Legendary India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has played multiple extraordinary innings throughout the course of his immensely decorated career, however, there was one particular knock in 1999, that many still regard as his one of the best Test innings ever.
On this day, 19 years ago, the ‘Master Blaster’ slammed a stunning 136 against arch-rivals Pakistan at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, although in a losing cause. India were playing Pakistan in Tests after a gap of nine years and despite Sachin’s supernatural efforts, the hosts ended up losing the match by 12 runs.
Sachin was even awarded the man of the match for his sublime innings but he refused to turn up for the ceremony to pick it up.
“He got India close to the target, but fell for 136 with India needing 17 more runs. He got into the dressing room disappointed. When he got to know that India had lost he just didn’t budge from the dressing room. He was weeping buried under his towel. He was awarded the man-of-the-match award, but Tendulkar did not come to collect it. Raj Singh Dungarpur was on the podium, asking where the Little Master was, but Tendulkar was shattered. Even after the felicitation was over, he refused to move from his place in the dressing room. Eventually, he moved after I talked to him. He got very emotional that day," revealed then coach Anshuman Gaekwad later.
Batting first, Pakistan were bundled out for a modest 238, courtesy of a 6-wicket haul from spinner Anil Kumble. Moin Khan and Mohammad Yusuf slammed respective fifties to provide some respectability to the visitors’ score after Kumble (6/70) and Javagal Srinath (3/63) ripped through the line-up.
Half-centuries from Sourav Ganugly and Rahul Dravid ensured that India took a 16-run lead in the innings as they were able to score 254 all-out in their first essay. Spinner Saqlain Mushtaq was the star of the day for Pakistan as he scalped five.
In the second innings, Pakistan’s 18-year-old wonder kid live up to his name and slammed a majestic 141, helping the tourists set a target of 271 for India to chase. Pacer Venkatesh Prasad returned with a six-wicket haul for the hosts.
Chasing the daunting target in the fourth innings, India didn’t have the best of starts as they were reeling at 82/5 with Sadagopan Ramesh, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly dismissed. Sachin Tendulkar and Nayan Mongia joined forces in the middle and they started the rebuilding job for the India.
While Sachin was playing the innings of his life and taking the attack to the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mustaq, he was also dealing with one problem at the same time - back injury. At the score of 83, Sachin was down on the ground and required attention from the physio even.
However, kept going and notched up a brilliant century. But he was running out of partners on the other end as Mongia was dismissed after scoring a half-century. Sachin kept fighting for India and helped the hosts reach within touching distance of the winning score.
But Saqlain was also having the match of his life as he scalped the prized wicket of Sachin for 136. With Sachin’s dismissal, India lost the drive and momentum and eventually fell short by 12 runs.