Sachin Tendulkar was the highest scorer of the 1996 and 2003 World Cup and although not at his destructive best he returned as India’s highest scorer for a record third time in the 2011 edition as well - the difference this time was that his performances took the side to a memorable and historic victory! The Little Master had an aggregate of 482 runs in 9 matches at a strike rate of 91.98 including two hundreds and as many fifties in the tournament. He scored big runs at a high strike rate and made a huge impact with the bat in the competition.
Tendulkar showed glimpses of his class in India’s opener against Bangladesh at Dhaka with a 29-ball 28 before being run out. But the batting genius was not going to miss out in the next encounter against England. He scored a magnificent 120 off just 115 deliveries hammering 10 fours and 5 sixes helping India amass 338 in Bengaluru. Tendulkar put together a century partnership with Gautam Gambhir before adding another fifty stand with Yuvraj giving India the platform for a massive total.
He was at his destructive best against South Africa in Nagpur where he combined with Virender Sehwag and added 142 in under 18 overs for the opening wicket. Tendulkar was the aggressor in the partnership smashing 60 off 41 deliveries at a strike rate of 146.34. Sehwag contributed 73 off 66 deliveries at a rate of 110.61 - it was not often that any non-striker outscored the destructive Sehwag in any format! Tendulkar was in a special zone on the day giving glimpses of the period between 1996 and 1999 when he was at his devastating best.
Tendulkar had taken India to a position of great strength at 267 in under 40 overs when he was dismissed for a brilliant 111 off 101 deliveries. He then produced two series-defining performances in the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final to show his big-match play and temperament. He scored 53 off 68 deliveries providing the middle order the platform for the 261-run chase in Ahmedabad. Tendulkar countered the likes of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson giving the likes of Yuvraj Singh the base at the top of the order.
Although not his best or most attractive innings, Tendulkar chanced his luck and top-scored for India in the mega semi-final against Pakistan in Mohali. He recorded 85 off 115 deliveries and was the playmaker and anchor for the majority of India’s innings even as wickets fell from the other end. Tendulkar held the innings together and had scored 45% of India’s total runs when he was dismissed with the score at 187 in the 37th over.
To make the most of his chances and come out as the highest impact batsman in a high octane and pressure match against arch-rivals Pakistan in front of thousands inside the stadium and millions outside once again living up to the expectancy of a billion-plus people - this is why Tendulkar, even when not at his ruthless best, was still a genius and better than most others.
After top-scoring for the country in 1996 and 2003, Tendulkar was a third time lucky when on the 2nd of April, 2011, 10 years ago to this very day, India lifted the World Cup Trophy.
The God had made his intervention alright!