.
August 14- Exit the Don, Enter Sachin Tendulkar
Two months later, Mushtaq Mohammad’s record once again came under severe threat when the Master Blaster smashed a brilliant 88 against New Zealand in Napier. Sachin was unbeaten on 80 overnight but such was the craze and anticipation around this ‘little genius’ that it made the entire country wake up in the wee hours of the morning to follow his progress. A couple of sumptuous shots later, his youthful exuberance once again got the better of him as he was caught at mid-off at 88.
India did not play another Test for the next six months and it meant that Mushtaq’s record [17 years and 82 days] would remain intact. But Tendulkar wasn’t too flustered about the record. All he wanted was to improve his game, tighten it up and not let the youthful exuberance get the better of him in the future. And, on 14th August 1990, the 17-year-old displayed that to the hilt.
Having been set 408 to win on the final day of the Old Trafford Test, India were once again up against it. They had lost their six top-order wickets for a mere 183 when Tendulkar and Manoj Prabhakar got together. Sachin Tendulkar had scored 68 in the first innings but unlike that knock, he was far more attacking in the second. The 17-year-old got a lucky reprieve at 10 when Eddie Hemmings dropped a simple caught and bowled chance but apart from that, Sachin displayed a masterly touch that day the highlight of the innings was unarguably his delightful backfoot punches.
What were you doing when you were 17?
On this day in 1990, a little 17 year old Indian boy scored his 1st test hundred, a brilliant 119* to save the match for India…the little master Sachin Tendulkar @sachin_rt
These backfoot shots are unbelievable, for anyone at any age pic.twitter.com/CQcyMhYTxO
— Rob Moody (@robelinda2) August 13, 2020
Sachin Tendulkar displayed remarkable composure and considering the fact that he was all of 17 years and 112 days old, to see the gumption, technical certitude, authoritative strokeplay and intelligence was a sight to behold. And it was fitting that he brought up his knock with a sumptuous backfoot punch off Angus Fraser towards mid-off and as Richie Benaud brilliantly described it ‘ it was an innings of temperament, skills and delightful strokeplay’. India went on to save the Test match and Sachin Tendulkar went on to impinge himself- once and for all- as the next big thing in world cricket.
The first brick was laid and we would see 99 more of those during the course of the next 24 years.