Sachin Tendulkar…the name synonymous with cricket at that time was the driving force of the Indian ODI team in the 2003 World Cup. He was the only batsman to score more than 10,000 runs in ODIs then and there were lots of expectations from him to score loads of runs on the bouncy pitches of South Africa and slow pitches of Zimbabwe.
And he did it! He scored 673 runs in 11 matches in that World Cup at an average of 61.18 with 1 hundred and 6 fifties at a strike rate of 89.25. He scored his second 150+ score of his ODI career against Namibia, a 152 off 151 balls, which also happened to be his best score in World Cups.
In this article, we are going to discuss his 3 memorable knocks in that World Cup.
1. 152 runs off 151 balls against Namibia
This was the 25th match of that World Cup and the 4th for India. India was playing Namibia for the first time and Namibia’s captain Deon Kotze won the toss and put India to bat on a pitch which was not true to a typical South African pitch; a pitch which had low bounce and ground which had a slow outfield.
Nonetheless, this match was played at the City Oval, Pietermaritzburg, which hosted a few matches of that World Cup, after which this ground was never used for hosting international matches.
Sachin unleashed his favourite shot, straight drive, many times and with the ball coming slow and low, he also played some picturesque cover drives.Embed from Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar hits a shot, India vs Namibia, 2003 World Cup.
He reached his 34th ODI hundred in the 37th over of the innings. This was his 4th hundred in World Cups. After that, he smashed 52 runs off just 37 deliveries with 7 fours before getting out bowled by Rudi van Vuuren on 152 runs off 151 balls. He hit 18 fours and did not hit a single six in that innings, which was the highest ODI score at that time to not have a six until Australia cricketer David Warner hit 173 runs against South Africa in 2016 without any six.
He stitched a partnership of 46 runs with Virender Sehwag for the 1st wicket and then went on to make a record partnership of 244 runs for the 2nd wicket with the then captain Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly went on to make 112* and India won the match comfortably by 181 runs.
2. 98 runs off 75 balls against Pakistan
This was arguably the best innings of Sachin in that World Cup. Pakistan set India a target of 274 runs to win the match. Being an India-Pakistan World Cup clash, it was a house-full stadium, and most of those fans were either from India or Pakistan. The match took place in a rather famous venue, SuperSport Park in Centurion, which had a bouncy pitch aiding express fast bowlers.
Considering that the experienced Wasim Akram was going to bowl the 1st over, Sachin decided to take the strike for the 1st ball instead of Virender Sehwag, who generally took the strike.
Sachin started with a crisp square drive on the 3rd ball of the innings for a four. In the second over, he hit an upper-cut six off a Shoaib Akhtar delivery. Today, that shot by him is considered to be one of the best shots ever played by him as well as that shot defined the changing perspective of the Indian cricket team: To be fearless and win!Embed from Getty Images
Sachin en-route to 98 runs against Pakistan, 2003 World Cup.
In the 7th over, a fearless Tendulkar gave a chance to Abdul Razzaq, the fielder. Razzaq dropped the catch and then Sachin went on to make the most of that, but ultimately he outside-edged a Shoaib Akhtar delivery while on 98, and the catch was taken by Pakistan’s best fielder, Younis Khan. A 150-kmph delivery dismissed Sachin but not his plans of winning the match for India! Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh stitched an unbroken partnership of 99 runs off 108 deliveries to beat Pakistan by 6 wickets and advance to the Super Six.
3. 83 runs off 101 balls against Kenya
This match is best remembered for Kenya, which became the only Associate member to play a knockout match in an ICC event, and rightly holds the record since as of 2020. Yes, India was facing Kenya in the semi-final of the 2003 World Cup in Durban, and India won the toss and chose to bat first as they did not want to take risk of batting second in a semi-final.
Both Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar started slowly, adding 74 runs off 110 balls for the first wicket until Sehwag edged the ball and was caught out on 33 runs. Tendulkar then joined hands with Ganguly and together stitched a quickfire 103-run partnership off 116 balls, before holing out to deep midwicket for an important 83 off 101 deliveries which included 5 fours and a six. Ganguly scored another important hundred, a 111* to propel India to a safe 270 and India comfortably won the match by 91 runs and advanced to the finals to face their arch-nemesis, Australia.Embed from Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar scored 83 runs against Kenya, Durban, 2003 World Cup.
Sachin Tendulkar ended the World Cup with a record 673 runs to his tally, a record which remains unbroken even 4 World Cups later. While India lost the World Cup in the finals, Sachin’s performance in this World Cup is something that remains indelible in the minds of Indian cricket fans.
Featured Image: Sachin Tendulkar | Getty Images
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