Sachin VS Warne was a fight between two evenly poised competitors going neck to neck in every contest they played.Embed from Getty Images
Sachin was climbing up the ladder of batting. He was amassing runs against every bowling attack in the world and was also the top scorer in the 1996 World Cup. On his other side, stood his nemesis, Shane Warne, who proved that leggies were no longer run leaking machines and could be match-winners. Warne was already the man behind the “Ball of the Century” in 1993 in England and he never looked back since then.
Let us go back to the 1st Test match between India and Australia at Chennai in 1998 where both of them were at their prime.
Warne could grab a wicket at any point in time. The captain needs wickets? Then Warne was the man to go to. He had a different approach while bowling against the right-handers, to bowl to the batsman round their legs. He exploited the footmarks left by the fast bowlers to make a fool of the right-handed batsman. Warne generated a large amount of sidespin from those footmarks and that’s what made him one of the best spinners to ever grace the game.
In that case, Sachin had to prepare for Warnie’s bowling round his legs. For that, he consulted Ravi Shastri, who scored a double century in Warne’s first Test. Shastri’s advice was very practical and useful. He said to Sachin that he was able to get to the footmarks because of his height and longer reach which helped him to have a defensive game while Sachin had to attack Warne bowling round his legs.
Sachin practiced in the MRF nets with the former Indian spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan bowling round the wicket. Sachin intentionally created a rough pitch so that he could find a way against Warne’s bowling in those footmarks.
The First Blood
It was the perfect match up between these two titans of the game. This time Warne didn’t do his way of bowling round the wicket and rather tried the conventional way to Sachin. Sachin had to tackle Warne bowling over the wicket.
The first ball was an over flighted delivery which was smashed for a four by Sachin. The next two balls were more flatter ones that went straight to the fielders. The fourth one was a jaffa that spun from the off stump to just wide of the outside off stump. The fifth one was a similar delivery to the first one which forced Sachin to drive it. Well, to Sachin’s dismay, he mistimed it and it went straight to Mark Taylor standing at the slips.
Warne had dismissed Tendulkar for a mere 4 runs. Sachin was infuriated with himself after getting out to Warne.
He was so angry with himself that he locked himself in the physio’s room for that whole day. His eyes were red and he became very emotional, at the same time desperate to get runs off Warne. Otherwise, the press would write that Sachin was contained by Warne. Shane Warne went onto take 4 wickets in that innings.
In the second innings, Sachin came out to bat when India was on 115/2 after Sidhu and Dravid had tormented the Aussie bowlers. Well, Warne once again went onto bowl over the stumps but this time Sachin wasn’t impatient to drive every ball flighted. Sachin started to attack Warnie bowling over the wickets. He smashed him for multiple boundaries and had a sweet revenge. Sachin destroyed Warne’s rhythm who was humiliated bowling over the stumps. Now Warne was forced to bowl round the stumps, which Sachin expected him to do so before the series.Embed from Getty Images
Warne did go for the kill but Sachin dominated him that day. When Wane dragged the ball into the footmarks, Tendulkar went down the ground to hit the ball into the stands and when it was in the length where it was out of reach, Sachin just blocked it with his legs. Warne, for the first time of his life, looked helpless against a batsman. There was no point of delivering the balls into the footmarks, Sachin looked unstoppable on that day. Not only did he hit Warne but he upset his rhythm as well. Despite a controversial LBW decision, Sachin really did own Warne in that innings. He went onto score a fantastic hundred and ended up with a phenomenal 155* in 191 balls with a strike rate of 81 which was a very high strike rate at that time for an ODI batsman, forget about Tests.
Warne’s figures meanwhile read 30-7-122-1 with a high economy of 4.06. India went onto win the match comfortably by a margin of 179 runs. Sachin was well and truly the ‘Man of the Match’.
One of the most famous battles between Warne and Sachin was when Sachin went onto score a massive 143 in an innings which is famously known as the ‘Desert Storm’ which saw an epic thrashing of Warne and his fellow Aussie bowlers. Even under a pressure situation, Sachin was playing fabulously and the ball was going where Sachin wanted it to go. He followed it up with another hundred in the final to win India the title.
To keep the argument double-edged, Warne also has some share of getting Sachin out a few times. He got Sachin out twice in the 1999/00 series in Australia. It included a deceptive LBW which made Sachin look completely bamboozled.
However, Sachin won in most of the duels. In the 29 encounters between them, Warne has scalped Sachin’s wicket only four times (three in Tests and 1 in ODIs)!!
When Warne was asked about the toughest batsmen he faced, he replied:
Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are the two best batsmen of my era. I think those two guys have been the toughest at international level.
When one of the best batsman of the game met one of the best spinners, it was bound to be a mouth-watering clash and this rivalry between Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar will forever be etched in our memories as one of the greatest rivalries the game has ever seen.Embed from Getty Images
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